4 Parent Tips About Hard Work Vs. Talent

by SwimSwam 2

June 26th, 2018 Lifestyle, Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

We all have seen the naturally gifted kids at the pool. But what if our child is not as talented? Maybe they have some talent but not as much as say Katie Ledecky or Caeleb Dressel. Will hard work with some talent turn into success for them?

We are surrounded with talent in our LSC, Southern California Swimming. At meets, we’ve watched many great swimmers including Olympians Vlad Morozov, Abbey Weitzeil, Cody Miller and NCAA champ and American record holder Ella Eastin. Those swimmers are blessed with talent–plus they work hard, too.


Here are four thoughts about hard work versus talent:

Talent is a gift.

A swimmer with natural talent does have an advantage over less talented kids. But at some point, a swimmer may find that talent on its own doesn’t cut it. Many talented kids haven’t had to struggle or face failures. They may not have experienced the process of taking a loss and turning it into fuel for the next race. If everything has come easy, they may never have learned to work hard.



Hard work pays off.

How often have you seen an okay swimmer have a major breakthrough during their age group years? It can happen to anyone who is showing up daily to do the work. They may catch up to the kids who had more talent at an earlier age, because those gifted swimmers didn’t have the desire to put in as much effort. I love stories of the underdog who through grit and hard work achieves their dreams.



Nothing can beat talent plus hard work.

The best scenario is a combination of talent and desire. Although having both talent and a hard work ethic is rare, these are the swimmers we see on top of the podiums throughout their high school, college and Olympic careers.



The missing ingredient is passion.

If your child is truly passionate about swimming, they’ll want to work hard to pursue their goals and dreams. Even some of the most gifted swimmers may not love the sport. They may have other interests that they care more about. We can’t instill passion in our child, but we can encourage and support it when we see it.


What are your thoughts about talent versus hard work in the swimming pool?


Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/

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Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

The ability to work hard, consistently, is a talent. Call it “mental toughness” or whatever, but it’s just as much a “talent” and a “gift” as feel for the water or number of fast twitch muscle fibers. I really think we miss the mark when we make a distinction between “talent” and “hard work.”

3 years ago

When the combination of “talent” and “drive” and “intrinsic motivation” “capacity for work” comes together, and most importantly, STAY TOGETHER year in and year out, we get the top level swimmers. We all know about Phelps’ and Ledecky’s legendary drive, but that all had to come together with all the other factors. We really have to appreciate this combo in older swimmers.

All of us competed against extremely talented kids, the ones who just had that indescribable “feel” for the water, the effortless-looking swims as they all sped past us. In my own swimming life, beginning at my own summer league swim team, there were two kids in my age group who just killed it all the time as… Read more »