6 Excuse-Busting Tips for Swimmers

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

“I can’t do it because I’m not talented enough.”

“Their swimsuit is better so of course they beat me.”

“I wasn’t feeling up to it today, that’s why they beat me.”

“I’ll start training harder when I get my new goggles.”

In one form or another, a variation of these excuses – and many more – have been uttered on your local pool deck. Certainly you’ve heard a teammate or competitor use an excuse to tone down a poor performance, and I’d be willing to bet that at one point you also have used a less than concrete explanation to pass off a bad swim, or to procrastinate on starting something.

I know I certainly have at more than one point or another.

When swimmers do get called out for making excuses, the reaction runs along the lines of—

“They just don’t have enough willpower.”

“They didn’t want it bad enough.”

“They are lazy.”

While an easy judgement to lob, I think that there is more to excuse-making than willpower or laziness. Here are six ways to combat and overcome the excuses that you make for yourself and your swimming —

Get to the Root of Why You Make Them

We tend to make excuses based out of fear. Fear of looking inferior, of being weak, of being considered a slower swimmer than we know ourselves to be. Back in my racing days there was one particular swimmer, whom I will never forget and not name, who had his excuse ready before he even touched the wall. I’d be struggling to catch my breath, looking up at the scoreboard, and he’d be floating over to the side of my lane, excuse loaded and ready to go. Often times we make excuses without realizing the reason we do it. Get to the root of why, and suddenly that excuse will lose its validity with the person who matters most – you.

Accept the Power

Accepting responsibility for your actions – or lack of – and your performances does not have to be a burden. Accepting that you control how you perform in the pool – not your competition, not the water temperature, not your bathing suit – is actually quite freeing. Because this allows you complete and utter autonomy over your swimming. You are not subject to the whims of outside factors as everything that affects your performance is within you.

Realize How They Make You Feel

Excuses are a faulty apparatus. While outwardly they serve a purpose – mask fear and perceived inferiority, they don’t actually make you feel any better, do they? In your heart of hearts, you know they are rubbish. Excuses tend to leave you with an overwhelming sense of feeling unfulfilled.

Un-Point the Finger

Finding fault with others and outside influences doesn’t help you grow, it doesn’t help you become a better swimmer, and it doesn’t give you any control over yourself.

See Yourself Clearly

We are not nearly as subjective as we like to think we are. We tend to over-exaggerate our weaknesses, and downplay our strengths. Try to assess your performance as subjectively as you can. I realize this can be challenging, so get feedback from your coach and/or teammates as well.

Bounce Back Harder

The ultimate 1-2 punch for excuse-making comes in the form of –

1. Honestly acknowledging that you didn’t perform as well as you could have and not sugar-coating or downplaying your responsibility in your lack of performance.

2. Create accountability by asking, “How can I learn from this to improve myself?” Knowing that you didn’t perform as well as you could or should have, and then dictating the steps for insuring it won’t happen again help you make a negative a positive.

Do you have any tips for getting out of the excuse-making loop? List them in the comments below!

About YourSwimBook

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7 years ago

Good article, but I think in the “See Yourself Clearly” section, it is meant to be more Objective, not Subjective. As subjectivity is non-measurable, objectivity is. Over-exaggerating and downplaying or subjective acts. Looking at our selves honestly and basing this on factual data is being objective … which is what we need more of!

9 years ago

Create attainable goals and achieve them, this creates confidence.

9 years ago

I like to tkink that by making excuses i will never get anywhere, i set myself a great goal (reaching the nationals) and every time i am about to give an excuse i think about my goal. This also helps like a motivation while swimming, you rember your goal and you start giving your 100%

9 years ago

I once had a swimmer who accused me of playing favorites – that’s why two boys consistently beat him. I challenged him to keep up with them at practice. He did it once, went home from morning Saturday practice and told his Mom, “Those guys work really hard”, and promptly fell asleep. He came in on Monday and told me he understood why they always beat him.

He now plays water polo.

9 years ago

I like to rethink my negative thoughts, change them to positives:
“I can’t race her, she is so tall!”
Rethink: I’m going to outrace her because my start, walls, and underwaters are amazing!”

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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