7 Quotes for the Struggling Swimmer

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.

Having a hard time staying on track with your goals? Feeling like you are starting to lose direction, focus or even meaning in regards to your swimming?

Here are 7 inspirational swimming quotes to help you get back on the right track:

1. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Things will never go 100% the way you want them. There is no shame in trying and making a mistake, or coming up short. The important thing at the end of the day is that you put forth your best effort.

Not trying might be safe – without lofty expectations there is no disappointment – but that road leads nowhere. Elite swimmers don’t bounce from success to success on their way to the top. The summit is made up of a series of bumps, mistakes and failures. You don’t need to like them, but recognize them for what they are – stepping stones on your journey.

2.”The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.” – Thomas Edison

No matter how much we are marketed to otherwise, there is no substitute for hard work. There is no alternative to putting in the work on a consistent basis, as much as wishful thinking likes to whisper otherwise.

Of course, this isn’t a prescription to swim vast volumes of inefficient mileage. Be intelligent and tactical with your efforts, but make no mistake, behind every “overnight success” are years and years of grinding it out.

Be one of the few who are unwilling to shy away from hard work.

3. “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln.

When feeling frustrated with a lack of progress, an injury, or just a streak of poor workouts, we tend to start thinking in terms that aren’t overly optimistic. Whether it is engaging in excuse-making, playing the blame game, or simply deciding a negative outlook is the ticket out of your funk, just remember that negative thoughts spawn negative feelings.

Cut this off at the root by getting control of the thoughts bouncing around that melon of yours. Deciding that you will take control over your thoughts (and by extension, the way you are feeling) doesn’t mean that you will never feel angry or sad again, but that optimism will increase your creativity and willingness to find a path out of your unawesome streak.

4. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden.

When things aren’t going the way we hope it is easy to lean on our vast library of excuses as a crutch:

It’s too hard. I don’t feel like it. My stroke feels off. I didn’t sleep enough… and so on.

In our minds they seem reasonable and completely adequate. While these excuses may make you feel temporarily satisfied in the moment, over the long term they are costing you. (Additionally, while you may outwardly declare the validity of these excuses, in your heart you always recognize the shaky ground they stand on.)

Limit the power that excuse-making holds over you by writing them out the next time they rear their heads. Often just bringing them out into the open and shining light on them is enough to reveal the false premise behind them.

5. “You can, you should, and when you’re brave enough to start, you will.” – Stephen King

Setting goals is deliciously fun. For a few moments we get to think about the greatness we will achieve with our swimming. We’re champions, gold medalists, world record holders; at least for a precious few moments in our minds.

But then what happens? You come back to reality. And see how much of a gulf is between where you stand now and that huge, towering goal. Getting lost in the enormity of this goal is natural, but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from making the first step.

Zoom out from your big goal and zero in on the first couple steps in front of you. Avoid over-complicating things by getting mentally wrapped up in the enormity of your goals; you’ll never start anything this way.

6. “He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” – Aristotle

With great goals comes a matching set of fears and anxieties:

What happens if I come up short? What if I am not good enough? What if I don’t show up on race day?

Dampen these amplified worries by thinking back to the last time you performed below expectations. You know, that race where you had massive expectations and things went completely sideways on you? Yeah, that race.

Did you bounce back afterwards? Yes. Sure, you took a licking, but you persevered. Kept training, and kept moving forwards. You were okay then, and you will be okay again no matter what happens in the pool. Understanding this, and learning to trust your resilience of tomorrow, frees you up to swim fearlessly today.

7. “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery

Our swimming, and our lives, are a continuing series of beginnings and endings. Everything comes to an end at some point. A practice, a meet, a season. For better and for worse.

With each closing should come a moment of reflection, of learning, and then a new beginning. The next time you catch yourself having a hard time in the pool, where everything and everyone seems to be stacked up against you, remember that a fresh start awaits you tomorrow.

About YourSwimBook

YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.

Join the YourSwimBook weekly newsletter group and get motivational tips and more straight to your inbox. Sign up for free here.

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Andrea Mattison
9 years ago

As much as I loved all the quotes, my favorite swimming quote is, “Just keep Swimming, just keep swimming,” by Dori (Finding Nemo).

Clarke Goodman
9 years ago

A John Wooden quote that I frequently use in education as applies to most of life’s endeavors.

“Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement, one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

9 years ago

The one that I used most was one I got out of a Diana Nyad autobiography called “Other Shores” that would have most likely been written in the early 80s and was one of the few books about swimming that our school library had: “A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

9 years ago

All these fabulous intelligent quotes could also be applied in any other domain . They are great to be remembered often , revieuwed according to where we are in life . Excellent article for anyone who needs it .

Gary Kinkead
9 years ago

My favorite quote is from W. Clement Stone, the founder and former President of Combined Insurance Company:

“There is little difference between people, but that difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

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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