The Fear of Swimming Failure

by SwimSwam 1

April 13th, 2015 News

Age Group Swim Opinion is courtesy of Gavin Cooley.

What’s holding you back?

Most people would say time, or money, but not me. I can tell you exactly why I’m not my LSC’s champion in the 100 fly, why I didn’t get my Speedo Sectional cuts. It’s not that I didn’t work hard enough. I had a good diet, and I got a decent amount of sleep. So why wasn’t I faster? After the hours of training, the thousands upon thousands of strokes, the weeks of aching muscles, I still wasn’t good enough.

Why? I was afraid to fail. There were so many people I didn’t want to disappoint, my parents, my coaches, my friends. Ultimately, I disappointed the only person it really mattered to… Myself.

I was so worried about not failing, not falling short of the expectations, so I swam safe. Sure, I went fast, and I dropped time, but I never really took a risk, because by taking a risk comes the possibility of failure, and if I fail, I am failing all those people who are counting on me. A mere week after my championship meet, I had an epiphany.

My parents will always love me, my coaches will always be proud of me, and my friends  will still be my friends, no matter how I swim. When I step up on the blocks, I’m not doing for them. I’m not doing it for a time, a place, or a medal. I’m doing it for myself. In the end, I’m the only one who can control what I do.

The human body is capable of more than any of us could ever imagine. We are not  contained by our physical abilities, but rather our mental limitations.

You will know failure in your life if you truly want to be successful, or you will ask yourself What If? What if you had held your breath on that last 25? What if you had focused on underwater kicking in practice, so you could do 15 meters off every wall in your race? Sure, you could’ve lost your stroke tempo, your kick could’ve died, you could have even been disqualified. But, what if none of that happens? What if, through all the pain and tears and sweat of your training, your body was strong enough? What if…

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5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Gavin. Coaches say this kind of thing all the time, but it means much more coming from a young swimmer realizing it in your own way. I’ve already shared this with the swimmers that I coach.