The Silver Lining of Missing Goals

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Out of all the life lessons our children learn from swimming, one of the greatest is picking themselves up and trying again after not making a goal. How often do kids get personal bests? When they are growing and newer to swimming it happens a lot. In the teen years, especially for girls, best times happen less and less, and most likely only at targeted, taper meets.

What keeps our kids going to the pool day in and day out without seeing success on the clock? Often it’s friendships, competitive spirit, desire to reach goals, and a love of their sport.

Here are a few thoughts about what our kids learn in the pool when they don’t get a best time:

Goal setting.
When our kids are shooting for a specific time, it means they have a goal. Along the way, the goals may get harder to achieve. They learn through the process to set small daily goals and seasonal goals to reach their lifetime dreams. If they skip the small goals, it’s hard to stick with swimming to reach the big ones.

They gain humility through trial and error and welcome corrections from coaches to improve. Talent only gets swimmers so far. Quickly our kids learn that they are not infallible, but hard work and taking care of themselves are necessary parts of succeeding. Someday, they may realize that mom and dad helped them along their journey by driving them to practice and meets and being their biggest cheerleaders.

Try, try, again.
Each time they swim, whether it’s in practice or a race, our kids get a chance to try again. By not giving up, our kids learn to persevere. Think about when our kids are in a plateau. It’s frustrating and they might want to skip practice or meets, because they aren’t getting the immediate reward of faster times. But when they finally do break through that plateau and drop time, they will understand that perseverance pays off.

Swimming gives our kids a chance to experience and develop resilience. Think about how they come back after an illness or injury. They learn it’s not easy, but their character develops to become more resilient through the process. Life, like the stock market, doesn’t go straight up but is filled with ups and downs. Being resilient means our kids can bounce back after a disappointment or misfortune.

What are the greatest benefits your kids have gained from swimming?

Elizabeth 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.

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