Winning vs Succeeding

Courtesy: Rudo Loock

This week is all about the Tokyo Olympic Games. Some athletes will have a great success story to tell, while others will be disappointed by their performances. Unfortunately, the ups and downs are part of what we do.

Winning and succeeding often go hand-in-hand. However, many athletes make the mistake of believing that they need to win in order to succeed. Winning feels good, but it isn’t always everything. If you executed your strategy to perfection but didn’t win, does that mean you didn’t succeed either?

What does it mean to succeed?

Success is something we all strive for as athletes. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. We put in the work every day with only the hope of one day reaching the goals we set out for ourselves. Ask yourself this question: When you don’t win, are you still satisfied with your performance?

Let’s take the Olympic swimmers, for example. Do you think the person who swam in the slow heat and didn’t make it to finals is disappointed by his performance? Maybe, maybe not. The same can be said for athletes who come in second at the Olympics. Some of them will be filled with joy, while others will be disappointed that they didn’t win.

Success has a different meaning to each individual. We are unique, and so are the goals we set for ourselves. When you try your best and don’t succeed, what do you do? You keep going. You work hard in silence and let the results do the talking. The key to success is never to give up.

How to succeed

We can go into great detail by looking at the habits of successful people. However, as I have mentioned before, we are all unique, and so are our road to success. If, at first, you
don’t succeed, you get back up and try again until you do.

One thing all successful athletes have in common is their will to succeed. If your will to succeed is stronger than your will to quit, then you will be successful. However, it is vital to stay on your own road to success. Below are several ideas you can use to stay true to
yourself in reaching your goals:

1. Find something that works for you

Again, everything that worked for someone like Michael Phelps might not necessarily work for you as well. We all have our own ways of doing things. You have to find something that works for you and stay committed to it.

2. Remember that winning doesn’t define you

It feels great to win. As athletes, we are all naturally competitive. With competitiveness comes the will to win. Don’t get me wrong. It is an excellent quality to have. However, when you allow winning to define who you are as an athlete, you might need to rethink your strategies.

3. Know how to lose

Just like winning, losing doesn’t define you. Losing is just as crucial on our road to success as winning. Losing is an opportunity to get better. It allows us to focus on what we might have done wrong during competition and fix those problems.

Often times we confuse winning with success when they really operate in entirely different realms. Yes, sometimes winning is part of success, but it never defines it. When you understand this concept as an athlete, then you are already on the right track.


My name is Rudo Loock and I am from South Africa. I was blessed with an opportunity to go swim for Florida State University. I am a 4-time ACC qualifier and one time NCAA qualifier. After battling many ups and downs throughout my career, I now aim to share my knowledge about the sport’s physical and mental side through my personal blog at with the rest of the swimming world.

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1 month ago

Hi Rudo – love the bit about unique. Your definition of winning v success is solely yours

Have a question: you went a (sick fast ) 1:35 200 in 2019, yet didn’t best that at ACCs in 2020, pre covid. Was that ACC time or place successful as you set it at the time?

Rudo Loock
Reply to  Swimmingly
1 month ago

Yes i believe it was successful. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason. Even though I didn’t best that time in 2020 I had several good take aways from that which helped me grow