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by Chris Ritter

July 15, 2014

Missing a goal isn’t always the same thing as being unsuccessful

“Patience is a virtue.” You’ve heard that saying before, but it doesn’t make it any easier to enact. Training hard and not achieving your goal can be very frustrating. You may often ask yourself, “How long should I keep trying before I move on?”

It’s a fair question, and while I don’t have the answer to you specifically, here are some tools to help you as your navigate disappointment in the sport of swimming.

Embrace Delayed Gratification

Swimming isn’t immune to societal changes; everything today moves at light speed, toward more instant gratification. Send a text—get a response. Click this link—a window opens up. But training and achieving high goals is never that quick or easy. But just because it takes a while doesn’t mean you’re not on track or can experience success.

I’ve worked with elite level swimmers who didn’t swim a personal best time for multiple years in a row but they still managed to make it onto the U.S. Olympic team. Would you call that a failure? They would probably say that yes, they still had goals they wanted to achieve, but they also achieved some success and some of their goals.

Embrace the Scope of Your Goal

The bigger your goals, the more time you have to put in. There’s also the paradox that you might achieve success without actually accomplishing your goal. You’ve no doubt heard, “it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters.” And that platitude becomes even more true the more audacious your goal becomes.

Adjust Your Definition

High goals are great to go after and pursue, but when you fall short don’t be quick to label it a failure. It’s possible to achieve success without actually hitting your goals. It may not be as satisfying but your efforts weren’t in vain.


  • Technique and Training