7 Excuses Swimmers Need to Stop Making Now

At their best, excuses are comforting, self-imposed justifications to help us feel better about ourselves. While their intention is somewhat noble (I guess), they tend to have the opposite effect. Instead of protecting us, our reliance on excuses ends up blocking us from achieving the rad things we have in store for our swimming.

Here are 7 excuses you need to stop making as of this moment ya silly goose:

1. It’s too late.

Dude, no. Dara Torres was 45 years old when she competed at the US Olympic Trials in 2012. Yes, 45. Some of you don’t have parents that old yet. She made three different comebacks, nearly making her fourth decade worth of Olympics.

Yes, there are some limits. We aren’t going to live to be 1,000 years of age (not yet, anyway), but time will continue to march on whether or not we are chasing our dreams. So why not spend the time we do have chasing the stuff that we love?

Additionally, no matter where you are at right now, I promise you that a year from now you will say the exact same thing, and when you do get around to getting started, you will wish you had started earlier. So put that nasty slice of regret to bed and get swammin’.

2. Not enough time.

What you mean when this excuse comes around is that you simply don’t have time for the specific thing you need to do to excel.

If you would like to rid yourself of this crutch, all you need to do is sign up for this super simple challenge: For the next three days write down how you spend your time. How much time you spend on Facebook, how long it takes you to eat meals, the time logged in front of the television.

All those little tasks that outwardly seem to take a couple minutes – but actually take up a cumulative heap – will add up to some serious time. Get stock of how you are spending your time so that you can trim the stuff you don’t need and inject the stuff that will get you to your goals.

3. I’m not feeling motivated.

You’re not going to feel 100% motivated all of the time. This is just the way it is. Having to find ways to motivate yourself daily – and the resultant willpower you’d need to unleash all that forced motivation – is difficult, exhausting, and not sustainable over the long term.

So how do you smash this excuse?

By embracing the full, nearly unholy power of habits. Making excellence habitual removes the need to get motivated. When you think about it, your daily life is a collection of habits. Putting on pants. Brushing your teeth. Eating. These are all habits.

Make swimming hard and focused one of these as well.

5 Tips for Achieving Day-to-Day Excellence in the Pool

4. I don’t have enough talent.

No matter how supernatural and mysterious talent is made out to be, certain kids aren’t born with more swimming talent than others. No joke. Read that again if you have to, but I am going to emphasize it for you just so that you can wrap your head around it (don’t worry, took me a couple tries the first time I heard it as well) – that fast kid next to you? The one whose parents and coach always say was born with more talent than anyone else? That kid does not have more “talent” than you.

Those with “talent” are simply athletes who have practiced smarter, for longer than you. Yes, some are born with more hunger for success than others, while some kids may have genetic gifts such as above average height or massive feet, but more talent? Nope.

Put aside the idea of innate talent and focus on execution, of swimming at an excellent level. Once you do this long enough, once you get used to practicing at a high level, others will look at you as well and say, “Jeez, he/she is really talented!”

5. I might fail.


But in all seriousness, what is the worst that is going to happen if you did fail? Let’s exaggerate this fear a little even. What is the absolute, worstest, most awfulest thing that would happen if you failed?

Let me save you the suspense: Not much.

There are a couple reasons for this:

  1. We over-exaggerate our future failures. When imagining that failure we get really excited. It’s almost as though we enjoy the process of future-tormenting ourselves. What’s happening is that our brain goes into self-preservation mode by imagining the worst case scenario. I don’t want to have to experience that. Please make sure that we don’t have to go anywhere near that failure. In this instance, our brains are mistaken. It isn’t protecting you, it’s being that overprotective parent, but inside your head.
  2. You are way tougher than you realize. Think back to the last time you stunk up the joint. I mean really stunk up the joint. Maybe even that time you DFL’d at the biggest meet of the year. Did you bounce back after that race? Yes, of course you did. Sure it hurt for a little bit, but you came back. Here is the reality: yes, you will fail again. Yes, it will sting. And yes, you will recover.

6. I don’t know where to start.

This one is much simpler to deal with. The reason you feel this way is because the goal is so big, so mind-numbingly awesome, that it is equally daunting. So daunting, in fact, that you have literally no idea where to begin. And as a result, you don’t.

Punch this excuse square in the mouth by writing out a plan that starts with your end goal. Work backwards, outlining all of the steps and things you are going to have to improve. It’s important that you don’t go halfway on this, trace your steps all the way back to where you are at now.

And the last step? The one that brings your goal right to today’s doorstep? Well, that first step should be something you can start today right now. Not later, not tomorrow, not when you feel like it.

Right now.

7. Others say that it can’t be done.

This one is my simultaneously my least favorite on this list, because sometimes “others” are people in authority positions, and yet it has also worked to motivate me in the past as I get a profound sense of joy in proving people wrong.

There is nothing worse than throwing a wet towel on someone’s dreams. Well, that’s not entirely true. What could make it worse is a supposed authority person being the towel thrower. I won’t deny it, it is very difficult to have a coach, fellow swimmer, or revered authority in the sport tell you that the things you want to achieve are not possible.

Neutralize this excuse by adopting a me-against-the-world mentality. My old man used this well with me. As a precocious and sometimes unfocused age grouper I would need the occasional motivational jolt, and my pops, the sneaky guy that he was, recognized that I responded well when being told that so-and-so said that I couldn’t do something. Nothing lit a fire under my arse faster than someone in an authority position – higher the better – saying that I couldn’t do something.

Use other people’s doubt and naysaying to fuel and motivate you, for there truly is no better feeling than accomplishing something people said could not be done.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of YourSwimLog.com. He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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