The One Thing You Should Have Learned from Rio

The One Thing You Should Have Learned from Rio

Over the last week of the Rio Olympics the memories of the competition in the pool have dimmed a little bit, with the swimming community awash with the tales of a group of swimmers who misbehaved.

I’m not going to cover it here.

There are enough resources dedicated to this topic that you can just as easily head over to Google and you will read all you want to know (and more) about this incident.

It’s too bad that this has become the sticky topic of swimming since the conclusion of events in the pool last week. For most non-swimmer fans, who only come to the sport when it mounts the Olympic stage every four years, this incident will be the lasting impression of our sport from the competition.

But for you swimmers, there is something far more important that you can learn from the swimming events in Brazil.

If you were paying attention you will notice one powerful, overriding lesson:

  • A 16-year old who had never swum at a major international competition won four Olympic medals.
  • A 31-year old man became the oldest individual Olympic gold medalist of all time in our sport.
  • Until five days later a 35-year old man outdid him, shattering the illusion that swimming is a sport solely of youth.
  • A young man from Singapore proved that you can not only look up to your idols, but you can beat them too.
  • A man swam a :56 second breaststroke leg for the first time in history.
  • A world record thought to be unbreakable was not only beat, but shattered by well over two seconds by a swimmer from Hungary.
  • A young woman completely redefined what it means to be a fast middle distance swimmer, dropping another two seconds off of both distance free world records.
  • That being a world record holder or the fastest swimmer in the world at a specific event guarantees you anything.
  • That even in an event that is straight thunderous power and swimmers who bench 160lb dumbbells, you can still be the skinny, lean guy in the field and win.
  • A swimmer from Sweden proved that you don’t need to train in North America with one of the centers or NCAA programs to be excellent.
  • A swimmer from Kazakhstan also proved that gold medals come from outside traditional powerhouse swimming countries.

The Lesson from Rio

At some point every single one of these swimmers was told that their goal was impossible.

That they didn’t have what it took.

That their dreams were too large.

If there is one thing you should learn from Rio…

It’s that you should never let anyone tell you that something cannot be done.

See Also

The Top Female Swimmers of 2016. With Rio all wrapped up we count down the top performers and performances of the year. Number one will not come as a surprise.

The Top Male Swimmers of 2016. With the GOAT ostensibly hanging up his Speedo for the final time, there are some new faces angling to take the title of greatest swimmer on the planet. Here is our recap of the top male swimmers of the year, headlined by Mr. Phelps himself.

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

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