4 Things to Remember When You Feel Like Giving Up

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Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Athletics

By Chandler Brandes, Swimming World College Intern 

It has come to that point in the season. Exams are upon us, it’s getting darker earlier, and holiday training is fast approaching. Our mid-season meets are over, and maybe we had a great meet, or maybe it didn’t go how we had planned. Long story short, this time of the year is hard.

By now, you’re probably feeling sore, stressed, and mentally and physically exhausted. Your feelings are validated by swimmers all over the world. At times, all of the early mornings and long weekends at meets may not seem worth it, and it would be far easier to just throw in the towel.

Giving up is certainly an option, but it is not the option you want to be remembered by. Think about your proudest moment so far in your swimming career. You did not get there by giving up, and you will not get to where you want to be if you decide to call it quits.

When you feel like giving up…

1. Remember why you started.

Many of us have been involved in this sport for what seems like forever. Our days of splashing around during swim lessons somehow turned into 5:00 a.m. alarms and 9+ practices a week, and our glory days of racing 25s became racing 1650s in the blink of an eye. You may often think about what your life would be like if you had never started swimming so many years ago. But if you never jumped in the pool the first time as a young kid with goggles too big for your face, you would never be where you are now. The friendships, memories, accomplishments, and opportunities made possible because of our sport would not be part of your life. That seven-year-old swimmer that was so happy to get a ribbon despite being disqualified is still inside of you. A long time ago you fell in love with the sport; never forget that.

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Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

2. Focus on the little things.

Maybe you’re not happy with your times at meets, or maybe you just don’t feel like yourself in the water. It’s extremely easy to become frustrated and unmotivated when you’re not swimming fast. If you’re not happy with how you’re performing in the pool, go back to the basics. A simple change in technique could make all the difference. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and fueling your body properly. Celebrate the little successes you achieve each day, like holding a faster interval or lifting heavier weights. These “little things” add up quickly, and get help you get to where you want to faster. Sometimes, all it takes is for one good practice or race for everything to fall back into place.

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo Photography

3. Do it for your team.

If you can no longer do it for yourself, do it for your team. When you feel like backing down during a hard set, think about your teammate next to you who isn’t. If you feel like slacking off during lift, think about your teammate who’s trying to get stronger. No one wants to be around a swimmer who doesn’t try or care, and remember, you are part of something bigger than just yourself. Even if you’ve temporarily given up on yourself, your team will never give up on you, so honor your teammates and your coaches with your effort.

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Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Athletics

4. Look at the bigger picture.

Everyone goes through rough patches; it’s the nature of sport. It’s disheartening not seeing the results you want after putting so much time, energy, and effort into training and competing, but one bad practice, race, or meet does not define who you are as an athlete. When you feel like giving up, look at how far you’ve come; you didn’t make it this far by not working hard. Try not to get too caught up in the small details, and reevaluate your goals to find something that motivates you. By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you’ll have a clearer sense of your goals and how to achieve them.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

Do not lose sight of the reasons why you fell in love with the sport what seems like an eternity ago, and never underestimate the value of going back to the basics and the influence of your team. It gets hard at times, but it’s harder to imagine your life without swimming. As Michael Phelps puts it, “I found something I love, and never gave up.”

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