5 Things That Happen After Achieving a Goal

A marathon swimmer celebrates after meeting her goal of crossing the Catalina Channel. Photo Courtesy: Tamara King

By Abby Bergman, Swimming World College Intern

From winning an Olympic medal to achieving a personal best, from crossing a body of water to reaching a new time standard, most swimmers have goals that drive their daily routine. Whether an athlete is motivated by internal or external factors, achieving goals is an important part of sports participation.

While others have focused on the steps leading up to success, the following are five steps that occur after a goal is achieved:

1. Elation


The Australian women’s 400 freestyle relay team celebrates hitting their goal and brealing a world record at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo Courtesy: USA TODAY Sports-USA TODAY Sports

Elation comes in that moment after you have touched the wall, looked up at the scoreboard, and see that you have finally achieved the time you have worked for for so long. There is a rush of uncontrollable emotion that can only be felt after a goal is achieved through hard work. Marist College Water Polo player Lily Murray explains, “After I reach a goal I feel successful and determined to take on whichever goal I wish to achieve next.”  

2. Exhaustion


Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

Once the achievement begins to sink in, the aches and pains that you have kept at bay during your effort start to come back. Your body remembers that you have just pushed it to its limits, but the soreness is worth it because the goal has been met.

3. Recovery

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A swimmer recieves a massage following a performance. Photo Courtesy: John Mullen

At the end of the season, many swimmers take a little time out of the pool to recover and let their achievements sink in. This time is important as it allows both physical repair as well as mental rest from the stress associated with tough training and performance. Though an athlete may feel without a goal during the recovery phase, it is a vital part of setting new goals. At the same time, an athlete can use this time to think about the people who have helped along the way. Marathon swimmer Paige Christie says,”When I accomplish anything I take a moment to reflect on my journey and be grateful for the people and circumstances that made this possible. I also gain a better understanding of self and limits, or lack thereof. Every success or failure allows you to evolve and improve into the best version of yourself.”

4. A Look Forward


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The step after a milestone has been met is to figure out what your next goal will be. An athlete can feel without direction of they do not have goals or dreams to guide them. After it sinks in that the end point you have been working towards for so long has been met, it is important to find a new target to take aim at. Whether that is a faster time standard, personal best or new outlet all together, having a goal helps swimmers refocus and find purpose. Former Smith College swimmer Erin Walch describes finding a new goal– “I got into a PhD program, now my aim is to finish my PhD program.”

5. Evaluation


Smith College swimmers celebrate after achieving their goal and breaking a school world. Photo Courtesy: Eliza Cummings

Even when you have successfully gone a best time, won a medal, or achieved a time standard, it is valuable to assess if there is anything you could have done differently. Was your technique perfect? Could you have changed your race strategy? Is there anything that you would do differently next time? By asking these questions an athlete can use a successful performance as a stepping stone to an even greater future achievement.

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