Success Through Motivation and Rewards


Success Through Motivation and Rewards

All swimmers want to go faster, improve their stroke efficiency, and become the best version of themselves. However, these goals are little steps toward a greater common goal: to succeed in their swimming career. For instance, success could mean improving your personal best, qualifying for states and nationals, or winning an Olympic medal. Therefore, let’s talk about success within swimming and its rewards.

What does success mean?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, success means accomplishing a purpose. Nonetheless, other sources define success as the opposite of failure. With that said, let us exemplify how broad the definition is when applying it to swimming.

For the sake of the example, we will use swimmers A and B. First, Swimmer A, whose main goal is getting a scholarship to continue swimming in college. On the other hand, we have swimmer B, who is looking to make the Olympic Trials cut and eventually make it to the Olympic Games. In both scenarios, swimmers have established specific goals that become a purpose. With that in mind, and according to the dictionary’s definition, both swimmers would succeed once they accomplish their purpose. In the same way, another swimmer could succeed after winning a medal or trophy, if that was the established purpose. Hence, each swimmer can succeed under their own given conditions.

Is Success Only Found Through Medals and Trophies?

Considering that success does not represent the same for every swimmer, we cannot expect there is only one way to award it. That said, there are two types of rewards that go along with success: Internal and external.

Internal Rewards

Some swimmers aim for a purpose that aligns with intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation focuses on the personal satisfaction of accomplishing a goal. Examples of these motivations within swimming are the following: going a personal best, making the desired cut to qualify for another competition, making it to finals at the most important meet of the season, and improving stroke technique. Once swimmers accomplish their purpose, their success is rewarded with achievement emotions. These could be pride, excitement, joy, relief, hope, etc. Subsequently, those fulfilling emotions lead to accomplishment feelings such as confidence, trust, respect, and more.

To sum up, when focusing on intrinsic motivations, success could also have the following definition: the accomplishment of intrinsic goals that result in personal growth and the expansion of competence.

External Rewards

These types of rewards are the most common due to their tangible characteristic. However, external rewards entirely rely on extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation focuses on exhibiting an action that will bring an outside benefit. Getting a scholarship, winning a medal or trophy, and breaking a record, are examples of extrinsic motivations. That aside, success through external rewards can also lead to accomplishment feelings. However, these are commonly attached to the prize received.

In this case, success could also have the following definition: the gain of an outer benefit for accomplishing extrinsic goals through exhibiting an action.

Can Swimmers Succeed Multiple Times?

As mentioned before, there are different ways in which swimmers can succeed. Therefore, it is fundamental that each swimmer constantly sets intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. And yet, these should match the swimmer’s training program and competitive schedule. For example, intrinsic motivations like improving stroke efficiency could become essential when doing preseason workouts and competitions. Similarly, extrinsic motivations have more presence once during the championship season.


To review, the balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are interpersonal factors that leads swimmers to achieve maximum performance. More importantly, each swimmer must define success according to established goals, desires, and physical and mental health.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine or its staff.

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