Top Excuses Swimmers Make, and Why You Shouldn’t

  1. Slippery Walls- One of the biggest excuses a coach will hear is “Coach the wall is horrible for turns”.  Often when a swimmer feels cheated, or disadvantaged, emotions are running too high for the remainder of their events.  High emotions trigger lack of attention to detail, lack of focus and controlled swimming spirals out of control. 
  2. Lack of effort in Practice or Swim Meets- If I’m not really trying, I can’t really lose.  Or, I’m going to lose anyway, so why try? The mind is a funny thing. Swimmers will often give up and talk themselves out of swimming hard when someone, whether in practice or a meet, start beating them.  They begin to doubt their own abilities. In swimming, the only true opponent is the clock; a lack of effort will have the clock beating you every single time.
  3. The Water- The water is too cold/hot or cloudy.  Remember, the water temperature and visibility through the water is out of your control and is the same for all the swimmers.  The water is the same in all 6-8 lanes of the pool.
  4. My goggles (fogged up/ fell off/ filled with water)- Equipment such as goggles, cap, suits etc. are external pieces of equipment which can become faulty at times.  Find ways to overcome the dreaded ‘goggle mishap’. Our equipment is sometimes out of our control, what is under our control is our stroke count, how our strokes feel during the catch and pull, and where we are in the lane.  

An excuse is a contract.  When many of us think of the contracts, we picture corporate giants sitting in the center of a lavish boardroom on Wall Street or a star athlete signing a multi-million dollar deal to compete with a certain team.  An excuse does not fit the mold of what we perceive as a contract, but make no mistake an excuse is a contract you make with yourself. A contract necessitates an exchange. You give something, and you get something. Many of us allow excuses to take root without ever weighing the balance of what you give up verses what you receive.  

The benefits to making an excuse are plain to see.  First you get to avoid something difficult that you do not want to do.  You can tell yourself that it is too hot or cold to get in the water to practice.  You can avoid getting up early to get an extra practice in by convincing you stayed up too late the night before and you need to rest.  The second benefit of an excuse is that you allow yourself an escape from the sting of failure. You didn’t really lose your last race, the water felt really heavy and slow.  It doesn’t matter that you breathed out of your turn, that your streamline was not tight, or that your effort was not there.  

The excuses you make provide you with temporary relief and deniability; however at what cost?  It is safe to say you are not going to reach your goals if you are making any excuses. Could you manager your emotions better?  What events do you need to work on? How is your effort level in practice or in meets? Be a swimmer who takes full responsibility.  Be totally honest and ask yourself if you are making excuses. The toughest swimmers never make excuses for lack of effort or poor performance.  They take an honest assessment of where they are at and strive to improve in areas where they are lacking.