Keep Swimming

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Japanese runner Shizo Kanakuri dropped out midway through the marathon after feeling like he could no longer keep running. He simply took a boat home without telling anyone, and the race officials assumed he had died. Decades later, it was discovered that he was alive and had raised a family in Japan, and the Swedish National Olympic Committee invited him back to finish the race. He accepted and completed the marathon in the recorded time of 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.

“You can quit the race, and nothing that bad will happen,” I tell myself, and roll this thought in my mind as if it were a pearl in my hand as I put on my swim cap and prepare for another 6 am practice. It was soon after an early winter’s premier meet in New Jersey 2015 when I competed in the 100-yard freestyle. I had finished the race, touched the wall, and saw on the scoreboard that I had missed the cut-off for a YMCA National time by one-hundredth of a second. For all the benefits of my nine years in swimming, the rhetoric of persistence I had previously stopped at that moment. How could a hundredth of a second be the difference between me feeling like I had everything versus me feeling like...

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