5 Things Swimming Will Teach You About Life

5 Things Swimming Will Teach You About Life

Swimming is not only a popular and enjoyable form of exercise, but it can also teach us valuable life lessons. Whether it’s learning to persevere through setbacks, stay disciplined, or set and achieve goals, the skills and mindset cultivated in the pool can help us overcome challenges and achieve success in other areas of our lives. However, just like swimming can teach us to adjust to different challenges and use the lessons learned to our advantage, other career paths, such as travel healthcare jobs, can additionally teach us the importance of prioritizing health and well-being. 

In this article, Daryna Chumak from job aggregator Jooble explores 5 key things that swimming can teach us about life as well as look at some real-life examples.

Photo by Heart Rules


A lesson in perseverance
Life is full of challenges and setbacks, and it’s easy to get discouraged or give up when things don’t go our way. However, swimming can teach us a lot about perseverance. 

When learning to swim, we face many challenges, such as overcoming the fear of water, physical fatigue, and the difficulty of learning proper techniques. 

Swimming requires patience and perseverance for us to reach a level where we actually become good at it. It requires the will to persevere and keep pushing ourselves even when the outcome is uncertain. This same attitude of determined perseverance can be applied to many other aspects of our lives. 

A real-life example

A real-life illustration is the story of Anthony Ervin, an American swimmer who won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Ervin struggled with depression and substance abuse for years.  Despite being in his mid-30s, he decided to return to competitive swimming, and finally, in 2016, at the age of 35, he qualified for the US Olympic team.

At the Rio Olympics, Ervin won a gold medal in the 50m freestyle, becoming the oldest swimmer to win a gold medal in an individual event. His victory was a glowing testament to his perseverance, despite his age and personal problems.


Swimming requires discipline. It involves following a routine, adhering to specific rules, and staying focused to improve technique, speed, and endurance. These learned skills can teach us to be more disciplined in other areas, such as work, relationships, and personal development.

A real-life example

Missy Franklin, an American swimmer, won five medals at the 2012 London Olympics. A straightforward success story. However, 17-year-old Franklin was still a high school student at the time. Her strict training regime involved waking up at 4:15 am every morning to train for hours before school. Through sheer discipline and determination, Franklin, still in her teens, was able to make her dreams of becoming an Olympic medalist a reality.


Swimming teaches us a lot about setting goals in life. Competitive swimmers need to set short-term and long-term goals to improve their technique, speed, breathing, and endurance.  This same focused approach can be applied to setting and achieving goals and staying motivated and focused in other areas of our lives. 

A real-life example

Katie Ledecky is an American swimmer who, at an early age, set a goal for herself to become one of the best swimmers in the world. At the 2012 London Olympics, at the age of 15, Ledecky won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle and went on to win four more gold medals and a silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, breaking multiple world records in the process.


Competitive swimming is physically and mentally demanding, and swimmers must push their bodies to the limit when competing in a race. This is a life lesson that can teach us all to be more resilient by pushing through mental barriers and to keep going even when things get really tough.

In order to be resilient, we need to cultivate a positive mindset and stay focused, even when faced with difficult setbacks or challenges. The mental resilience needed in competitive swimming teaches us that resilience can help us cope with stress and uncertainty and bounce back from setbacks and failures.

A real-life example

Michael Phelps, one of the greatest swimmers of all time, is a great example of resilience. Phelps faced many challenges throughout his career, including being diagnosed with ADHD and struggling with depression. However, he used them as fuel to become one of the greatest swimmers in history.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while competing in the 200m butterfly, Phelps faced stiff competition from Milorad Cavic, a Serbian swimmer. In the final meters of the race, Cavic was leading, and it seemed like Phelps was going to lose. But Phelps made an incredible surge in the final strokes and touched the wall just 0.01 seconds before Cavic, winning the gold medal. This victory was not just a triumph for Phelps but a testament to his gutsy resilience. 


Although swimming is often considered an individual sport, it also involves teamwork. Swimmers train together, support each other, and compete as part of a team. Moreover, in relays, swimmers must work together to achieve the common goal of winning the race. This same approach can be applied to teamwork at work and in our personal relationships. 

A real-life example

In the 4x100m freestyle relay in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the US team was trailing in the race against a strong French team. With only one leg left to go, Jason Lezak, the oldest member of the US team, was up against Alain Bernard, the world record holder in the 100m freestyle. Lezak trailed Bernard by almost half a body length with only 50 meters to go, and it seemed like the French team was going to win.

But Lezak refused to let his team down. He pushed himself hard, and with just meters to go, he overtook Bernard, winning the gold medal. This victory was not just a personal triumph for Lezak but for the entire US team. 


Final thoughts

By incorporating the lessons we learn from swimming into our daily lives, we can teach ourselves to be better equipped to face life’s obstacles, accomplish great things, and live our best lives.


Author: Walter Cook