what I learned from failing

What I Learned From Failing To Make The 2012 Olympic Team

What I Learned From Failing To Make The 2012 Olympic Team

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


This post was published on April 25th 2012 after I finished 3rd in the 200 Breaststroke at South African Olympic Trials and failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic team.

Thank you is definitely where I will start this post. The support I have received has been incredible. Not just over the past week or the past month. The support over the last 10 years has been mind blowing. The words on this page will never be enough to truly reflect the gratitude I feel. Thank you.

This journey started ten years ago. I was 16 at the time and less than a year into my competitive swimming career. Qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, I got hooked. I knew I was going to be on a journey chasing a dream for many years to come.

That journey came to an end last week in South Africa at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

It didn’t end the way I thought it would. This wasn’t the result I had worked for.

I am heart broken and disappointed with how it all played out.

I am disappointed with the times I swam at trials and the positions I finished. I am disappointed because the hard work I put in didn’t pay off when I needed it to. My heart hurts because the sacrifices I made and the commitment I swore to did not get me to the London Olympics.

But, at the same time I can’t help but feel content.

I did everything I could. And that alone is good enough for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of losing. You can’t be a competitive athlete if you’re ok with losing. Yet the cliche that titled my first ever blog post years ago holds true; “Life is about the journey, enjoy the ride”.

I am content because I know that I committed 100% to my dream. I am satisfied because I don’t regret doing or not doing anything leading up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. I am satisfied because I honestly could not have given anything more to my dream.

And I am proud of that.

Here’s What I Learned From Failing:

More than success, what matters in life is having the balls to put yourself out there. Being willing to commit 100% and taking responsibility for your life.

My greatest fear is that as I grow older, I will allow life to get in the way of my dreams. I’ll get caught up in my day to day struggles and forget about what I really want to achieve.

I never want to stop dreaming big, or start thinking “practically”. I don’t want to be the guy that makes excuses for why I can’t do something or blame others for any inability.

what I learned from failing

Myself with Neil Versfeld (9th in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) and Terence Parkin (2nd in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2000 Sydney Olympics)

My Olympic Dream was a big dream, but I have lived like it was a reality for the last couple of years. I am proud of that.

The journey has been one of a kind and incredibly rewarding. I’ve had the opportunity to see amazing places because of my swimming.

I have met and raced against some very cool people. I had incredible doctors, surgeons, therapists and trainers help me through my injuries.

I worked with inspiring and knowledgable coaches. And I’ve seen and felt support from friends that gave me goosebumps.

I received emotional and financial help from a family that loves me unconditionally. And have shared most of the journey with an incredible woman who stood by me through it all.

I may not have made the Olympic cut but I wouldn’t change any of my experiences for the world.

So that is what I learned from failing.

Find your Olympic Dream my friends and follow it like there is no tomorrow.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President 1896 – 1925.


Today I Won A National Championship

Today I Won A National Championship


On the evening of May 29th 2007 I lay in a hospital unable to sit up. As I lay there is a dull ache running through my abs I questioned if I would ever be able to swim fast again.

I was recovering from the second invasive surgery I had gone through in 4 months. The surgeons were trying to repair the pelvic instability that had caused a lot of pain through 2006. Pushing your body comes with a price.

Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”.

He couldn’t be more right.

Life often feels like an unending series of hurdles. Filled with crap that we don’t choose and don’t deserve. Usually, it’s not fair. And it can quickly take the wind out of your sails.

But if you can find a way to respond positively. Dig up the motivation to keep moving forward regardless. And refuse to give up on what we want out of life, then this week I learned that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This weekend I became a National Champion.

The last 4 years have been an incredible journey. My dream is only just getting started. But it’s amazing to sit down and reflect for a moment on where you have been on the path to where you are now.

I can’t help but appreciate the challenges. And realize the incredible people that have been there for me along the way. The entire process has helped me learn and grow.

I won both the 100 & 200 Breaststroke this weekend. Setting a new NCAA record in the 200 and took home the 2011 Men’s Swimmer of the year award.

Whitworth’s Rory Buck wins national 100-yard breaststroke

rory buck swimming

I know without a doubt that I have more in me, a lot more. And I am excited about what will happen next year.

I have been overwhelmed by the support everyone has shown to me in the last week. Thank you so much for the love! I really appreciate it. I’m headed to South Africa on Saturday for World Championship Trials. I have no idea what I have left in the tank, only time will tell. I’ll keep you all updated!

Rory Buck Swimming The 100 Breaststroke

Rory Buck Swimming The 200 Breaststroke


Swimming is lonely

Swim For Something Greater Than Yourself

Swim For Something Greater Than Yourself

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


Swimming is lonely. It’s a very selfish and individual sport. The water makes it more individual than tennis or track. It’s a medium that isolates you.

Here’s Why I Feel Swimming Is Lonely

The water doesn’t allow you to communicate while you workout. It sucks you into a world of confinement filled with a blurry view of a black line and a pace clock…

Your ears are filled with commands yelled by a guy who did his time, and is now making sure you do yours. Your head is filled with goals and dreams… and the last thing coach yelled before you pushed off the wall.

Try as you may, swimming is lonely because you have to do the work yourself. Even when there are 5-6 other people in your lane. How well you work on your own determines how well you race.

One day last spring, I was surfing the web. Probably procrastinating on some homework assignment I had to do when I came across this…

“The most powerful thing that I have learned is how amazing it is to swim for something greater than yourself”

It’s is a quote from South African Olympian, Jean Basson. He’s talking about his experience swimming for the University of Arizona.

That quote rocked my world. I re-read it again…

Suddenly it changed the way I saw where I was. Who I was swimming with and what I was involved in.

It made me realize that there is so much more to our team. More than just the than the guys and girls that are on it now. There is so much more to this team than just me.

It got me thinking about the history of the Whitworth Swim Team. About the guys that got it all started. About the men and women, who were grinding up and down the Whitworth pool long before I was even born.

Suddenly I am overcome with pride, thankfulness and motivation.

I am proud that I have the privilege to join such an incredible team and swim with such incredible people. I am proud of what Whitworth Swimming has stood for and what we as a team have accomplished over the years.

I am thankful for all those that came before us.

I am grateful for the legacy they have created. For the stories and folklore they left us. For making the program what it is today.

I am motivated. Motivated to keep the tradition. To remember that no matter what I achieve, I am part of something much much bigger than myself. I am incredibly excited to add to what has been achieved already.

As a Freshman and for most of my Sophomore year I didn’t realize or fully understand all of this. I had a hard time seeing more than the present moment or the task at hand. As I now grow wiser in my years, I am so happy that I figured this out before I graduated from Whitworth.

To be as passionate as I am about swimming and then find here is a whole new dimension to it that I somehow missed before. That’s awesome!

As a small token of my appreciation to the program that has offered me so much I have undertaken to giving back. With the help of Hall of Fame member, Kevin Wang we have begun placing pieces of our history up on the wall of our lobby. While there is still so much more that we can add I am very happy with how it is looking today.


Swimmer can't run

Think Swimming Is Challenging? This Swimmer Can't Run!

Think Swimming Is Challenging? This Swimmer Can’t Run!

Written by Rory | Swim Fitness Advice


This post was published on August 27 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

Here’s an opinion:

Running is for Athletes that can’t… can’t catch, can’t throw, can’t hit a ball, can’t swim, can’t ride a bike…

I mean, is there really any skill involved in running? It’s just like walking, only faster… Right?

Wrong!

Friends, let me share something with you.

● I am an athlete
● I spend many hours a day working out in the pool and in the gym
● I’m in good shape.
● I know how to work hard and push through pain.
● I cried on Wednesday night 3km into a 5km run.

This swimmer can’t run!

It’s true, tears started 3km into what felt like an all out sprint. I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks and the lasagna I had for lunch rapidly rising.

I tried to tell myself I was just sweat from my eyeballs. But who am I kidding?

The only thing that stopped me giving up was Steve. He’s my housemate and 2 x Iron Man finisher. If he hadn’t been yelling at me I would have laid down on the road and sacrificed my body to a passing car.

Steve is one of the triathletes that I coach. I get to torture and hurl verbal abuse at him a couple times a week in the pool. He is a great guy and a committed athlete who. I when ask Steve to “pick it up” he does exactly that.

Any one that has watched me coach or has been coached by me knows that I ask swimmers to “pick it up” a lot! I probably say the word “faster” more than any other word on deck. Steve always obliges to my request, often finishing workouts passed out on deck.

For this reason, and this reason only when Steve had his moment of revenge, telling me to stay strong and pick it up, I did.

I cussed him out for pushing me. Had I had a little more energy I would have thrown a traffic cone his head. But I am grateful to him for pushing me through it.

swimmer can't run

This August, Tri-Fusion Triathlon club has put on a 5km race called the “Hot Summer Nights Series“. I ran all three Wednesday night races and it has been an incredible and eye opening experience for me.

At the end of the swimming season in July, I decided to help strengthen my legs by running a little bit in August. I started out on my own running every other day. Then went for a couple runs with Steve, and then Steve and Roger Thompson. These runs were fun and challenging, but I now know that you don’t have any idea what running is about until you race it.

Here’s how it went..

Race 1:

I decided I was cool enough to hang with the big boys… for a mile… Then as the big boys disappeared I hung with the fast ladies… for a mile… and as the lead woman left me. At that point my dignity and pride disappeared too. I crumbled to a 10 minute final mile to finish in 22.09. Ouch.

Race 2:

Lesson learned last week. Game plan adjusted.

Cruise the first mile. I start a little further back in the pack and run along side a 10 year old kid and his dad. We cruise mile 1. Work it on mile 2, and then the dad says “we got to pick it up son”.

“I can do that” I thought, I’ll stick with them…. or not… as they disappeared into the distance and finished a minute and a half a head of my 21.24. Success is being 45 seconds faster than the previous week though.

Race 3:

Steve paces me. I run. I curse Steve. I cry. I curse Steve again.

I finish. 20.42.

Running is hard. This swimmer can’t run!

I have a new found respect for the sport. You runners are tough.

I will not be fighting any of you for a place on the road. It’s all yours, you can have it. You can keep it.

This fish has no place out of water. I’m going back to the pool.

Are you a swimmer that can’t run? Or have you figured it out? Let me know in the comments below!


Chasing The Olympics; When Dreaming Becomes Real

Chasing The Olympics; When Dreaming Becomes Real

Written by Rory | Personal Blog Post


This post was published on April 7 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

For years I have dreamed of being an Olympian.

It was always a dream. One followed in blind faith that one day, maybe one day, by a mighty act of God it would come true.

729 Days – 13 Hours – 14 Minutes – 50 Seconds

That is what the countdown clock reads.

That’s how long I have to the opening of the greatest spectacle on earth (in my humble opinion at least!). The 2012 London Olympic Games will kick off on this evening, two years from now. On the 27th of July 2012 in the Olympic Stadium in London, England it all begins. To be honest, it makes the hair on my arms and neck stand up.

Every swimmer dreams of going to the Olympic Games, it is the highest level one can reach in our sport.

The ultimate. The Pinnacle.

This from the opening page of P.H. Mullen’s book “Gold in the Water”. It sums up my sentiment perfectly.

Last week at the Western Zone’s Senior Sectional meet my dream of being an Olympian became a whole lot more real.

I won the 100 and 200 Breaststroke at the meet. Breaking meet records in both events with times rank me very well in South Africa.

USA Swimming Sectionals, Mount Hood: Missy Franklin, Rory Buck Set Meet Records

The journey to the 2010 Olympic Games has begun. It’s one that will be 729 days, 12 hours, 26 minutes and 11 seconds long. Let the fun begin.

Rory Buck Swimming The 100m Breaststroke – 1min 03

100m Breaststroke Finals at the 2010 Western Zone’s Senior Sectional Meet

Rory Buck Swimming The 200m Breaststroke – 2min 17

200m Breaststroke Finals at the 2010 Western Zone’s Senior Sectional Meet


Stop Using A Swim Watch; How I Got Faster With Better Technique Swimming Blind

Stop Using A Swim Watch; How I Got Faster With Better Technique Swimming Blind

Written by Rory | Swim Fitness Advice


This post was published on June 21 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

Have you ever heard of  sensory compensation?

Until 2 weeks ago, I hadn’t. But there are a bunch of studies that prove the phenomenon.

At it’s most basic form, sensory compensation works like this:

Lets image you loses one of your senses, like your sight. Once you’ve lost the sense, you brain finds a way to compensate. It does this by heightening one of the other sense. Ten years ago this idea was unproven in scientific circles. Today it’s widely accepted.

So, what did Coach Kevin decide to do with the first training cycle of the summer?

Make us swim with a blind fold on! Only kidding, but it feels like it!

For the two weeks of training there has been no swim watch or clocks on our pool deck. None, nada, zip, zero, nothing.

We’ve had no feedback on how fast you are swimming. No swim watch to give us a send off time… Fast practice, slow practice, no clue?!

Why the madness Kevin?

The idea runs along the line of sensory compensation. By removing the clocks from the pool deck are forced to compensate, shifting our focus to other areas.

To swim fast, you have to get so many things right. Little details can make a big difference. But these sometimes get ignored in workouts that center around send offs and goal times.

When we enter into the technique portion of our work outs the pace is low and controlled. Time is often not taken into consideration and isn’t usually the focus. It’s great that we are developing our technique, mastering the finer points of the stroke. The problem is you NEVER race at a medium pace, you race as fast as you can!

When we swim test sets in practice – ones that most resemble race pace, the focus is usually on the clock. The goal is not to forget about technique, but you end up more concerned with time. The coaches are watching the splits and the swimmers are working towards a goal time. We aim for speed and toughness.

During these sets you’ll get tidbits of technical advice. “Maintaining your posture!”. “Kick off your walls”. But those instructions can get lost with a look at the swim watch and the bark of “FASTER, DESCEND, HARDER, MORE”.

When this no-clock news was first mentioned to the team last Monday, I was very doubtful. I felt that swimming was all about the clock. It’s all about the pace you hold, the send off you go on. If you don’t have the clock you can’t push the pace; if you don’t push the pace you can’t get faster. The clock indicates how well you are doing. You can’t train without a clock!

Two weeks later I am changing my mind.

One thing is for sure – the pace has not dropped. If anything, it has increased. I’m pretty sure the intervals we are pushing off on have decreased too. It sounds odd, but I’m now asking the clock, was limiting us? Is that possible?

Despite it feeling like we’re swimming faster, the focus on technique has improved. The coaches are spending far more time giving stroke feedback. And we seem be absorbing a lot more of it than usual. Kevin’s idea is working!

We have one more week left in this cycle before the clocks come back. It is going to be interesting to see where we are at when the clocks get turned on again. It’s also going to be interesting to see if we are able to maintain the technique improvements we have made.

I’m pretty sure that this exercise has not been a waste of time. I am sure that I will be a better swimmer at the end of this cycle, all thanks to Kevin’s creative genius.


Training Through Pain; The Skill Of Learning When to Back Off

Training Through Pain; The Skill Of Learning When to Back Off

Written by Rory | Swim Fitness Advice


This post was published on May 2 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

“You’re tired. Be careful.” I said to myself after Saturday’s workout. “Lifting heavy 4 times a week on top of 70,000m a week will take it’s toll on your body… “.

Moments later I replied: “Nah, I’m on a roll, I’m making progress! Easing up or taking a day off will cut this party short. I’ve got more in me.”

Score: Rory: 1 – Rory’s Conscience: 0.

At 4.55am on Monday morning I was up and on my way to practice. And it was a very good session. As was Monday afternoon’s practice. Where I pushed a 48 second 100 Freestyle on the last repeat of a grinding set. Something I’m not used to doing.

“See I told you that you had more left in the tank” I said to myself on Monday evening.

I’ve had this kind of conversation with myself many, many times. One in particular stands out…

It was back in 2005 and I had moved from Malawi to South Africa to train. I was working with one of the South African Junior National Coaches, Ryan Skinner. And my training had ramped right up.

The team I swam for in Malawi focused on quality rather than quantity. Our workouts covered about 4000 meters a day and we only swam single sessions. I felt like I needed more… And more I got!

Ryan’s program had us doing doubles and averaging about 15 – 16 000 meters a day. 400% more than I was used to doing. Motivated and determined to make it work I got to grinding.

At the start I had to humbled myself. It took every thing I had to attempt keeping up with the 13 year old girls in the squad. Slowly but surely I got fitter and faster. First being able to keep up, then holding my own.

As I got comfortable with the volume I began to swim more breaststroke. But as I made progress I could sense my body beginning to feel the effects of the big increase in volume.

“You’re tired. Be careful.” I said to myself after a big week of training. “Going from 4000m a day to 16 000m a day will take a toll on your body.”

“You are keeping up with the rest of the squad now though, keep it going, the gains you are making are huge!” I would reply.

That conversation happened over and over for an full year. “No pain, no gain” after all, right?

As the year progressed I found myself in more and more pain. But as the pain increased so did my ability to talk myself out of it and carry on pushing forward.

I began to find it hard to walk though and climbing stairs was an absolute nightmare. Then my mom came to visit me.

One day after practice she noticed me walking differently. I was clearly in pain, even if I failed to acknowledge it. In a very loving way she gave me orders to see a Doctor as soon as possible.

It turned out that I had what they call a “Sportsman’s Hernia”. Which involves a tear of the adductor muscles, usually high up near the attachment to the pubic bone. It is common in sports where repeated strain is placed on the groin and pelvic area. All that breaststroke kick had taken it’s toll.

It took two surgeries and 13 months of rehab to get back into the pool.

Back to Tuesday this past week and I’m working through a set that is challenging. But by no means impossible.

I can feel the right side of my body tighten up. I make it through the first half of the set but I’m finding it excruciatingly painful to breathe.

“No pain, no gain” though remember. So I soldiered on through the workout.

Coach Steve picked up that I was struggling and cut my practice short and sent me to the Athletic Trainers. Where I was told I had strained an oblique…

training through pain

Jessica Cickay published an article recently for runners. But here message was spot on for me too.

“Runners need to be honest with themselves and decide whether an ache is truly a pain” she writes. “Listening to your body and its injury cues are major components of what it means to be a successful runner.”

The points in her article are specific to running. But can be easily adapted to determine if you’re training through pain and decide when to back off. Here are the questions she suggests asking yourself:

1. Am I adjusting my stroke to ease the pain?

When injured my groin in 2005 Ryan would often ask “why are you kicking like that?”. He was reference a change in the mechanics of my kick motion. My body had adjusted to ease the pain. If your stroke unintentionally looks or feels different you need to assess the reasons why.

2. Does the pain get better as I swim and then hurt after?

This often seems to happen with overuse injuries. You feel it before, you feel it after, but while you are working the pain seems to disappear.

3. Am I swimming through pain?

If you feel pain or you anticipate it, you’ve got a problem. Swimming through it won’t only prolongs injury, it zaps the fun out of your workouts too.

4. Why Am I Doing This?

Make sure to check your motives and goals. Are you getting enough rest to allow your body to adapt?

I should have listened to my body when it told me to ease up last Sunday. Lesson learned.

This is no excuse to be soft, but sometimes you need to be smart about your training. Training though pain isn’t always the best option. Being honest with yourself is the key to knowing when it’s time to push through and when you need to ease up. No one knows your body better than you do. It is yours after all.


Sleep Is The Biggest Piece Missing From Your Training

Sleep Is The Biggest Piece Missing From Your Training

Written by Rory | Swim Fitness Advice


This post was published on April 7 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

If you were already maximizing your training time, what’s the #1 thing you’d want to add to your day to get faster & stronger?

The answer is sleep. And you should be getting more of it.

sleep

Growing up, my mom and dad pushed the sleep message hard. My brother and I were in bed at 8pm every night of the week until we were 12 years old.

At 13 the bed time “rule” lost its place a little. But not much changed. Bed time might not have been 8pm every night through high school but it was very seldom later than 9.30.

A lot of you that know me, know that is still the case today. I’m still in bed every night at about 9.30 (2018 edit, yep still going to bed at 9.30). I don’t live in a retirement home, so what’s the reason for the early bed time?

I can answer that with a story about double Olympic Gold medalist Penny Heynes and her sleep. The story goes… in her first three years at the University of Nebraska Penny trained hard. She spent hours working out and refining her skills in the pool. As a result she enjoyed good success at the college level.

Going into her senior year she wanted to take her performance to the next level. To do that, she didn’t train harder. She changed the amount of sleep she was getting.

Doing the same thing in the pool, with the same coach, living on the same schedule as she had previously, Penny went from good performances on the college stage to setting 14 world records and becoming the first woman in history to sweep both the 100 and 200 Breastroke Gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games…

She did the same thing in training as she did in previous years. She slept more, recovered better and good things started to happen.

Now I am not 100% sure about the accuracy of the story. Penny may have made other changes, there may be more to it, it may have been her time. But I believe that the amount of sleep she was getting had a large part to play in her success.

I don’t need any more information or motivation to get back into bed! If you do, here is some science…

The Statistics On Sleep

According to Dr Nicholas Sita “Everyone needs 7 to 10 hours sleep on average, each night… only fifteen percent of Americans report getting 8 or more hours of sleep. 85% of American are operating at about a 25 hour deficit.”

Now here is what I found interesting…

A different study showed that effects of cumulative sleep deficit. At a 19 hour deficit, cognitive and coordination is worse than someone with a .08 blood alcohol level. A .08 blood alcohol level is legally drunk in every country in Europe and in 42 American states. That’s crazy.

The biggest excuse I hear about not getting enough sleep is “I don’t have time”. Bullshit. What you mean to say is, it’s not a high enough priority.

Watch one less hour of TV a week. Spend 30 minutes less scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Stop procrastinating. Most of us can find at least an hour in our day that we waste and could use on some extra sleep.

There are some nights where getting to bed on time is no problem, but falling asleep is a struggle. There are three supplements I use to help me go lights out as soon as my head hits the pillow.

1. Magnesium

Magnesium relieves insomnia by decreasing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can keep you up all night.

2. Gabba

Gabba is a neurotransmitter that can slows down nerve activity. Otherwise healthy people that suffer from insomnia register reduced levels of GABA. Supplementing your diet with Gabba before bed can help get you to sleep quicker.

3. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone made naturally in your body. It’s job is to let your body know that it’s bed time so you can relax and fall asleep easier. I’ve found it to be super helpful in getting me to sleep quicker.

Alright, too much sleep talk. I need some. I would hate to show up to my 8am class in the morning “cognitively drunk”. Heaven forbid!


I Whinge When I'm Tired; Do Athletes Have A Right To Whine?

I Whinge When I’m Tired; Do Athletes Have A Right To Whine?

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


This post was published on March 31 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

This week I have gone back to full time training again… And I’m sore. It’s not the swimming that is making my body hurt. It’s the lifting, but it my body hurts!

Yes, I’m whining about my self inflicted discomfort.

Through my years of training I have been labeled as a “whiner”.

My father may have been the first to bestow this title upon me. Caroline, my Malawian coach gave me a look when I whined. Ryan Skinner, my South African coach, too. Steve, my current coach tells me to quit my whining, as do some of my teammates.

Before you jump on the bandwagon, let’s correctly define whining.

I’m not talking about “down in the dumps”, “life sucks”, “I don’t want to do this any more”, “God, take me now” type whine.

This is a tongue n’ cheek vocalization of my suffering. Not to be confused with the “give up” type whine.

I will very very seldom whine or complain about a practice being too hard. I trust my coaches entirly. I’ll do any workout that gets handed to me by coach, even if I think it’s the wrong thing to do at the time. I have trusted the coaches enough to know what needs to be done on that day, and it always gets done to the best of my ability.

So why do I whine?

I don’t whine to get out of any hard work. I understand “what you put in you get out”. So short cutting the training process is only going to hurt me in the end.

I don’t think of myself as a big attention seeker, maybe I am wrong here… But I don’t whine for the attention or the pity. I may sometimes I look for a little pity from Carla, because she is the best! (If you didn’t read my post on support, read it here and find out why). So why? I know that I am not the only one that does this, so why do we whine?

Here is my simple, self justified answer… Whining makes me feel better.

Swimming is a sport with delay gratification. You wait to reap the rewards of your hard work for month. Only at the end of a season when you shave and taper for the big meet do you get to see your effort rewarded.

Some swimmers can hold out until that point. I get impatient. I want reassurance that my hard work is going to help me achieve my goals. That it will make me as fast as I need to be when I stand up on the blocks to race.

Whining helps me to verbalize the pain I am feeling. Which in turn reassures me that I am heading in the right direction. In some twisted way it helps build confidence in my training and my ability. It verbally and sometimes loudly reminds me that it is all worth it.

Most of the swimmers that hear me whine will jump on the whining bandwagon with me and let me know where they hurt too… When this happens the reassures grows. It’s like group therapy “Hi my name is Rory, and my lats really hurt, what’s wrong with you”!

This is all completely self justified and self rationalized though.

right to whine

“If you have to rationalize or justify your words or your behaviors, question those words and behaviors hard!”

So this is a public attempt at questioning my whiney behavior… I have told you why I whine, why I think most athletes whine.

Now I want to know if you think I am full of bull?

I’m asking you to judge whether you think it is ok for an athlete to have a bit of a whining session when everything hurts. Be serious, or entertain me with your answers, just comment at the bottom of the post. I’ll let you know by Sunday if I like your answer.

Can I have a whine when I wake up at 4.35 am tomorrow morning and have a hard time getting out of bed because my legs hurt?


athletes need support

No One Succeeds Alone; Why Athletes Need Support Structures

No One Succeeds Alone; Why Athletes Need Support Structures

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


This post was published on March 27 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

Success at the highest level is a very large, thousand piece puzzle. This is not a puzzle that you sit down to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon and finish before dinner time.

The pieces of this puzzle don’t come in a neatly packaged box. Or a picture of what the finished product will look like on the front. This is a puzzle that takes time and patience. First you need to get clear on the picture, then find the pieces. Only then can you begin putting them together.

To finish this puzzle you need talent. You need dedication, a drive, and an unflagging passion for what you do. You need the right equipment, the right plan, the right food, the right rest, the right temperament. And those are just the foundational pieces.

There is one more piece, it’s one that I think often gets overlooked…

athletes need support

Support

Athletes need support structures. If you want to succeed, you need a team.

I’ve watched so many athletes fail because they chased the dream alone. Some of them I coached, others I trained with. They all had talent. They all had dedication and a great training program. But they didn’t have the support system they deserved. And it held them back from breaking through.

I have also seen athletes with incredible support systems fail to recognize it, or take it for granted… and the same thing happens, they don’t perform as well as they should.

I am learning more and more how critical this piece of the puzzle is. To be the best you can, as an athlete you need a support structure.

Sometimes support is friendly and cushy. Other times it tells you to quit your bitch’n and get the job done.

Whatever the form, it counts as support if you know that no matter what, you have a team that’s got your back. Whether you win or lose, succeed or completely blow it. The result does not matter because you know those people will be there for you. To love you, give you a hug or a high 5!

When you have a solid support system in place you open a whole new window of opportunity. You’ll have a lot more fun with your training. You’ll enjoy your racng experiences so much more.

I have been very blessed with a family that was incredibly supportive of my swimming over the years. From signing up to help the the Malawi Aquatic Union at the beginning of the journey. To flying 1000 of miles to cheer for me as I swum a 60 second race at the end. Never mind the financial investments that allowed me to live, eat and travel to swim meets. They were there all the way through.

Since 2005 I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of the most wonderful woman in the world too. I am really not sure what I would do without the love and support that I get from Carla (2018 edit – she’s now my wife! ????).

She has been by my side through the the worst of times. Looking after me through my 2007 surgeries when I was about as useless as a human being could be. She is endlessly patient, understanding and flexible. She followed me and my swimming escapades from Durban to Namibia and then to the USA. She has looked after me when I was sick. Loved me when training was tough, fed me when I was hungry, cheered for me when I’ve raced, spread news about my results. She’s the biggest asset I have in my corner.

There are many more people that have shown me love and support over the years and I am so thankful to all of you.

Spread the love, let your athletes know you are there for them regardless of what their results are. Get loud, make some noise, fill the stands, wear the T-shirt and watch as the ability we have to perform, sky rockets!