what I learned from failing

What I Learned From Failing To Make The 2012 Olympic Team

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.


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11 thoughts on “What I Learned From Failing To Make The 2012 Olympic Team”

  1. We are all so proud of you for the hard work and sacrifies you have made. You are an inspiration to all that know you and an example of what an olympian really is.

  2. Wow! Dude what an encouraging story!!!! This is amazing, I feel for you man so close! Is this really the end?

  3. Good Job, Rory,
    It takes a real man to rise above his disappointments and see the good in all that he has accomplished. You have had a tremendous ride. A fantastic journey and many folks have been inspired to do their best because you have set the example. Your journey is not over by any means. We look forward to seeing you soon and in watching life for you as you move forward. Gratefully, Iral & Gwen

  4. Wow Rory what an aweome story!! You can be very proud of your achievements that photo says it all! Keep chasing those dreams kid!

  5. Leanne Shankland

    Your message is amazing – you are an inspiration to so many because of the man you have shown you are. Never stop dreaming as a whole new world awaits even though its in a different direction. i have no doubt you will be successful in whichever path you choose. well done Rory you have achieved what some only dream of. Proud to know you and your wonderful family.

  6. Caroline Powell

    i’ve said this before but if my boys turn out to be half the man you are, rory buck, i’ll be one very happy mother. you’re special.

  7. You’ve shown so much commitment and worked hard towards achieving your goal. That in itself is incredibly admirable. So, it might not have ended the way you planned, but there is a lot for you to proud of including your wins along the way and the people you’ve inspired.

  8. This gave me goosebumps Rory! You have done so well so far and there will be many other things to aim for in your life. Go for them all!

  9. amazin, to get this far shows dedication n commitment beyond what most people can comprehend (did i spell that rite?)

  10. Reading this again so many years later has ripped open my heart, all over again! ???? All the feels. You are everything I ever hoped I would do life alongside. You have learned so much; I have learned so much! You are and always will be, my brightest light xo

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