Sometimes Trying is Winning: A Swim Team Story

I’m still at a writing conference so I’m putting up my previous post about a girl who placed last at a swim meet I was at.

As a mom, it reminds me to focus more on effort than end result.

And it reminds me that winning isn’t everything.

What do you think?

I look forward to hearing from you. :)

Sometimes Trying is Winning

A few days ago, as I waited for my kids to dry off at their swim meet, I caught the last part of another group’s race.

All of the swimmers had finished, except for a young girl in the middle lane. She was struggling with her backstroke and was not quite halfway through her lap. Most of the cheering had quieted and all eyes were on her.

But one voice could still be heard.

Alongside the pool, this young girl’s dad walked at the same pace she swam.

“You can do it! Keep going!” he shouted, smiling.

You could tell he was proud that even though she was having a hard time, she wasn’t giving up.

It didn’t matter that the other swimmers had already finished.

It didn’t matter that his child would come in last.

What mattered to this man was that his daughter knew he believed in her.

He wasn’t sitting back in the bleachers, disappointed or frustrated. He was by her side, cheering her on. And when she finished her lap and climbed out of the pool, he beamed. “Good job!”

I got a lump in my throat just watching.

And it reminded me that winning isn’t as important as we often make it out to be.

As parents, I think sometimes we get too caught up in wanting our kids to succeed, focusing more on competing than whether or not our kids are having fun or building character.

And maybe we forget that sometimes, trying is winning.

Even though I appreciate my kids’ strengths and weaknesses, and I know they’ll be good at some things and not others, I admit there’ve been times I’ve caught myself on the edge of my seat at a game wanting my child to score that winning goal.

Or make that basket.

Or hit that homerun.

Most of the time, I think our desire to see our kids succeed simply comes from wanting the best for them. Whether it’s in school, in sports, or in life. And I’m not saying that winning is bad. It’s not. We should teach our kids to reach for goals, and try hard, and learn how to apply themselves.

But I believe there’s a balance to be found, even though that’s sometimes hard to do.

If our kids are giving their best effort, should it matter if they come in last?

And what good is first place if they only push themselves for our approval? A loss every now and then just might build more character than an undefeated season.

I want to remember how that dad at the swim meet encouraged his daughter.

I want to remember his seemingly unconditional pride.

Because I want to give my kids that same kind of lift.

Whether they come in first place or last.

Whether they win or lose.

I want them to know I’m proud of them.

Always. :)

If you haven’t already, leave your URL in the link list below, so other moms can stop by your site and say hi. It’s a simple way for moms to come alongside other moms.


  1. I love this story Genny. I'm with you, I want my boys to know that I'm proud of their efforts, even if the finished product isn't as polished or perfect as someone elses. There are so many voices in this world that will tear them down and diminish them in so many ways. I pray that mine will always be a voice that lifts them up even while correcting their course when needed. (I hope your conference is going great!)

  2. So true. If we train our kids to perform for applause, they give control and power of their lives over to others. If they can find what they're passionate about, they become self directed and motivated. The approval is the merely the cherry on the cake.

  3. What an awesome story! And a great day. :-)That girl learned a valuable lesson I think, not one that can be learned when you win all the time.Thanks for sharing! I hope you're having fun at the conference. :-)

  4. This is a wonderful reminder Genny… about what is truly important!Thanks for this blessing today!Amanda

  5. This reminds me of my very first swim meet. I was six. I was terrified. I swam about half-way, and then struggled between swimming the rest and hanging on to the rope. But I never touched the bottom. I finished. And my parents (who were so proud of me) bought me the new bike I had been wanting. :) I can still remember that meet. And that was a LONG time ago!You're right…there is a balance between teaching our kids to reach for goals, succeed and win, and for giving their best effort whether they win or not. After all, isn't that success in itself?

Comments are closed.