Learning to Cope with Failure

By Georgia Sweeney


For many people, learning to deal with failure is a very hard thing, even if it’s something relatively insignificant. During freshers week, I signed up for a taster session for rowing and decided I wanted to join the team. To row on water, this meant I had to take a swim test the following day. I wasn’t even worried about it, I assumed everyone could just naturally swim. But I got to the swim test and part of it involved swimming completely submerged for 5m, and I failed. I couldn’t even get myself deep enough in the water to make the full length. I was annoyed but just assumed I was tired from freshers week and out of practice. I carried on doing erg training with the team but I felt like I didn’t quite fit in because I couldn’t relate to the early morning starts.


So leading up to my second attempt I went to a local swimming pool a few times and worked out how to actually get myself submerged. I failed many times in practice but managed to successfully dive a few times. The day of my second test I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t want to let my team down again and fail even though they were being so supportive and making every effort for me to feel included. I was shaking as I walked in but I tried to be optimistic. I went to dive under water and – an improvement – I actually managed to stay submerged. However, I just started to panic, felt I couldn’t breathe, and came up early. This time I was so upset with myself. I literally started crying in front of the assessor and dreaded having to tell my team captain that I failed again. But once again they were so supportive and not long after my third test was booked. I had a bit more practice earlier in the week and tried to get less worked up about this one. It helped that my team told me I had a back up test booked already – whether that was true or not. The test day came and I passed. I was so happy that I just came up grinning.


Yes it may have taken me more tries than the average person but I got there in the end. Moreover, it was my determination that got me there. I taught myself how to dive properly despite no experience and whilst the fear of failure got into my head once, I managed to overcome it.