Examples of resilience of the Tokyo Olympic Games

Examples of resilience of the Olympic Games

By Rachel Sansano, Intern at Swimming World College

During the Olympic Games Tokyo, the United States has won an impressive 30 medals, including 11 gold. It was a solid performance for the American team, which was followed by Australia (20) and Great Britain (eight) in the medal count. However, even though the American team’s athletes performed well, it’s important to remember that swimmers are not just athletes, but humans as well.

No one has a perfect run every time they get on the blocks. It is simply not possible. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you hoped. After a bad run or a mistake, it can be difficult to bounce back immediately.

At the 2020 Games, Team USA showed us how important it is to be able to erase things and move on to the next race. All athletes need to be resilient. Throughout any swimmer’s career, obstacles will stand in their way. It’s the athlete’s job to figure out how to get past each of them. This is what separates the good from the great.

Here are a few examples of how American Olympic swimmers overcame obstacles in their path.

Lydie Jacoby

Olympic champion and 17 years old Lydie Jacoby was the breaststroke stage of the US mixed 400 medley relay. During this race, Jacoby experienced every swimmer’s worst nightmare. As soon as she touched the water, her glasses slipped and got stuck in her mouth. Every swimmer can understand that Jacoby has lost his glasses. It has happened to the best of us no matter how hard we squeeze our glasses into our sockets before we get into the race.

Jacoby showed all swimmers that sometimes things that are beyond your control do happen, and he battled it out with a 1:05 gap flat. You can’t control everything. You can only control your response. Jacoby’s response set a great example of focus and mental toughness.

Michel André

Michel André had a lot of pressure on his shoulders before his first Olympics and struggled through a few bumps along the way. In the 200 IM final, Andrew was leading by more than a second when the swimmers reached the last turn. In the last 50 of his race, Andrew struggled and fell back to fifth place. Every swimmer knows this horrible feeling. One second, you’re leading the pack. The next day you have a hard time keeping up.

Andrew quickly brushed off what happened. In his last race of the Tokyo Games, Andrew provided a strong breaststroke leg and helped the United States win gold and set a world record in the 400 IM relay.

Andrew is an example of an Olympian who didn’t give up after things didn’t go as they should. He proved his mental toughness and showed the resilience of a true Olympian.

Katie Ledecky

For a long time, Katie Ledecky was considered unbeatable. But, every Olympian is human. In the 400 freestyle, Ledecky was leading to the 300-meter mark. At the Rio 2016 games, she crushed this event by winning by almost five seconds. This time however, the Australian Ariarne Titmus had other plans. When the swimmers hit the wall, Ledecky was in second place, ahead 0.67 seconds.

While this outcome isn’t what Ledecky was looking for, she didn’t let it linger. Two days later, Ledecky won gold in the 1500 freestyle. She continued her winning streak by adding another gold to her collection in the 800 freestyle. This cover is a great example of how an Olympian reacts to disappointment and adversity. Instead of letting the past control her thoughts, she focused on the next race and kept moving forward.


These are just three examples of the resilience of the Olympics. These athletes played on the biggest stage in the world and stayed in the moment. They didn’t stress what had happened in the past and they didn’t focus on what was wrong. They pushed forward. Their examples of resilience are an inspiration to swimmers of all ages.

All comments are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine or its staff.

Naomi C. Amerson