When ‘the Promised Swimmer’ Sinks

When ‘the Promised Swimmer’ Sinks

You say you can do it, you’re certain you can handle it. You’re sure you can achieve it, and you’re absolutely 100% positive you can follow through.


And that’s a big but …

Then you don’t.

For lack of a better term, you choke.

You know what I mean, right?

It’s the little thing called “deflective non-performance” where instead of taking responsibility and learning from our failures, we blame everyone else for what has (or has not) occurred.

I’ve actually coined the term, “the promised swimmer.”

Definition: The strong Olympian aquanaut who claims they can handle the forceful tides that come along with any varying ocean current, but then turn out to be nothing more than an expert dog paddler.

Ya know — a whole lotta promise without a whole lotta follow through.

Although, don’t get me wrong …

This person’s swimming talents kick in along with their record-breaking breast stroke when trying to elude or escape whatever they are in that they can’t follow through with or get out of. 

Throughout life, both personally and professionally, I have witnessed countless instances that pertain to this exact concept.

Allow me for a brief moment to explain.

I’ve coached brokenhearted clients who started off the romantic relationship with more vigor and promise than a thoroughbred racehorse entering the starting gate of the derby — only to be let down when it comes down to committing or following through.

I’ve seen so many marriages where once the responsibility of children and real life inevitably came along it was too much to handle, and other outlets, i.e., affairs, gambling, abuse, drugs, alcohol and divorce, were turned to. 

I have heard partners promise everything and anything under the stars in order to get married and then wind up walking away because something in the marriage was just a little too hard to handle, i.e., in-laws, business issues, finance reversals.

The real question is, when is walking away or not fulfilling the original intent or promise justified? And is the cost of what will have to be endured to achieve what was originally assured worth it?

I mean c’mon, we all make promises that at one time or another can’t be 100% kept:

I’ll never leave you.
I won’t tell anyone.
I’ll for sure be there.
I won’t talk to him/her ever again.
I won’t get mad.
I’m going to quit.
I’ll never hurt you.

Listen, I’m not judging. But when we can’t follow through on our promises, somehow accepting some personal responsibility helps us to learn more about our own selves and what we can and cannot handle. Think about that before making any promises of any kind.

The promised swimmer isn’t always a person with bad intentions. Sometimes they just can’t follow through and they value immediate benefit more than future reward (and researchers have, in fact, discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification and immediate results better than long-term comfort).

Bottom line: If we all had 20/20 hindsight we’d make some different choices. But more importantly, in many cases, momentary discomfort is just that — momentary. 

So, the next time bailing on a commitment or promise or choking on the next stage presents itself, resist the pull of giving into immediate feelings. That moment in time can help bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, if you just take a few moments to live in momentary discomfort. Take the time to reevaluate and talk to sensible people who can help weigh the pros and cons of a decision.

And when all else fails, think of a squirrel crossing the road. Sometimes when you’re in such a rush to get to the other side, you end up getting hit by a sedan.

Bottom line, look both ways before you make a knee jerk decision. 

Until next time,


Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin has a BA in sociology, with a minor in psychology earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger and past columnist. She is currently accepting clients and advertisers and can be reached @[email protected].


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