Never save anything for the swim back…

Yesterday morning I jumped in the lake for a quick dip, and then decided I’d go for an actual swim. (I’m up north at a cottage right now – soaking in my fave way to enjoy the Canadian summer – feeling pretty grateful!)

At first, I told myself I’d do 100 strokes in each direction. And as I was approaching the last stoke, I thought, why not just keep going? A little over 500m up ahead was a floating dock, with a bright yellow slide. So that became my new goal, my new target.

It reminded me of a powerful scene from the movie Gattaca, where two brothers – one who had been genetically modified before birth and physically ‘superior’ – replayed a ritual they used to do when they were younger. They would run into the ocean, and start swimming… to see who could go the furthest and outswim the other. And it was always Vincent, the genetically ‘inferior’ brother, who tested far less strong and able, who would win every time.

Once again, his brother Anton could no longer keep up and yelled ahead to Vincent to turn back. Struggling to get his words out amidst the crashing waves, he asked him how he did it. How he managed to do any of it – any of all he had achieved in his life… far surpassing anything that was ever expected of him.

You want to know how I did it?” Vincent yelled back. “This is how I did it, Anton.
I never saved anything for the swim back.”

It was a powerful moment. (And watching this scene is far more powerful than I’m expressing here, believe me! In fact, the movie is worth the watch…) 

And it’s a powerful idea.

Never save anything for the way back. 

To me, this idea is all about giving it your all, going full out, and not worrying if you’re going to get there, how you’re going to get there, and what you’ll have left at the end of it.

It could also be interpreted as a warning not to jump ahead to what doesn’t even exist yet. As sometimes it’s the fear of what could be or the anxiety of what doesn’t yet exist, that prevents people from taking the first step – or stroke – at all.

And yet there’s no point spending energy in a future that does not yet exist!

It’s really about committing to the journey, taking it one step at a time, being willing to take the risk, and trusting you will figure it all out as you go. 

There have been numerous times where I have tip-toed – dipped in with only one foot – instead of diving in headfirst. And you know what? I never get where I want to go, nor do I receive the results I was hoping for.

I’ve come to realize it’s a form of self-sabotage. And it never serves me!

The truth is, whenever we’re trying something new, or embarking on a new project or goal of any sort, we’re never going to know exactly what it’s going to look like before we do it.

And moreover, we’re never going to know how we’re going to get there, and what we’re going to come up against in the process.

We’re not guaranteed to make it. We’re not guaranteed to succeed. We’re not guaranteed that it will look or feel as we’d hoped or envisioned it to be.

And yet, nothing is guaranteed in life.

If this global pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that life as we know it can change in a heartbeat. Life can be messy. And life is about living in the moment and doing our best to make the most of every moment.

Those were some of my thoughts during my swim this morning!

And here are some of my thoughts to hopefully inspire you this week:

  1. Take a risk and play all out
  2. Embrace (and enjoy!) the journey
  3. Don’t save anything for the way back 

Don’t be held back because you don’t know what every step of the process will look like.

Don’t worry about whether you will get there, how you will get there, or what it will look like when you do. 

And don’t allow fear of an outcome or a potential future that doesn’t yet exist hold you back!

I dare you to get your brave on this week and go for a “swim”… and not save anything for the way back.

(Let me know what you’re going to take on this week in the comments below, so I can cheer you on!)


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Carol Schulte

Carol is a published author, has been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts, and is a returning guest expert on Rogers TV. Having lived and worked in 16 countries including Ashrams in India and vans in New Zealand, rocked dreadlocks in Thailand and shaved her head for breast cancer, she certainly walks her talk and brings a global perspective to all she does. When she’s not traveling or speaking on stage, you can find her volunteering as a bereavement facilitator, training for her next triathlon, or practicing her serious carpool karaoke game.

Reader Interactions


  1. Cathy says

    Dear Carol, thank you so much for this more than excellent article; I read this right at the time i needed it to give me the boost to continue swimming in my journey! Thank you for your honesty and sharing your own experience!

    • Carol Schulte says

      I so love when you read something at the exact time you need it most… you’re clearly on the right track. Keep on swimming!!!

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