Open Water Swimmers Have Grit

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When we observe open water swimmers in the ocean or on lake, struggling against Mother Nature as they strive to reach their potential, one word comes immediately to mind: grit.

Tough and tenacious. Committed and courageous. Open water swimmers are the epitome of grit.

Professor Angela Duckworth is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Founder and Scientific Director of the Character Lab. The Lab advances the science and practice of character development including research on grit, self-control, and other non-IQ competencies that predict success in life.

I define grit as passion and perseverance for long-term goals,” describes the MacArthur Fellow. “It’s what keeps us going when everything else makes it seem easier to give up. In my research, I find that how you score on my Grit Scale — a short survey of your current level of passion and perseverance — predicts achievement.”

In the open water, the more challenging the venue, competition or conditions, the more grit clearly matters.

I now have Grit Scale scores from thousands of American adults. My data provide a snapshot of grit across adulthood. And I’ve discovered a strikingly consistent pattern: grit and age go hand in hand. 60-somethings tend to be grittier, on average, than 50-somethings, who are in turn grittier than 40-somethings, and so on.”

Which is embodied in the members of the Half Century Club.

Her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverence, talks about her Grit Scale. “[Below] are a number of statements that may or may not apply to you. There are no right or wrong answers, so just answer honestly, considering how you compare to most people. At the end, you’ll get a score that reflects how passionate and persevering you see yourself to be.”

Take the test here. Professor Duckworth’s questions are below.

1. New ideas and projects sometimes distract me from previous ones.
2. Setbacks don’t discourage me. I don’t give up easily.
3. I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one.
4. I am a hard worker.
5. I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete.
6. I finish whatever I begin.
7. My interests change from year to year.
8. I am diligent. I never give up.
9. I have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest.
10. I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association