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“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

Many times in life, I’ve been guilty of not hitting the finish line– and I’m trying to change that.

I started this year with one of the toughest things on my list of aspirations: learning how to swim. I’ve spent more than three decades being scared of water (even of a bathtub)– but last December, I decided enough was enough.

January found me at the swimming pool, terrified of dunking my head in water, choking and spluttering.

I let myself float a few times that month, gave up completely in February, dragged myself back to the pool in March, and swam my first lap– in the most ridiculous tadpole fashion, in April.

Swimming against the odds

Swimming against the odds

Today I swam a 100m lap without any distress. I may not be the most elegant swimmer in the pool, and I’m certainly the slowest, but I can make it from end of the pool to the other, and I can’t believe it.

Though a whole large chunk of the credit goes to my swimming instructor (you know who you are, and I can never thank you enough for your relentless patience!),Ā  I feel some of it goes to my refusal to give up.

I plan to take this to all aspects of my life– whenever the urge to give up on something strikes me, I know I’m going to think of how I learned to swim.

So, when it comes to an endeavor, do you persevere? What inspires you to stick to it? When do you give up?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Revive Rx says:

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  • Good for you! I’ll be eighty in four months’ time and I still cannot swim. I was saying today that I need a new challenge (having completed a novel after quite a long time of saying, ‘never again’). Now I am wondering about the best way to try to swim once more. I hear it is good for arthritis too.

  • Thanks for the inspiration this morning. Those long standing fears are the hardest to get over.
    I try to do something new every day and to take advantage of every opportunity, but I get bored easily. It can be hard to persevere at something and it is so important. It does seem to get easier as I get older.
    It is also easier now my six sons are grown up and I can think a complete thought again.
    Thanks for the inspiration and have a happy day.

  • Stuart Nager says: Gave you a well deserved award

  • J.C. Martin says:

    Well done on beating your fear and learning how to swim! In our children’s martial arts classes, we frequently quote the saying “A black belt is only a white belt who never gave up.” When you suffer setbacks, perseverance is what helps you through, to get you to eventually reach your goal.

  • Congratulations! šŸ™‚

    I have an awful habit of giving up on things when the going gets too tough. The only things I’ve ever persevered with are my marriage and writing *snigger* šŸ˜‰

    For me, something has to be rewarding for me to not give up on it. I’m only at the start of my writing (hopefully) career, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a time that I feel I’ve achieved something, and that will be the reward šŸ™‚

    Great post btw xx

  • emmalmoore says:

    I’m proud of your perseverence. At 30 I had to persevere in my endeaver to learn how to swim after a boy held my head under the water when I was 6 years old. I even jumped off the high diving board. That really was the big one but I had to do it to pass the class. Congrats again.

  • That is awesome! I have been a swimmer all my life, and willing to try new things, but had an epic fail recently when I took scuba class. I do not like being 17 feet under water with a 50 pound tank on my back. I want to breathe fresh clean air. I plan to stay on top of the water from now on šŸ™‚

  • Arindam says:

    This is quite a success story. Now whenever the urge to give up on something strikes me too, Iā€™m going to think of how you learned to swim. This post remember me of a quote which I read in school days, which is “Winners never quit and quitters never winner”. I am glad that, you did not quit and became the winner.

  • marianallen says:

    Oh, you’re WONDERFUL! My Aunt Rose saw to it that I learned to swim, but my mother never learned, and I feel sorry for all the fun she’s missed. I do persevere, most recently with setting up a new operating system on my computer. At the moment, I’ve given up on doing what I want with it because it’s impossible. That doesn’t always stop me, but I don’t have time to MAKE it possible. lol

  • Congrats! That is wonderful and I love this topic….for me perseverence takes on many shades…I have often given up because I have had difficulty reading signals and making subtle changes along the way because of my need to control…thank you… This post reminds me that I’ve made a lot of progress in that area.

  • Tonja says:

    That’s awesome! I think perseverence is the key to success in anything – and confidence.