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“Maybe I’m just not good enough?”: British swimmers’ experiences of attempting to qualify for the Olympic Games
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Volume: 31, Issue: 7, Pages: 1558 - 1573
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The purpose of this study was to explore the transitional experiences of British swimmers as they attempted to qualify for the Olympic Games and gain a place in the British Swimming World Class Performance Programme. An interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach was adopted (Smith JA. Psy...
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The purpose of this study was to explore the transitional experiences of British swimmers as they attempted to qualify for the Olympic Games and gain a place in the British Swimming World Class Performance Programme. An interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach was adopted (Smith JA. Psychol Health 1996;11:261–271). Six swimmers (aged 20–25 years), one of each of their parents, and four coaches completed interviews leading up to and following Olympic trials over an eight‐month period. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and analyzed following the guidelines set out by Smith and Osborne (Smith JA, Osborn M. Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. London: Sage; 2003:51–80). Results indicated that athletes’ transition experiences were characterized by a range of demands, which were categorized into five higher‐order themes (a) Questioning “Am I good enough?”; (b) Managing and fulfilling expectations; (c) Operating within an environment that is working against them; (d) Lacking support and understanding of self and demands; and (e) Maintaining balance versus being an international swimmer. Overall, the results indicate that this attempted transition is complex, challenging, and unique and largely influenced by self‐confidence. Addressing the individual factors impacting on athletes’ self‐confidence appears critical to enhancing swimmers’ transitional experiences at the highest level.
career transitions, confidence, international sport, social support, swimming
Faculty of Science and Engineering