“Our experiments showed the importance of a person realising early enough when it was better to continue striving for a goal or when it was best to let go and adopt another similar goal,” said Professor Nikos Ntoumanis, an exercise and sport psychologist from the University of Birmingham. “Our research also showed that the reasons behind a sportsperson’s goal are important to know, not just the actual goal.”
The article uses professional tennis player Andy Murray as an example but this study applies to most athletes since athletics is summarily goal-based.
Example: most swimmers won't make it into the Olympic Games or go pro since only two athletes are chosen nationally but many athletes may be able to get a scholarship to college. (That in my opinion is a better option). Most swimmers may not be able to make it to Olympic trials but they can win some races or better their times. (I fall in the 'try to better my times' category). Some swimmers may be that swimmer who always places fourth, fifth, or last, but perhaps the commraderie or the social aspect of swimming provides lifelong friends, discipline and follow-through or a social network that can be leveraged into a better life.
There is also lifeguarding opportunities, coaching, or perhaps starting your own club.
The crus of the study is to let go of the concept failure and make your swim goals more fluid and real.