Before every swimming race, Olympic swimmer Santo Condorelli does something that unsuspecting audiences and rivals might take offence to. But here’s the drill: he’s actually giving his dad the finger. In fact, Condorelli and his dad flip each other off before every race.

However, this always doesn’t go down well. For instance, at the 2012 US junior nationals, it seemed that he was giving the world the finger and for which he had to write an apology letter. Since then, he’s adapted his ways and often pretends to  scratch his forehead with his middle finger as part of the good luck ritual.

His Dad Taught Him To Do So

This is how it started. When Condorelli was eight, he was scared by the big guys he would compete against. Failing the swimming matches got him down. So his father, Joseph Condorelli, came up with an ingenious plan to boost his child’s confidence level. Joseph said, ‘“I told him ‘enough is enough. When you get on the blocks, just put everything out of your mind and swim like there’s nobody near you. He said to me ‘how do you do that?’ and I said ‘well, you say f*** it’. So he looked at me in the crowd, and we both gave each other the finger, and he started winning race after race and we never looked back.” Since then, at every race, father and son perform this ritual.

Although it appears as unconventional parenting and not many may approve of it, it clearly has helped Condorelli become a first class swimmer by improving his performance. And seen from their point of view, it certainly does make sense. Telling the world to go f*** itself, is a way of releasing tension by detaching yourself from the goal and not caring what other people think. It creates a frame of mind that allows you to focus on the task at hand, instead of being intimidated or worrying about the trophy.

And that in turn, helps you to win.

Featured photo credit: via