One of my favorite quotes is this -
"Hard work will always trump talent, unless talent is willing to work hard"
I'm sure you've all known that person who was 'just naturally good' at something, and you'd think that all those athlete's looking for a place on Olympic Teams all over the world right now are all 'just naturally good' at their chosen sport, but that is just not true. It is very, very, VERY rare that someone can get to the top of their sport (or anything else in life) without working their butt off.
The obvious example of this is Michael Phelps. People saw him win 8 gold medals in the Beijing pool and said 'wow he's talented' or 'he was born to swim' or 'he so fast because his feet are so big!'. What they don't always see or understand is that (by his own admission) he didn't take a day off from swimming for 5 YEARS in the build up to Beijing, just so that he could get all the hard work done. So he swam in the Athens Olympics in 2004 and while every other elite swimmer at those games took a couple of weeks or more off, he got to work preparing for Beijing. That is what got him to the point of being able to compete for all those medals... hard work, motivation, drive, ambition and doing more hard work than the other sometimes 'more talented' athletes he would have to race against.
A less obvious example is Adel - you know the singer who always seems to be at number 1 in the album charts!? Well surely her voice is pure talent? NO. She still has singing lessons!
This is not to say that hard work alone will get you to be the best in the world at whatever you do (pretty sure I could work for YEARS and not sound better than a pub karaoke singer) you do have to have a certain level of skill and natural aptitude towards something to reach that kind of level. What it does mean however, is that you can be a lot better than you are now by dedicating yourself to working hard.
If you want to swim faster, listen to your coaches, trust that they are telling you the right things to do, try to do them and then go to the extra effort of pushing yourself harder than the coach asks you to.
If you want to get good results at school, listen to your teachers, trust that they are telling you the right things to do, try to do them and then go to the extra effort of doing higher quality work that the teacher asks you to.
"Hard work will always trump talent, unless talent is willing to work hard" - everyone in our club has talent. EVERYONE. This talent will blossom at different ages, in different things, but it's there. Just work hard enough to get out what you want.