04/03/2013 at 11:45 AM EDT
Brandi Chastain's self-imposed standards are as high as the tallest diving ladder on Splash
, so when she performs poorly, the show's newest contestant makes it an issue.
"I think part of the most difficult aspect of what I'm doing is I have really incredibly high goals set for myself," Chastain, 44, recently told PEOPLE.
"I want to do things the right way. I don't want to wallow in mediocrity. I love to get things right. When I don't get them right, that really gets to me."
As she points out, the two-time Women's World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist has had her share of ups and downs since coming onto the show
to replace injured Chuy Bravo.
"I've played soccer for 36 years of my life," she said. "I've been kicked, pushed, hurt and in surgery, but I've never had bruises like the ones I have now until I came to Splash
. There was one day that I hit the water so many times on my back that I literally wanted to give up. It hurt so badly and I asked myself what I was doing. That makes you question your sanity. But then I find myself back up on the platform."
Adds the athlete, "I don't get out of bed unless I'm going to enjoy my day. I love [the show]. There is a big risk and you do have to have courage, but I'm a mom of two sons and I'm constantly trying to find ways to role model with choices and courage and compassion. I have to live by those examples, so this is the perfect opportunity to say ... I'm going to work as hard as I can and do my best."