What can a high school swim meet teach us about life? It turns out, a lot.
This weekend I witnessed an eye opening event at out daughter’s swim meet.
It was held near Dallas in a state-of-the-art natatorium. There were hundreds of swimmers competing in two end-on-end 25 meter pools – one for the girls and one for the boys.
Most events had several heats – and the officials ran everything like clockwork. Splits and finish times were automatically displayed on the digital wall boards.
The results were parsed down to the 100th of a second.
Then it happened.
I looked down at the girl’s pool and saw one lone girl on the starting block for a 500 meter heat.
The officials at these meets select the heats based on past performance, grouping similarly performing swimmers in the same heat.
This girl was apparently in a class by herself.
The race started and she dove in and started her 500 meter race. I’m still learning about swimming, but for the non-swimmer – 500 meters is a long race in competitive swimming. we’re talking 10 laps or 20 lengths of a 50 meter pool!
It became clear that no records would be set with this heat. In addition, the swimmer had failed to position her goggles over her eyes – they were sitting on her forehead.
Finally, the bell rang for the last lap of the race. Nine laps down, one to go.
And that’s when I began to hear it. A building applause for this courageous swimmer. As she swam her final strokes of the race, hundreds of people in the building applauded.
It was a smile, swallow hard and clap louder moment.
– and it’s not unlike what we’re up against every day.
You see, what the entire building of people recognized this weekend was there is more to life than coming in first place.
This is a clarion call for us ordinary people.
It’s not about the getting there faster than everyone else.
The components to meaning, and achievement and life are courage, perseverance, the spirit to try something new and the will to see it through to the end.
Undisciplined talent may take the stage and flash brightly for a moment, but it is the glow of the courageous, perseverant “one-person-heat” folks that will illuminate this world with purpose and lasting achievement.