Succeeding, part II

by Neil Moncrief on July 24, 2009

I don’t normally blog here about things of a personal nature, but I want to update you on a post I wrote this past December. In that post, entitled “What will it take to succeed in this economy?“, I told you about my 14-year old son’s new-found desire to become a competitive swimmer. (Despite the title, no, I’m not going to talk about the economy. I’m sick of hearing about that!)

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Will at the Gabrielson Natotorium at UGA

In that first post, I described how my son, Will, had impressed me by attending early morning practices during Thanksgiving break. To summarize, I said that to succeed in swimming (or anything else), the participant must first choose to succeed, and then commit to doing whatever it takes. I compared the road that lay ahead of my son to the struggles faced by small business owners, and I tried to draw some parallels. A lot has happened since that time, so let me bring you up to date.

Will continued to work hard as a ninth grader on his high school swim team, and at the end of the season, he asked if he could join the Flint River Rapids, a local team that trains and competes year-round. We agreed, and so the twice daily practices and long drives to and from Albany State University began. Although his dedication wavered a bit at first, he bounced back as the school year ended, and he’s trained extremely hard through the summer.

A week ago, I got a call from Jeff DeMott, Will’s swimming coach. Four of the team’s older swimmers had qualified to swim as a relay team in the Georgia Seniors State Championships held at the University of Georgia in Athens. However, two of the boys had backed out, so the team would have to replace them or skip the meet.  Ordinarily, Will would not have been considered because the meet was for swimmers 15 years of age or older. (In fact, some of the swimmers at this meet are college students representing NCAA universities during the school year.) But the coach had seen Will’s potential, and he offered him the chance to attend. Opportunities like this are very rare for someone Will’s age.  It was his coach’s intention to motivate him by letting him compete among some of the fastest swimmers in the nation.

I’m writing this from my hotel room, following the first day of the big three-day meet. We knew going in that the relay team didn’t stand a chance at winning. In fact, a national record was broken today in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay (just before our men’s team swam their last event of the day.) Instead, this is one of those times when it really is enough just to be there and do one’s best.

In case you’re wondering, Will swam faster today than ever before. This experience is giving him a new perspective on swimming and his future. He’s enjoying himself immensely, and he deserves it! I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.

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