So my 10 year old son is a swimmer. A pretty doggone good one, too. Last summer, he set several team records and one league record. He was the high point winner in his age group at the city championships. He’s on a year-round team now, and is soooo close to qualifying for Junior Olympics in several races he can almost taste it.
Yesterday was his gold medal day.
No – he didn’t win one. He got to hold one, and meet a gold medalist. He met Rowdy Gaines.
For those of us who are children of the 1980’s, we remember Rowdy as the 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He was in some epic races against Matt Biondi. What you may not know is that Randy didn’t start swimming competitively until he was 17. Despite that, he was an 8 time NCAA champion, a 22 time NCAA All-American, a 17 time national champion, 11 time world record holder, and a 5 time world champion. He was named World Simmer of the Year in 1980 and SEC Athlete of the Year in 1981, ranked ahead of Herschel Walker, that year’s Heisman Trophy winner. He still swims, and is among the highest ranked masters swimmers in the country.
Yesterday, he held a clinic for my son’s swim team. He brought his gold medals, and let the kids hold them, put them on and take pictures with them. Carter got a couple of really cool shots, and couldn’t stop talking about it all night. After a talk with the kids, Rowdy got into the pool and actually worked with the kids!
The amazing thing to me about yesterday is not that my son got to meet a world class athlete, or that he had his picture taken with him. The really cool thing is that Carter learned some pretty powerful lessons about perseverance, hard work and dedication. Those lessons will be things that he can apply to all facets of his life – not just sports.
And…he got to hold a gold medal and dream that one day he could get one of his own…
To learn more about Rowdy Gaines and the work he does with kids, visit his website at http://www.rowdygaines.com.