The Little Mermaid Has Nothing on These Heroes
By J. R. Martin (Story retold by J. R. Martin as witnessed by Mr. David Wright)
Not so long ago in a land not so far away lived some local hometown heroes…Like most fantasies, this story involves magic and other supernatural elements. However, unlike a fantasy, this story is true. The events are fact. The heroes are real.
The setting was a high school swimming competition at our very own Southern Utah University Natatorium in Cedar City, Utah. It happened just a few years ago. The story began as each lady swimmer stepped on the platform and took her lane. Onlookers could easily identify each athlete. From outward appearances, each seemed equally qualified to win. All swimmers were poised but anxious. Obviously, the goal was to swim faster than the others and win the event. The event was the individual 400-meter medley, a race requiring 100 meters of four different strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Rules for this competition clearly stated that at the end of the race, all swimmers were to remain in the pool at their posts at the end of the lane until all the swimmers had completed the race; any participant leaving her post would be automatically disqualified.
When the starting whistle sounded, the anxious friends and family members of the swimmers watched with interest. It didn’t take long for the crowd to clearly see that the swimmer in the middle lane was falling behind. As the race progressed, the gap between this swimmer and the other swimmers grew wider and wider. In fact, the fastest swimmers completed the entire 400 meters before this struggling swimmer had completed the first 100 meters. She paused at the turn,obviously embarrassed, and requested to quit. Poolside, her coach and a loved one encouraged her to press on. So reluctantly, she swam on.
After completing the second lap, the struggling swimmer gained more support. Now her competitors and the spectators began to join together and cheer her on. The cheering intensified, and the lone swimmer began to gain momentum.
Then the magic happened. An athlete in an adjacent lane left her post! She began to swim side by side and stroke by stroke with this struggling athlete. This heroic action catalyzed the other athletes. One by one, each athlete left her post and took her respective position in pace with the middle-lane swimmer. Each lane glided in perfect unity. The crowd rose to their feet and cheered as never before when all swimmers finished the event together. Hearts pounded as the crowd witnessed a finish line of heroes.
Ironically, every swimmer except the slowest one was disqualified. The slowest swimmer won!
As I see it, every athlete in that event rose out of the pool a victor! Good prevailed. I am confident that with the attitude and effort they demonstrated that day, every one of those ladies will live happily ever after.