Sunday, July 13, 2008

Part of my letter to Austin

I've included part of my letter to Austin here because is tells a personal story and I thought it would be a good Blog contribution.

Dear Austin,

We looked at the calendar yesterday and made a discovery. You are just completing the third quarter of you mission. Congratulations!!! That is the toughest part. I got to watch some of the Olympic swimming trials. You know I love swimming and to watch elite athletes race is thrilling to me. I look for two key parts to the race. That would be the third quarter and the last 15 feet. The third quarter is always the toughest no matter how long the distance. The adrenaline from the start is over and the grueling work of mastering the race really starts at the half way point. Fatigue settles in as you try and work oxygen deprived muscles to put out more and also save some juice for the end of the race. It is both a body and head game during the tough third quarter. In so many races that is where the eventual champion shows how mentally tough they are as they begin to pull away from the field.

I remember writing to both Celeste and Tiana about the importance of the third quarter of their missions. Disappointments and obstacles seemed harder to overcome during the third quarter. I’m so please that as you have nearly completed your third quarter it seems like you have only gotten stronger. You seem full of energy and commitment to apply all the experience you’ve gained to further the work. There didn’t appear to be any let up over the past 6 months which is fantastic. Either you hid it well or you choose not to let it drag you down. Either way that is the mark of a champion and it establishes you so well to do the next important thing which is to finish hard and fast.

As important as the 3rd quarter, the finish is absolutely critical to success. When I coached the championship swim team in British Columbia the summer before my mission, we had lost every meet against this team from North Vancouver. Going into the second and final day of the Provincial Championships there was no mathematical way we could win enough points to win unless we had a miracle. I got the team together just before finals and told them to remember one thing – finish the last 15 feet so fast you end up in the gutter. It is the key to the entire race, that last 15 ft. It’s only 15 feet and dig down deep inside to wrench your guts out in glory as you steam into the wall. Head down you go for it. I told them that during my Sophomore year in college, at the conference championships, I had swam the fastest 400 IM of my life all the way to 398 yards, but I relaxed for the last two yards and my teammate, Doug Rosborough, touched me out by 6/100’s of a second and set a new school record. I had been ahead of him until 6 inches from the wall. He broke my old record. I was so crushed and I have swum that stinking last 2 yards over a million times in my head, during my life trying to erase my relaxed finish, but it doesn’t wash away.

I told the team that if they would totally swim so fast over the last 15 feet we would win the meet and the provincial championships. I surprised myself with that prediction and was a little scared. But it started happening, in race after race our kids passed up one or two kids during that last 15 ft that we took home the championship trophy. I was going out of my mind as we ended up out scoring the other team by more than 50 points. My team carried me around a 50 meter pool and then threw me in the water. It was one of the most joyous days of my life and I still get heart flutters when I think about it. Compared to how I felt after the 400 IM at conference, I want the strong finish to be my legacy.

I’m telling you this so that you will leverage the hard work and spiritual experiences gained to finish your mission as a champion without letting up a stroke or being distracted by a nearing finish line. Love you son. Make your body tired, your voice raspy, and your companions weak from sprinting to that sad day when they pull your strained fingers away from serving the Lord in the Canadian mission field.




Celeste said...

Wow Dad, that is a incredible story. I've never heard that before, you should tell that story more often. But jsut don't exaggerate anything- keep it real, like you always do.:)

Mikidees said...

Great story dad! And good luck to Austin on finishing strong!