15 October 2018

Respect & Admiration are the Real Winners

Our Middle School Inter-House Swimming Carnival last week made me think: "Why do we do things when we already know the answer?" Before we started the day I was confident our PE staff could let me know who the faster swimmers were, who would do well and the likely line up for the Inter-School swim meet in two weeks' time. The answer to my question was brilliantly illustrated in the 68th and 82nd races when two boys dived in and attempted to do something they knew they would struggle with, knowing they would trail far behind the others and be obvious not for their speed or style but for the opposite. These two boys did so because they had bought into our philosophy, our culture of "having a go". They had not been successful in the past but here they were once again taking on the risk of failing. They swam to support their team, and in doing so earned 1 point for their House.

There were some terrific races last Tuesday; there were dozens of proud boys with personal bests and 3 new records set on the day. But judging by the encouragement from the boys in the bays, and the celebration of completion, the highlight of the day was Max Avon-Smith 7.4A and Angus Hume 8.6F completing their 50m freestyle and backstroke events respectively. Here was the answer to my question. The carnival was not just to clarify that we already knew who the good swimmers were. It is to offer the 300 other boys who won't make the Inters team, but boys with the courage to have a go, willingness to be part of a team and the desire to contribute, the chance to do so. There were plenty of boys on Tuesday who swam their hearts out and came last. 1 point does not seem a commensurate reward, but I hope it solidifies in these boys' own minds that when difficult, unpalatable situations present, they know they have the inner strength and fortitude based on experiences like the swimming carnival to confront their challenges.

When it had all been swum and won and winners announced, the most magical moment of the day occurred. Both Max and Angus separately, at the end of the day, came and thanked Mr Felgate and Mr Brinsden for a great carnival. What a wonderful illustration of respect and gratitude. These boys have certainly earned my respect and admiration, though more importantly I feel they have earned the respect and admiration of their peers. So is a swimming carnival just about swimming ability? It isn't is it?

Mr Richard Ledger

Head of Middle School