When student Gerald Hodges of Arlington, Texas joined the Seguin High School swim team, he was lucky that the team lost more often than they won.
Their miserable record was likely the only reason they were willing to take him on. Any other school would have almost certainly told him to go try something else.
He was already an athletic teen, hard-working and driven.
His problem, though, was one that you don’t often stumble across when you’re considering someone for a position on a high school’s swim team—he didn’t know how to swim!
The team’s coach, Alex Weidemann, explained that Hodges was practically in a category all his own. He could “barely swim five yards, let alone 25,” which made it pretty hard for him to get across the pool without getting disqualified.
The team measured their success not on how fast the race was finished, though, but whether it was finished at all—so eventually, Hodges was able to finish the race (even if he finished in last place) to the cheers of his coach and teammates.
His decision to join swim team as someone who didn’t know how to swim may seem surprising to some, but it shows just how hardworking Hodges is at everything he does.
“I felt like if I couldn’t handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person,” Gerald explained.
He joined swim team to help himself overcome an obstacle that, in his mind, was keeping him from being the best person he could be. Even though he was “pretty positive” that he could have made the football team, the basketball team, or even the soccer team with no trouble, he wanted to prove to himself that he could do anything he set his mind to; to him, that meant joining the team that would push him the hardest.
Learning how to swim isn’t easy to begin with, and learning that late in life—when much of the fearlessness that little children can use to their advantage in the water has been replaced by logic, caution, and fear—is something that many would write off completely.
With that never-quit mentality, though, Hodges kept at it for four years, slowly improving his times to catch up to everyone else.
Then, in his senior year regional swim meet, he truly showed just how far he’d come. With Seguin in last place of the 200-yard medley relay, he jumped into the water as the fourth swimmer—and overcame his team’s deficit to send them to state.
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