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This was just one of those swim meets, hundreds of parents sitting upstairs, watching down their kids to compete.

A 9 years old girl got up on the starting block.  In anticipation of the whistle, she fell into the pool.  Realizing the mistake, she quickly swam back and climbed up.  When she attempted to climb on the block again and be ready for the start, an official called her down and ordered her to wait on the side and watch the other girls to finish. 

She was apparently puzzled, as this kind of mistakes happen all the time – kids started before the whistle.  They have ALWAYS been allowed to get back on the block and start over.

Not this time.

After the other girls finished their event, the same official murmured something into this girl’s ear.  From a far distance, I could see the girl was almost crashed and started to walk out with head down, and most probably with tears as well.  It was too much of humiliation for a 9 years old girl, in front of hundreds of parents, in front of her coaches, and in front of her friends.


I understand the rule.  The girl was disqualified.  But why not allow her just to finish her swim?  What harm will that do, to anybody?  You can mark DQ on your paper and she won’t have a time, but it will save her pride.

The official had the power.  Within the limit of his power, he could have made a different decision and saved the girl’s pride.  He reacted intuitively, and made a not-mistaken, but poor choice.

This is what power really is – the ability of making choices that impact other people, with good or ill effects, irregardless of intention.  Those who received your choices may be your children, your employees, even the whole nation; but today, it was the 9 years old little girl who simply prepared to swim hard to drop half a second of her 100 yard freestyle.

* 2/9/2019 update – Learned at a later time that, in a separate session, the same kind of incidence happened on a different girl who were not allowed to swim either.  It is apparent now this was a new rule set for this meet.  So my above comments are not fair to that specific official who simply did his job.  Please just treat this is a hypothetical story which still suits well to explain the concept of “power”, I think.  Happy reading.

1 thought on “Power”

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