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The Race Is Not Always To The Swift

Via Meadia normally passes over the sports world in silence, but is making an exception for a story from Yahoo Sports.  The story relates how two teen age rowers demonstrated real sportsmanship and humanity by choosing to help two competitors whose boat capsized in 45 degree water in the Schuylkill River.  After helping their rivals to safety, the young men went on to complete the race, finishing last in the official standings, but right at the top where it counts.

As first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia (Pa.) Episcopal Academy rowers James Konopka and Nick Mead made the ultimate sacrifice during their Under-17 doubles race at the Head of the Schuykill regatta on Sunday when they abandoned a promising start to help rescue two fellow competitors who had capsized.

With temperatures unseasonably cold and Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph’s Prep rowers Joe Leonard and Andrew Burrichter struggling with their boat and treading water in the icy river, Konopka and Mead made a snap decision to give up a promising start that could have landed them in the medals to help get the fellow high school rowers to safety, waiting with them until a safety launch arrived to get the St. Joseph’s pair out of the frigid water.

“They had flipped,” Konopka, a 16-year-old sophomore, said yesterday. “Nick said we should probably go back [to help them] and I agreed, so we turned around.””They were yelling ‘help’ and one of the kids didn’t appear as if he could swim too well,” said Mead, a 16-year-old junior. “The water was cold and I’m sure their limbs were going numb.”

The Nick Mead in question is my nephew; I am sure readers can understand the pride that his family takes in this evidence of a young man’s developing character.  That James and Nick went on to finish the race once the two capsized oarsmen were rescued is another sign that these two young people are off to an excellent start.

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  • jimri

    Bravo to two fine young men. Their parents and school should all be proud.

  • Corlyss

    Well played! A loss with more honor than they would have gotten from ten wins.

  • Derek Footer

    As the parent of two young children, such stories about character hearten me when so much in the news points in the other direction. If we can inculcate the kind of values these young men exemplify in our children, then America will continue to thrive. Cheers to your family!

  • Paul Brinkley

    I definitely understand that pride. Wow. And only 16!

  • Alex Schindler

    A competitive spirit and decency to guide it. The values that will make or break America in the future. Congratulations to your nephew, and brother and sister-in-law, for winning the most important race

  • Martin Berman-Gorvine

    Justifiable pride, Uncle Walt.

  • WigWag

    Bravo Nick and James!

    Long after you have forgotten about how the race ended, you will take justifiable pride in your selfless and brave act.

  • John Burke


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