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9-Year-Old Swim Champ Donates Trophy to Sick Rival

Josh Zuchowski

Josh Zuchowski

You’d think a 9-year-old swim champ would proudly — and rightfully — want to display his winning hardware for all to see. It’s one thing for every kid who participates to get a trophy. It’s a whole other thing to actually earn your trophy by winning.

Joshua Zuchowski, 9, from Jupiter, Fla., is one of the best swimmers in his state, according to local news channel, WPBF. That’s no small feat considering how many kids in the Sunshine State have access to pools, making the field arguably more competitive than in most other states.

He’s part of the Jupiter Dragons team and took first place last weekend in a big tournament. The win, however, was a bit diminished in his eyes. That’s because one of his biggest rivals, Reese Branzell, 10, of the Lake Lytal Lightning team, was lying in a hospital bed with a “mysterious bone infection” that has rendered him unable to swim for the past month.

“I miss Josh and I miss all the friends on my team,” Reese, told WPBF. “Being at the hospital was very hard. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of stuff, and I wish everything could go away and I could get back in the pool.”

After his big win on Saturday, Josh let Reese know that he misses him, too. He sent him his freshly won trophy along with a note that read:

Reese,
I am so sorry that you have not been feeling well. Get well soon. So we can get back to battling in the pool. I have looked up to you since I was seven. I would rather get second with you at the meet then win with you absent. I won this trophy for you today. I hope to see you back in the pool.
Your friend,
Josh
Jupiter Dragons

Josh credits his parents for teaching to “to be a good sport.”

I credit his parents, too, for reminding me that I need to be continually teaching my kids what it means to have empathy, and how winning really and truly isn’t everything. There’s no question that it feels good to come out on top, but to be the victor with grace and generosity of spirit takes more than muscle conditioning. It takes a kind soul — and in the end, you have a better chance at succeeding in life and being happy with one of those rather than all of the trophies in the world.

Screen shot via WPBF

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Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the op-ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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