The Steadfast Determination of Swimming Prodigy Michael Andrew
Michael Andrew is a seventeen-year-old with a God-given gift for swimming. He has broken more National Age Group Records than any other US swimmer, including Michael Phelps. Although he missed qualifying for the Rio Olympic team by .64 seconds, he did set the World Junior Record in the 100 meter Breaststroke. “Now’s just not my time,” Michael Andrew told reporters with a smile on his face, just moments after his Olympic trials came to a close. What gives him this peace and steadfast determination?
There is an incredible confidence that comes from knowing that God is in control, and Michael Andrew explains to reporters before the trials that he cannot do anything on his own strength, and whatever God has planned is what will be. “I told God before the race, ‘You know what, I just want to race,’ and whatever He has planned for me, He has planned for me.”
There are a few things that make Michael Andrew’s experience unique, allowing him to swim to the best of his ability with steadfast determination, and to have his identity in Christ speak loudest in his life.
Michael’s family have encouraged him, not just in his swimming, but in Christ. Being raised knowing his creator is a perspective that informs everything he does and gives him the steadfast determination he needs to swim his best every day. When a big decision needs to be made, like the family’s decision to have Michael turn pro at the age of 14, they pray and ask God what they should do.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Knowing His Gift
Michael has a gift for swimming, and a gift is a weighty thing. When you know who you are apart from Christ, that you cannot do anything on your own strength, you know that your abilities are from God, and that they come with responsibility to steward them well. Michael sees that his swimming is mean for something more. “It’s not about me. It is not about swimming. It is about the ability I’ve been blessed with and the circumstances I’ve been blessed with. I’ve been blessed to able to do what I love, to hone my talents in a fun and loving environment while pursuing excellence and giving all the glory to God.”
Michael isn’t alone in his giftedness, everyone has gifts that God has given for His purposes. We may not all be athletic prodigies, but it’s important that all kids come to understand what it is that God has given them, and feel the sense of responsibility to steward those abilities well with steadfast determination.
Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverbs 16:3
Coach Dad, Peter Andrew, is a former high-level swimmer and Navy diver from South Africa, and he is able to train his son in the ways that he believes are best for his son and his family. “Michael has massive, massive abilities, but he’s gotta be enjoying it, or else we’re not going to do it anymore,” Peter said. “Sometimes with Michael, I find myself getting frustrated because he’s not making a time that I want him to be making, like any coach would, and I have to catch myself, because my relationship with him as a son is what’s most important.”
In their own 2-lane backyard training facility in Lawrence, Kansas, they use a special type of science-based training called Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT), developed Dr. Brent Rushall. The basic principle is that when you swim a lot of yards, you’re actually training a different muscle, which is not the fast twitch muscle used for swimming at high speeds. By maximizing race pace training in daily workouts, they are able to develop those fast-twitch neurological connections. This method is highly controversial in the larger swimming community, but by training his own son at home, Peter Andrew is able to explore what he believes works best for his family, and the result is that Michael Andrew only needs to train for two hours each day, allowing him to participate in other activities, like football and flying his drone.
Another way that Michael benefits from having his training tailored to him is that he can play Christian music through the speakers installed in the training facility, and the family can decorate with motivational quotes and bible verses to inspire steadfast determination. Michael Andrew is constantly surrounded by reminders of his true identity as God’s child.
The Andrew family doesn’t just like to pave their own way in choosing training techniques, they like to make their own path in life in general. “Why do we just take things, like, ‘This is the way it should be, because this is the way it’s been done all along?’” Michael’s mother Tina Andrew asks, “I’m at the point where we’re just challenging everything.” Choosing to homeschool their children is a part of their steadfast determination to find their own way to live their life. Michael and his younger sister take their homeschool classes through an online program by a Christian University.
Like Michael Andrew, each student has a calling from God that requires steadfast determination and the power and peace of God to pursue. Enlightium Academy is an accredited Pre-K–12 online Christian school that equips students to become Christian leaders who trust in God’s plan while allowing them to work at their own pace through an individualized curriculum on a flexible schedule with one-on-one teacher support.