Determination

As rain pounded the hood of the car, I struggled to focus on the road. For now, I was driving. Swishing down the windows, water was everywhere. It splashed the windshield as fast and hard as it patters down when the fat kid does a belly-flop in the pool: the pool where I was headed.


“I am driving,” I whispered aloud, as if hearing it would make me believe. I was on my way to the pool, the same pool I practiced in twice daily, except this time for a meet. Although not a big meet, it was mine, my last chance to make state.


“Good morning!” my coach boomed at me, “Time for warm-up!” I clamored into the pool ready for the impending marathon. I felt like Dory from Finding Nemo as I chanted to keep myself focused, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming!” Other thoughts were weaving themselves into my chant, mostly encouraging ones. I thought of all the hours I practiced. I remembered every stroke correctly done. I was prepared. This meet was mine.



As warm-up concluded, my coach pulled me aside. Apparently, the worry lines etching themselves in my forehead gave away my nervousness. “Get in the warm-down pool. Don’t leave until I send someone over. Don’t think, just do it, and do it well. I believe in you,” he barked at me before turning to his next victim. After regurgitating my breakfast it into the nearest trashcan, I listened. When my teammate pulled me unceremoniously from the water, I followed her behind the lanes. This was my time to shine.



To tell the truth, I don’t remember much of this race. The pain, however, seems to be an exception. Somewhere in the race every single fiber of my being screamed. The 200 fly is a race few attempt, and here I was doing my best to slaughter it. As my arms shot over water, I felt like the female version of Michael Phelps. At every wall I felt like I felt like i was jumping as high as an NBA player, and jumps like that hurt.


Then there was the finish. As I slammed my hands into the wall, my shoulders had enough feeling left to shoot pain up into my skull. As I gasped for air, I heard noise. I couldn’t say what it meant, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe. For the second time that day I was yanked out of the water. Unsure of what was happening, I looked for a friend in the surrounding mass.


“You did it! You made the cut!” someone yelled.


Walking away from that event, every ounce of pain was rewarded with a pound of joy. Not only had I achieved my goal that was two years in the making, but I had proven to myself that with enough determination I can do anything. I have never felt as happy or as proud of myself as I did that day.





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