Ryan's Race

December 17, 2009
By
Ryan shivered as he crept out of the warm heat of the car into the frigid air of the cold morning. He was very eager as he walked down to the pool, because the championship swim meet was one week away. Ryan was particularly excited because he was going to work on improving his individual medley (IM) during swim practice, which was his favorite event. Ryan yelled to his coach, “Hey Charles! Do you think you could help me improve my turn from backstroke to breaststroke in the IM? I’m really having difficulty with it.”

“Yeah, I was planning on working on that turn with the group, because I noticed several of you guys having problems with it.”

“Okay!”

Ryan flew through the water with anticipation throughout the entire practice until his coach said it was time to work on the IM turn. Charles introduced a new type of turn that he said was difficult to do, however if it is done successfully, it can drop a significant amount of time off of the IM. Charles tried to explain the turn as best he could, but none of the swimmers understood what he was trying to say. Charles decided it would be advantageous to change into his suit and demonstrate the turn himself for the rest of the group to see.

Charles entered into the cold water and demonstrated the turn once. All the swimmers were impressed, including Ryan, who couldn’t believe what he just witnessed, as it looked like a move only a trained martial artist could perform. Charles demonstrated again, slowly this time, so the swimmers could see the steps involved in completing the turn. Next Charles had all the swimmers practice doing back flips in the water, one of the trickiest parts in successfully doing the turn. After most of the swimmers mastered the back flip, he had each anxious swimmer try the turn one by one.

Mary was the first to go. She swam to the wall, hit it, and flipped sideways instead of upside-down. “Oops… better luck next time,” said Charles. Zack was next. He swam in and did the turn quite well, except it was done in slow motion. “Keep trying,” Charles encouraged. “You’ll get it soon.”
Chris went third and completed the turn like he could do it in his sleep! Charles and the rest of the swimmers were extremely impressed. Ryan was last to go and he became incredibly nervous because Chris had just impressed everyone. Ryan swam towards the wall, miscounted his strokes, and bang! His head smacked into the wall. The rest of the swimmers chuckled and Ryan turned red with embarrassment.

Mary, Zack, and Ryan tried several more times with no success. Charles was about to give up but said everybody could have one more try. Mary and Zack had the same difficulty and simply couldn’t flip fast enough. It was Ryan’s last chance to complete the turn accurately and impress the rest of the swimmers. Ryan swam in as fast as a speeding bullet, counted his strokes (correctly this time), flung his head back with the force of a hammer hitting a nail head, performed the back flip perfectly at top speed, and was propelling off the wall before you could blink your eyes. Charles was stunned at his triumph and Ryan was especially proud of himself. With championships only a week away, Ryan felt confident to achieve excellence swimming his IM.

The championship meet had arrived at last. Ryan’s teammates were excited to watch him perform his newly learned IM turn at the big stage. Ryan was the next heat to swim, and his confidence started to dwindle while his nerves were steadily increasing. Ryan stepped up onto the block, his legs shaking, and his heart racing.

“Take your mark,” announced the starter. “Beep!” The race had begun and Ryan dove into the water starting his butterfly stroke. He was trailing behind the leader after the first lap as he started his backstroke. As he approached the wall, he was gaining on the leader. Ryan hit the wall, executed his flip turn perfectly, and overtook the leader as he started his breaststroke. He continued swimming strong, touched the wall, and turned to the final stroke, freestyle, barely ahead of the person next to him. He sprinted his way down the pool and finished the race just out-touching the swimmer next to him. Ryan’s teammates roared with enthusiasm as he dashed over to Charles to thank him for his success.





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