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Fifty Meters & Fourteen Thousand Thoughts
“On your mark, get set...” the loudspeaker announces. I’m on the starting block, waiting for the signal to tell me to begin the race.
It’s a small race – only fifty meters, but I’m nervous anyway.
I am stronger than my competitors, but I’m anxious none the less.
Family and friends are watching in the crowd. I smile at them, but I’m still jittery.
I think about receiving the gold medal, but I become even more uneasy.
I imagine being in the pool, gliding farther and farther with each stroke. I see myself moving swiftly in the water, each kick bringing me closer to victory. I picture the medal around my neck. I daydream about standing on the podium, everybody watching me in my few minutes of fame.
“What if I don’t win?” I think, horrified.
I begin to wonder what it’ll be like if I don’t win. I try to picture myself, being the last one left in the pool. I’d get out, nobody would clap and I’d disappear into the crowd unnoticed. If I lost there’d be no medal. If I lost, I wouldn’t stand on the podium proudly. If I lost-
My thoughts are interrupted when I realize that the race has begun without me.
I hurry into the water, but mess up my dive.
My goggles stay on, but they fill with water.
I open my eyes, but my vision is blurry.
I achieve the perfect flip turn, but I run out of breath.
I look up as I gasp for air … but I shouldn’t have.
I find out that I have lost the race, but there’s still one lap left.
I think about finishing the competition. “Why should I bother?” I ask myself for a second. I want to give up, but something’s pulling at me to continue. So I let the water out of my goggles, fill my lungs with air and swim recklessly.
I find myself smiling. Never in my life, had I enjoyed swimming more than now.
My hand hits the wall and it becomes official – I have finished last. Still, I hop out of the pool with a smile on my face. To my surprise, my teammates are waiting for me. They give me high-fives, hugs and thumbs-up. They don’t care that I have lost. Neither do I.
I watch the winner receive her medal on the podium, but I do not envy her.
I lost, but I gained more than she did.
She thinks that winning is everything, but I know better.