The Swim-Off

October 23, 2017
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         The Idlewild Swimming Pool was a fabulous, decorative that is located in a lushful park that sat barely a mile out from the city of Reno. The pool had the standard 25 yard by 50 meter length, had 9 lanes to swim in, a deck that surrounds the pool, grass that bordered the north and east sides of the deck. In the northeastern side of the pool  is where the DACA tents are set up. where my whole team relaxed. This place was also held the rarest event that can ever happen to a swimmer.

In a swim meet in Reno, there I at the locker rooms, waiting for my event, the 100 meter freestyle, to be posted. Excitement sparked when I saw the sheet be posted on the mirror of the sink. the instant I looked at the results for prelims for the 100 meter freestyle, a wave of unidentifiable emotions came crashing over me like a tsunami. The most identifiable emotions were anxiety and wonder. The fact that there is asterisk above my name and this other kid from another swim club is something new to me. My eye floated to the bottom of the sheet, where the asterisk is defined as “Swim-Off”. The first thought that arrived in my head was “Can I not do this?”

The news spread relatively quick, for both swimmers and coaches both learned about two boys in the 100 free who has the exact same prelim time. I overheard a swimmer’s mom explaining to his son
          “A Swim Off is when multiple swimmers achieve the same time and the meet pauses to let those swimmers race against each other in order to achieve a new time.” When I heard that, based off the comparison between my opponent’s entry time  and my entry time is faster, the probability of being the victor in this “Swim-Off” seems slim.


“Eric, you have a zero percent chance of winning this. You still have time to scratch this event. SCRATCH IT AND LET HIM WIN AUTOMATICALLY” Screamed one side of my brain.


“ Eric,” said the other side of my head, “you have to fight. Maybe there is a chance that you can beat that kid.”
Just then, my roommate asked me to go to the tents. Apparently, some people in my team wanted to know who the were going to cheer for during the Swim-Off.  When they asked me if my name was Eric Ju,relieved that my  the Swim-Off seems like a marvelous chance to be known for something; to leave a legacy in everybody’s memory about the boy who had to swim-off. The idea seemed worth trying.


The swim-off started to be less than 5 events away: it seemed like the Swim-Off should be happening pretty soon. The amount of events between the present to the Swim-Off slowly decreased. Before you can blink once. I was already behind the starting blocks in lane 4 in my black and green jammers on my legs, a white DACA cap that proudly shows the club that   represent, and the classic black goggles on my eyes, tightly held back.   My compactor, Mike Johnson, in the lane right next to me.    


I was going over my race plan for the thousandths time at this point, when Mike turned to me, stretched his arm out towards me to signal a handshake, and said “Good Luck!!”. I shook his hand back.


The long whistle blew, and the competitors stood up on their respective blocks. On the other side of the 50 meters stood my whole team, who will hopefully be cheering for me. To the left, the coaches from my club and my opponent’s club were watching in excitement already. The announcer proclaimed “Take you mark” We bent down and grasped the edge of the block.


For a second, there was peace and quiet; all movement seemed to stop and the air seemed to stay still for that one second, and everyone was looking at the two boys who are going to swim. The loudspeaker let a honk, and in a split-second, we were in the pool, and everyone is screaming their heads off, cheering for their respective team.

 

The drill sergeant came into my head just repeatedly screamed “YOU MUST OUT DOLPHIN KICK MIKE!” I glanced over to the left, and Mike was having a hard time keeping up with me. I was about to slow down, but my mind reminded me that Mike’s seed time is 2 seconds faster. “Logic” my brain said.


After 48 meters, the first lap of pain came to a close, and at this point, the cheering was enough to break anybody’s eardrums. I flipped on the 50 meter mark, looking at my teammates (who stopped for a brief moment to see me out-flip Mike) with my roommates from my hotel room were just making sounds that sounded like a dying donkey.


At this point, my legs were tired, and the side of my head that was tempting me to give up was begging me to stop on the laneline. The drill sergeant kept repeating a phrase from Hamilton that “History has its eyes on you”.  My body was reluctant, but it pushed forward with power as I thought about all the people that were looking at me. I remembered that this was my opportunity to leave a legacy in everyone’s mind.

 

Unfortunately, I was to cocky to realize Mike already passed me by a centimeter ( which is A LOT in swimming) and considering the fact that I had already burned out the bucket-full of granola bars I had eaten earlier, The chances of me winning was falling as suddenly as the stock market crashing in 1929. But, my mind controled by “History has its eyes on you” and just kept receiving courage from it. Unexpectedly, I slowly creeped up to Mike millimeter at a time.


The flags approached as the whole pool was still filled with the sound of the mix of “GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “SWIM!!!!!”. If it was not an instinct, it would probably be natural for me to be swimming all the glucose out of me (a joke I use to say I swam REALLY hard). Determination swept quickly in my body as the last 10 meters were.
At this point, if I was controled by the thoughts of giving up, I would have just burst into tears at that instant, and just walked home from Nevada to the Silicon Valley. Rather, I just had the thought of “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh...” when I looked at the time.


Mike turned towards towards me again with his hand out and said
“You are really a fast swimmer!”


“Thanks” came out of my mouth. It was said with real gratitude.


When this opportunity is looked back upon today, people tell me that it was a very lucky event for me to participate. Honestly, if I just gave up, and scratched the event, this could not have happen. I feel like that this opportunity would not have happened if I scratched. Over all, when I look back on this, it stirs up competitiveness, courage, and that in indecisive situations, we should always stay strong and never back down.






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