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My Life in the Pool This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Giggling hysterically while blowing bubbles in the shallow end of a YMCA pool during my swimming lessons is one of my most distinct memories as a child. I excelled in this activity, along with my stroke technique, and I was excited to learn that I would soon become a ‘Jellyfish,’ and move to the second level of lessons. My natural affinity for the water eventually led me to join the swim team that became one of the greatest influences on the development of my personal characteristics. Swimming insane amounts of laps in a pool would not be the first thing that most people describe as a fundamental influence on their personality, but the values of perseverance and mental strength that I absorbed from being a part of my team has lead me to become the person I am today. Who knew that I would become the complex individual I am now, as a result of my bubble-blowing skills as a three-year-old.

I was addicted to swim team after the first summer morning when I eagerly cannon-balled into the ice cold water of my neighborhood pool. Tingling with a mix of excitement and nervousness, my long hair scrunched into a hot pink silicone cap and my eyes almost turning purple from the tight straps of my goggles, I can still remember how much I enjoyed that first day of practice. The 45 minutes of laps went by in a flash. I kicked my legs until they felt like they would fall off, trying to make the water boil in white foam around my feet. I pulled at the water as hard as my little muscles would let me, and fantasized about my arms making tsunami waves as they hit the surface. Being only six years old, my technique was still developing, but I enjoyed every second of my time in the water. After completing the cool-down, my skinny arms shook as I struggled to pull myself out of the water onto the side of the pool. I scurried over to my mom to share my excitement with her. I was surrounded in warmth as she bundled me in my towel, and I began to ramble on about how amazing my first day turned out to be. That successful morning left me beaming with pride, and I could not wait until the next day to start all over again.

From my first practice onward, I have always benefited from being a part of swim team. When I reflect on the strengths of my current personal characteristics, I can clearly see how the influence of swimming has shaped me. Learning to take direction and implementing the advice given by my swim coaches has instilled in me discipline, and this has given me a major advantage in accomplishing goals in daily life, in and out of the pool. I am frequently asked why in the world I would ever choose to attend 4:30 A.M. practices five times a week, but I actually enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get from it, and I appreciate how waking up that early every morning and motivating myself out of bed has taught me determination. I have come to know the rewards of hard work, even if it’s just dropping .5 seconds in a 100 backstroke. I realize how cutting corners on tasks will only hurt me in the long run, a lesson that I am also able to apply to my schoolwork. My work ethic was learned the hard way, after repetitively being punished with 200 yard butterflies for pretending to have severe foot cramps and skipping out on laps during practice. Although I did not appreciate this punishment at the time, due to the intense muscle aches I experienced, I did eventually catch on to what my coach was trying to teach me, and I came to learn the importance of perseverance and mental strength. I have been molded tremendously from the direction given to me through swimming, and I am still being influenced by the sport every day.

Throughout my lifetime of swimming, I have absorbed every aspect of direction that this sport has given me, and the priceless influences I received from my team have shaped the persona I now own. The majority of my individual complexities are a direct result of the values I have learned to cherish from participating in swimming. I have been leading the life of a human fish, being shaped by the pool ever since my first splash in that chlorinated water. My experiences on the swim team have touched every aspect of my life, making me into the interesting, unique individual I am today.



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WickedStarcatcher said...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Awesome job on this piece! I'm a swimmer as well-and none of my friends understand why I love the 6 a.m. 4 hour practices !!!! :) Swimming has really impacted my character traits and life as well. I've been taught to swim eevery lap-even when I'm the last one in the pool. Once my coach yelled at my group during a Fly set-"I don't care if your arms fall off! Put them back on and keep swimming!" I like the way you described your learning experience as well as the first few moments that cha... (more »)

 
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 9, 2009 at 5:45 pm
I took swimming lessons at the YMCA too!
This was a very good piece. You had great descriptions about that first time you practiced swimming.
 
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