Just Keep Swimming

December 5, 2011
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Everyone has a talent. That is what I have been told. And with it, you can achieve your greatest dreams, smile a little brighter, reach for the stars.... When I was in the sixth grade, my talent was swimming. But as I stood on that diving block about to take my final decent, not any of those people in my life reminded me of my talent. My parents, teachers, or even that eager kindergarten girl who looked up at the Hillsboro Swim Team sign hanging from the ceiling in awe were not there for me when I needed them most.

Flashback to my first swim team competition: the stands at the rec center were overflowing with parents and family. I waited patiently in line, taking anxious glances back at my mom. She was the one who really made it possible; it was not me who was working at a local casino, cleaning out ashtrays with the other swim team parents trying to cover the expenses. I was just enjoying the benefits, but I wanted to make her proud.

Before my feelings began to sink in, the announcer spoke and I got myself on the diving block. With my head bent down, I was able to see my worried face in the bleached water.

"Are you ready" I thought to it, "Are you rea..."

"Boop!"

I plunged myself into the water and began swimming feverishly.

"One, two, three, breathe. One, two, three, breathe."

I made it to the end of the pool at what I thought was a great time, possibly my best time yet, but when I flipped myself around to finish three more laps, I could see through my fogged-up goggles that I was far behind the rest of the pack. And then, something snapped.

In a hopeless gesture to catch up, I flailed my arms around while my goggles filled up with tears

"Just keep swimming."

I kicked my feet as hard as I could, but they were like wet-down butterfly wings trying to flutter.

"Just keep swimming."

Lifting my head up to gasp for air, the other end of the pool seemed so far away, so far away that I felt like staying where I was and drowning instead.

"Just keep swimming."

But slowly, I kept going forward, and by the time I reached the end of the pool where I had started, ending my second lap, the other swimmers were just about to finish their last. I felt the whole crowd staring at the terrible swimmer, the failure. Heaving my body out of the water, I ran back to the locker rooms, never looking back at the pool and never looking back at my mom. Because, the simple truth was, I always came in dead last, dead last in everything I did.


Everyone has a talent. I once thought mine was swimming. But swimming was never a talent; it was an obligation to myself, an obligation that I wasn’t even happy with. The idea that I needed to excel in athletics overlooked my true talents. Later on, I discovered choir and literature and found that these were where my talents lie. Talent is not a place or ranking. Talent is simply that feeling of winning and the feeling of pride. Whenever I sing or whenever I write, I feel accomplished. I smile a little brighter. And no longer to I need to tell myself to keep swimming, because I already do.





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