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One Swim, One Girl, One State Cut
One day, my whole life changed. On this day, I was not just another ten-year-old swimmer. I was *Jamie Lawrence: Gabe’s little sister who’s got wicked butterfly.
It was the summer of 2007 and I was swimming at regionals. Everything was perfect: I was doing what I loved and having fun with my friends. I didn’t even notice the stifling heat of the Silverlake Natatorium in Northern Kentucky because I was so focused on swimming.
Everything that I had been working for that season all came down to this meet. Since I had worked my butt off all season, I swam faster than I had my whole life. Although, there was one event that I had been dreading: the 100 butterfly. I hadn’t swum it in two years and I just about died that time.
Butterfly is an exhausting stroke to swim – just ask any swimmer. To be a flyer, you have to have strong shoulders and a lot of abdominal muscles. You also need to be tough and determined. When you swim butterfly, you cannot give up. You cannot slack and you definitely cannot be a sore loser.
Here comes the moment I had been scared about. I walked up to the starting block with trembling legs and butterflies in my stomach. I saw my friends, at the other end of the pool, waiting for my event to start. I prayed to God for strength and I asked Him to just help me survive this swim.
I must have been shaking like crazy because I heard the timer ask, “Are you nervous?”
“Just a little. I haven’t swum this in about two years and I’ve never swam it in a long course pool,” I replied.
“Don’t worry, you’ll do great. Just do your best. In fact, I think you’ll get the state cut.”
“What? That’s crazy! I have to be at least a minute off.”
“Not quite. You have a time of 2.12:08. The state time is 1.40:32.”
“I’m still way off. I won’t get it.”
“You never know. Good luck!”
This timer is really optimistic, I thought.
“Heat two,” the official announced.
Oh gosh, this is my heat. Well, here goes nothing.
“Take your mark.” BEEP!
At that moment, everything in my mind was cleared out except for swimming. I dove in to the pool with an adrenaline rush. As soon as I surfaced, I swung my arms like never before. I was careful not to waste all my energy. As I was fighting my battle through the water, I realized that this was a lot easier than two years ago. Although it was easy, it was still exhausting. I started to get tired but I thought, No. I’m not giving up. I decided, right there in the pool, that I would never, ever be scared of another event.
After turning to my second lap and seeing all my friends cheering for me, I kicked it up a notch. As tired and beat up as I was, no way was I going to back down. I’ve gone this far, I’m going to finish what I started – especially because it comes so natural to me. I reached the half point mark and I swam like there was no tomorrow. My only goal was to reach the wall and be proud. I didn’t care if I lost or if I added a ton of time. All I cared about was that I had done my best.
I finally reached the touchpad and looked around. No one else was at the wall. I thought, Did I really do that bad? Is everyone already out of the pool? I looked at the scoreboard and saw my place: 1st. That didn’t make sense, unless… I looked behind me and everyone was still finishing up! I whipped my head around to look at my time and then I blinked. I looked again… same thing: 1.35:38. My jaw dropped open and I just couldn’t think.
“I told you that you would get it.”
I looked up to see the timer smiling down at me. I grinned back at him and he pulled me out of the pool. I looked around and saw my coach’s face filled with pride. I saw my mom’s friend, Mrs. Morrison, screaming on the phone, talking to my mom. The last thing I saw was my friends’ faces: jaws dropped open and then jumping up on down with happiness. This, I realized, was just the beginning of my swimming career.