Flying Through Water

May 18, 2011
There is a rush every time I dive off the block and glide into the water, the same rush as the first time I dove in for a race. The feeling gets more intense as the race continues on. I will never forget the rush I feel every time I ever enter the water and race my heart out, especially in the 50 fly, the quick, yet intense race, which I have always loved: the feelings that rush throughout my body, the speed my body goes, my mental state and emotions I have before, during and after the race. No other time in my life have I yet experienced those feelings, unless I am in the water.

As my event and heat come closer and closer in a swim meet, I put my half-dry-half-wet, chlorine-filled hair into a cap and place my goggles on top of my cap. Going to the warm-up pool, which is not warm at all), I jump in feet first and swim a few laps to loosen my muscles and get familiar with the water’s temperature. After, I get out the pool, four heats before mine. I do a quick dry-off and walk to the racing pool to stand behind my timers and mentally prepare myself, stretching my muscles, and jumping around a bit to get my blood flowing faster. Finally, when the heat before me enters the water for their race, I step up behind the block to do my final stretches, useing the high, cold, diving block to stretch my legs. Then, I slowly situate my goggles over my eyes and get serious. I tell myself, “Good start, kick as fast at you can, push your arms and soar through the water.”

The race before me finally ends. The starting officials clear the pool and quiet the natatorium, the arena where the pools are located for swim meets. The officials blow their whistles once as our signal to step onto the blocks. My body tenses, as if I have seen the most amazing creature on Earth. I wait for one the official to say, “Swimmers take your mark.” At that instant, every swimmer about to compete reaches down and grabs the block in front of him or her in the professional form we’ve been taught. Anxiously, we wait for the bright light followed by a beep to let us know the race has begun.

The starter beeps, and at the blink of an eye, every swimmer is jumping off the block and making his or her way to streamline form, arms one on top the other next to ears, and legs straight behind the body clenched next to one another. I feel the sensation of the water as I enter in stream line. At that very instant, I begin the butterfly kick, my legs in a wave like motion, to get ahead and begin the actual swimming of the race. I kick like that until I reach the top of the water, and I break out of the water by moving my arms and kicking. I kick my legs as I have since I enter the water. My arms move together at the same time at what seems to be lightening speed. Swimming butterfly, my best and favorite stroke, is a challenge, motivating me to do my best. I am good at it, and I know I am. Therefore, I push myself harder and harder as the race continues. I reach the wall for my turn, touch with both hands, pull my legs in to my chest, put one arm out in front of me, and with my hand still on the wall, I throw it over my head duck, into the water, and use my legs to propel myself off the wall. Again, I begin kicking my legs together in a wave-like motion. Out of breath, but not tired enough to slow down, I look around for a split-second to see my competition. No matter where I am in a race, I push myself to swim even harder and faster than earlier in a race. As I get close to the wall to complete my race, I try with every bit of energy left in me to get to that wall, not to beat anyone in the pool, but to beat my time.

I touch the wall right under the water with force because the touch pad must collect my time correctly. Taking my cap and goggles off under the water, I come up for air and hang onto the wall. I take my ponytail out, duck my head in the water to smooth it out, and look up at the score board. First, I look to see my place rank then look at my time. If I drop time, I get out smile and cool down in the warm-up pool. If I do worse than I did prior to my race, I exit the pool angry and walk off to cool down and beat myself up over my time.

Swimming is something that I will always love. I have yet to experience any other event that could cause me to feel the way I do when I compete. It is a special talent I have worked so hard to perfect and I will keep the memories of my races close to me. I think about them when I need motivation. I always felt accomplished I feel after swimming, regardless if I added time or not. I can do something most people cannot and that is a huge accomplishment in itself. Not a sport, nor a chore, nor something I am forced to do to stay in shape, swimming is a talent, a hobby and a passion that contributes to the definition of who I have become. I am like a bird, soaring through water.

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