October 25, 2011
By Anonymous

A sea of green Palatine swimming t-shirts flooded the gymnasium, and tears streamed down my face. I could hear the whimpers from my teammates behind me, trying to grasp the idea that he was really gone. No one knew where to go from here. Our coach, my coach, the one consistent person on the pool deck day in and day out was gone, gone from this earth and gone from my reach.

My swim coach, Andy, passed away my sophomore year of high school. Prior to his passing I had not swum a season without him nearby. He was my club coach, but even during high school season he wasn’t far away from the pool or from me. He was always there as a mentor, motivator, and supporter in all my times as an athlete and a person.

Broken, alone, and cold, I sat shivering on a bench in the pool with a lump in my throat. Attempting to hold back tears, I knew deep inside my next race was going to be just like every other race the past year: terrible. I had not swum a best-time in over a year, and this race wasn’t going to be any different. There was no ray of light in my swimming world and with tears swelling in my eyes and the lump growing larger, I felt useless.

I felt a tap on my shoulder, looked up, and there was Andy. Already being a bad liar, I couldn’t think of something to tell him before the tears streamed down my face. I was broken. My next race, the 200 butterfly, was one of the hardest events at the meet, and my motivation scale was at zero. Understanding my feelings and listening to my doubts, Andy told me to have some confidence in myself. He said, “You can’t go up on the blocks ‘hoping’ to swim well. You have to go up there ‘knowing’ you’re going to swim well, and ‘knowing’ you’re going to swim as fast as you can. Have confidence, get up there and swim your race!” The moment I was truly broken, he was there pushing me to my full potential and making me a stronger person.

Andy saw something I could not see in myself, and that was my comeback. With him now gone, my motivation has to be found through the words that he preached to me before he passed. His absence has made me realize that I have to continue on swimming for myself. More importantly, I have to continue on in life with the confidence to push past my hard times and the confidence to know that light will shine, even during the darkest moments. With new found motivation, I have since qualified for the sectional swim meet every year of high school and am currently the girl’s varsity swim captain.

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