Sink or Swim This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The sound of people screaming makes my stomach churn with nausea. My body shakes at the thought of stepping onto the block overlooking the water. I'm tempted to hide in my warm towel, but instead I stare at the blue lines at the bottom of the pool while my heart beats violently. The humid air leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, and I feel lightheaded. I focus on my sparkly blue nail polish to calm my nerves. The whistle pounds my eardrums. A flash of light pierces the side of my eye as I leap into the water.

Many have a chance to pursue their dreams and feel a sense of accomplishment at least once in their lives. Of course, you have to start at the bottom to make it to the top. I never thought that a sport I began at age 12 would continue into the rest of my life.

The first day I arrived at the pool, the chlorine stung my nose. I was nervous. I had no swimming experience. When I tried out, I was tired after 50 meters. I knew it hadn't gone well, but I really wanted to swim. So I took lessons, and when I tried out again, I made the team.

On that first day, I definitely felt like I didn't belong. My coach comforted me, but the other kids acted like I had just been dropped off by an alien spaceship. I felt very uncomfortable. At times I wanted to quit, but I kept going.

Before I knew it, I was the leader of my lane. My coach said that I learned fast, but I didn't believe it. I had moved up two lanes in eight months, compared to other swimmers who had been competing for years and never moved up. After many meets and months of practice, my efforts finally paid off.

As I flip underwater the adrenaline puts a force on my body that I didn't know I had. My legs burn until the last stroke when I hit the wall perfectly. When I notice that I am the only one at the wall, my heart races in confusion. I look at the scoreboard and my heart leaps out of my throat. There is a one next to my name, and I have beaten my best time by over 12 seconds!

I understand that there will be meets where I smile, and some where I cry. But that's what sports are all about. I have improved, and that's all I could ask for. Whenever I think of swimming, I feel such accomplishment.

Honestly, I never thought I could make it this far. It took determination, but I'm glad I gave it my all. I feel more passionate about swimming than anything else right now. I have found my talent. Not only that, but I love it. All I had to do was believe in myself. I know now that anyone can make it to the top of their dream mountain, they just have to try.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Swim4Him24 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm
I love this article so much! Go Swim! :D One of my swim friends dropped 9 seconds on one of her events at the last meet of the season. When the coach asked her how she managed to drop so much time, she replied that the water was so cold all she wanted to do was get the race over with and get warm. That's just a story that makes me smile:) Good job with that event and with this article!
 
AnInkling said...
Sept. 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm
It is so cool to find another swimmer! I also did not start competitive swimming until I was 13 (I did summer two years before), and now I am pretty fast. I just thought I might want to encourage you by saying that I know a girl who swam an 11 minute 500 Fr. when she started swimming and two years later she competed at the Olympic trials and junior national! Just keep swimming ;) And you might be interested in a poem I wrote about swimming, if you have the time.
 
Specialk13k said...
Oct. 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm
I read this in the magazine and fell in love with it immediately! I've been a competitive swimmer for 6 years, since 3rd grade, and saw so many parallels to my experience in the sport. It was great encouragement, and jus wanted to let you know that I totally get where you're coming from. Good luck in swimming! <3
 
Babyblue replied...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Omg thank you so much! :) Go swimmers!
 
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