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


   You knew the day was coming: the day of the big race.You've been having butterflies in your stomach and your hands have beentrembling. Two nights ago you carbo-loaded with a low-fat pasta dinner. For thelast two days junk food has been off-limits. There's only been healthful, easilydigestible food. Last night you ate some rice and chicken. Since they'refat-free, they won't slow you down. Did you eat cookies for dessert? Obviouslynot! You had fruit. Nothing was going to get between you and your day ofvictory.

Now that day has arrived. Last night you went to sleep at 9:30,even leaving some homework unfinished. You've been eating, drinking, sleepingswimming for the last two months; somehow schoolwork hasn't been your toppriority. Although you know that the chances of becoming a professional swimmerare slim to none, and schoolwork should be more important, for some reason itwasn't.

All day long you think of nothing but your swim meet. Do teachershonestly expect you to be worrying about William Berkeley and his usage ofpolitical patronage? Don't they know how much this meet means? Don't they realizethe importance of your performance today? Of course not. All they care about isthe difference between accuracy and precision.

Sometimes it feels asthough the other girls don't care either. As you pull on the tight second skin ofa suit in the locker room, you listen to them talking. They're only worried aboutwho likes whom or who's taking whom to homecoming and who's throwing what parties(not that any swimmers go to those parties because we are all under contract).They care about whom they'll be riding around with after practice. They don'tseem to care about swimming, something that you love.

Love? Do youreally love swimming? Although sometimes it takes you a while to get back intothat chlorinated water, once you're in, others have to drag you out. The water isalways so cold at first, like little knives are pricking you all over. But yourarms start to slice through the water like a warm spoon through hard ice creamand your body bobs with every stroke. Then you're warmed up.

Now it's timefor your race. Coach told you not to worry - just swim like you always do. Whatkind of advice is that? How on earth are you supposed not to worry? But when youworry, you swim faster. You have always risen to the occasion. Why should todaybe different? Today there's that sophomore girl who beat you last year insectionals. No big deal. You beat her three times last year. The one time shebeat you was a fluke. You can swim the 200 freestyle in 2:11, while she's onlyswum a 2:12.

You approach the block and the whole pool grows silent. Youhear the announcer say your name. The crowd erupts with cheers and your friendsscream. Then you hear her name. You shudder as you hear that name, and rememberdefeat. You grip the block with you hands and push it and pull with your arms tostretch out your shoulders. The crowd seems to disappear as you hear the officialsay, "Swimmers, step up." You climb up onto the block, look down intothe water and become totally focused.

"Take your mark." Withthe sound of the gun, you're off.

You set the pace; this is your pool andyour race. You're leading the first 25 yards, but off the turn she pulls infront. You think, This can't be happening, but obviously it is. For the nexthundred yards you let her lead. What's the point in pushing yourself? You knowyou'll be able to pass her on the last 50. At least, you hope you'll be ableto.

The last 50 arrive; you're moving your arms like windmills on fastforward, and your legs, well, you're kicking like a sprinter. You're swimminglike mad and it's paying off. You've caught her; you're passing her. There areonly five yards left and if you don't breathe, you'll do it.

You touchedfirst, and you've won! The taste of victory is better than homemadechocolate-chip cookies right from the oven. The smell is better than a summer dayin the wilderness. And the way it makes you feel, well, that isn't comparable toanything. You're truly on top of the world.




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






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback