She has scars on her fingers from hitting the lane lines every day. Maybe this would not happen if she did not swim with her eyes shut, but sometimes it just gets so tiring, so repetitive. It feels as if she could do it in her sleep. She is an athlete. She has experienced pain, a lot of pain. The kind of pain no football player or baseball player ever has, the pain of not being able to breathe, while surrounded with air, because she just can't get it in fast enough; or being so hot that her body is completely red, even though she is swimming in 75 degree water. The pain that makes you wonder why she would ever lay eyes on a pool again.
She has experienced dedication. Over four hours of swimming in two practices every day of summer, six a.m. practices before school and boring weekends which she uses to regain the sleep she missed during the week.
She has befriended commitment. Setting her sights on a goal and most importantly, keeping them there. Coming to every practice. And just when it feels as if she might sink to the bottom of the pool, she takes another stroke, and another, and keeps on going.
She has sustained pressure. After all she puts it on herself, no one else does. She is familiar with how long a hundredth of a second is, and respects that consequential time interval.
But with all this knowledge, she knows something more important than all - victory. And she knows it well, because she deserves it. And that is the reason why she keeps coming back for more. Because she knows victory, and wants to keep it that way. l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.