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Butterfly

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I step up onto the stand and observe my opponents. I am a head smaller than the shortest of my opponents. All of their heads have either constricting swim caps or their heads have been shaved clean. Some of them have full body swim suits on. Others are wearing suits that go down to their ankles. One or two of them are wearing Speedos. I laugh quietly to myself.

Then I examine myself. I have long hair that makes the top of my head look like a scruffy street dog. My jammer, a competition swim suit that goes down to the knees, is almost loose enough to be a regular swim suit, also known as a drag suit. I am borrowing my little sisters goggles, which are made of an elastic string material, that has slack that sticks out at least a half a foot from the back of my head.

Then the announcer proclaims: “swimmer’s, take your mark.” I bend over and grab the starting block, getting into starting position. I fell strange because I’m the only one that gets into the position at this point. I’m even more worried I am incorrect because the majority of my opponents probably swim year round and know exactly what to do and how to do it. And after what seems like a year, even though it hasn’t even been two seconds, the other swimmers get into starting position as well. I clear my mind and wait for that sound.

Beep! I throw myself as quickly and as powerfully off the block as I could with my arms. Once my arms are fully outstretched and have entered dive position, I begin to thrust with my legs. Unfortunately, something goes wrong. My legs slip halfway through take-off, and I clumsily submerge into the water.

I know I was behind the rest of the swimmers and that I had to make up for lost time. I swim as powerfully as I can, as if I would push off the water like it was a solid substance. I pay no attention to my opponents. This is my last chance to beat my personal best butterfly stroke time. It’s not about them, it’s about me.

The majority of the actual race is still a blur to me. It went by to fast to remember. I do remember seeing my friend cheering me on as if I was in a close race for first, which naturally made me swim even more frantically due to the idea of me actually winning the 50 yard butterfly at the conference meet. I flail my arms and legs as coordinated and as fast as I could, racing for the finish.

The finish is in sight. I take three more mighty strokes. I extend my arms and slam my palms against the timer hidden to the fans that can’t see the underside of the water. As I begin to pull myself out of the water I regained awareness of my surroundings. There are still four people swimming. I’m glad I didn’t finish in last. Unfortunately, three people have already completed the race.

Then I look up at my time. 29 seconds! Not necessarily a Michael Phelps time, but it was fast enough for me. I am satisfied with the results. I was younger, smaller and less experienced than the majority of my opponents, and I landed myself in fourth place. I know that I have done well. I also know that next year I’ll do better. I’ll have the advantages they had. I’ll be bigger, older, and next year I won’t slip.





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