Eat My Bubbles!

By
Please don’t kill me I thought when I looked up and saw those piercing brown eyes and eternal frown looking down at me. My heart was in my stomach, tears were welling up in my eyes, but I didn’t know what else to do. This was my last resort, my big decision. I didn’t want to do it, but I did.
I took a deep breath and said very timidly, “I don’t think I can swim the 200.” I then winced, expecting the blow any second. Just waiting for him to…do nothing? He wasn’t saying anything. I looked up. That’s when it came.

“You are my only point-scoring ‘200-er’,” Coach said (he was surprisingly calm), “but since you have a hurt arm, I guess I can let this slide. Why don’t you have your ice on?!?!”

“It’s cold,” I said defiantly as I put my bag of ice back on my elbow.

“That’s why it’s called ‘ice’,” duh. My other coach walked with Megan and me back to our team’s area.

“So, exactly what did happen to your elbow?” she asked.

“Someone landed on it in gym class. I had my arm out of the water, and they were jumping out to catch a ball. They landed on it and it smashed into the ground,” I recited like a little kid at a spelling bee. She gave me a grave look, like she was asking “How could you have let this happen right before the big meet?!?!” I walked away toward the heat sheet on the wall and looked at my name typed under lane three of the 200 freestyle. I mentally crossed it out with a bright red pen. I could feel tears in my eyes again. (Who wouldn’t after dropping out of their favorite event?) At first I tried blinking them away, but after a few blinks, I gave up and sat in the corner, waiting for them to run their course. Megan came and sat next to me. For some odd reason, this brought more tears, and I looked away. At that exact moment, I heard the announcer over the loudspeaker. His exact words still ring clearly in my ears.
“200 freestyle…Heat 3…Lane 3…Becca Marsnik.” My heart immediately sank farther than my stomach. I never wanted to get up again. My favorite event was going on and I was sitting out because of a stupid hurt elbow. For a second, I wanted so bad to go running up to my lane and yell, “I’M HERE! I’M SWIMMING! I’LL DO IT!” But for some reason my feet wouldn’t move. My mind was racing over to swim, but my body refused. I walked out from the corner to catch everyone diving off the blocks, and seeing my lane, empty, waves rippling through it, mad me feel so heartbroken.

Megan came over to me again, this time, I welcomed her presence, greeting her with a quick “hey.” She knew I was feeling bad. I don’t think she totally understood, though. No one, no matter how hard they tried, totally understood.
My next event was coming up. I wasn’t dropping out of this one. No matter how much I detest butterfly, I would not go through that awfulness of the 200 again. I went up behind my lane, after a good pep talk with both my coaches, and looked at the water. I thought about just turning around right there and not doing it. I thought about just telling Coach that my elbow hurt too badly. My elbow did hurt, but I was going to tough it out. The second heat was finishing; I was up. It was my turn to shine. It was my turn to show everyone what I, Rebecca Catherine Marsnik, was truly made of. I stepped up on the block.

My arms and legs were shaking. I grabbed the block and in a split seconds time I was off, underwater and dolphin kicking to no end. I came up above the water, gasping for air, but I kept my head down; I knew breathing right away wouldn’t help my situation any more. My arms came out of the water simultaneously. My elbow was killing me. Trying to keep my mind off of it, I looked down at the end of the pool for the split second while I breathed. Both of my coaches and Megan were down there, cheering me on. I smiled. There is no better feeling than seeing someone cheering you on, even if you can’t hear them because of your heart pummeling in your ears like an insanely loud rock concert. As I reached the end of the pool, Megan got down and screamed “GO BECCA!” right in my face, (inspired by my “go Megan” in her face every time she swims). I looked to my side as I turned. I was second to last. At least it’s not last. I made it to the end. My elbow was killing me, but hey, I did it. 39.65 was my time; it was a personal record. That made me happy. I beat 40 seconds too. That’s sure something to celebrate about.
It wasn’t over, though. I still had one more race, a 200 yard freestyle relay. At least I only had to swim a 50, and it was first. I stepped up on the block, ready to go, adjusting my goggles. I grabbed the block and took off. As I hit the water, I felt something restraining my neck, causing breathing to be hard, and my eyes were cold and wet. My goggles had come off. I knew I wasn’t swimming in a straight line. I was moving toward the left side of the lane. I tried to swim toward the middle, but I just ended up going over to the right side. Gasping for air, opening my eyes every chance I got, I swore I was going to die. I made it back, though. I got out of the water with just enough time to see the second person dive off the block. I almost collapsed as I got out, holding onto the block for support. Then it came. The shock of pain went through my elbow and I practically screamed but kept it inside to cheer on my teammates. We got second in our heat. I guess it wasn’t bad, but I always have the weird feeling that we could’ve won if it wouldn’t have been for me.
***
That meet may have been really bad, but I’m not done. This summer is going to be the best. Waking up at six a.m. to get in that freezing cold Fairfax water to swim my butt off is what I need to do. At that big invitational, I am going to be the fastest I’ve ever been. Injuries are behind me. This is my time, and when I turn around this summer after I finish my final race, I am going to see all those sorry people coughing and spitting on the horrible turbulence they just experienced…me, forcing them to eat…my…bubbles.





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