Chlorine in my Veins

December 18, 2008
The water is always calling my name. Somehow it taunts me, making me feel so anxious, yet so intimidated. I used to give the water a chance to creep into my thoughts and sprinkle unwanted butterflies into my stomach, but that night was different. That night I was not going to let the water scare me like before. I had worked so hard for that one race, that one moment.

Years ago I would have never imagined that I, a young 13 year old, would be swimming in the Goliath of all swim meets, State Finals. There was no going back now. I had finally climbed to the top and nothing, I mean nothing, could bring me down. As I stood behind the starting blocks, I tried to direct my thoughts on positive things but somehow negative outcomes and possibilities kept sneaking in and scaring my innocent mind. Finally, the whistle blew. The water in front of me was so still it resembled glass just waiting to be broken. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating so fast I can felt it throughout my whole body. The cold March air made it almost impossible to stay warm. Time began to stand still and the race seemed so far away. At last, I made my way up to the starting blocks. When I stepped up and looked around, I finally felt the pressure. My parents were counting on me to make them proud, my coach was depending on me to get the team more points and I was counting on myself to have the race of my life.

“Swimmers take your mark, BEEP,” was the last thing I heard before I propelled my whole body into the ice-cold water. My mind was now on autopilot and my only option was swim the way I have practiced. Each lap that went by, I tried my hardest to keep up with the pack of determined swimmers. At this point, the race was too close to call. Every time I breathed, my ears filled with the faint cheers of the crowd, and every once in a while my eyes took a quick glance at my proud parents, who gave me that extra push I needed. As the last lap neared, I tried to focus on my swimming not anyone else’s. I wanted so badly to prove those people wrong. The people who looked down on me and told me I didn’t have a chance. This was my time to shine.
The finishing wall became closer and closer as I pushed myself harder than I ever had. I used the rest of my energy, the rest of my strength for those last couple of yards. BAM! I threw myself into the wall. The race was over. It was done. The scoreboard was the only thing that knew my fate. My lungs felt as if they are going to explode, and my exhausted legs ached. All the throbbing muscles in my body felt as if they were going to burst and my heart was beating faster than it ever has.
I quickly glanced up to see the results. I tried to tell myself that what I saw would’t matter because only I knew how much work I had put into this race. I pushed myself so hard in all those practices and dreamed so long of this chance to swim in finals.
On the scoreboard it read, “Lane 3, 2nd place.” “I got second place. I am the second fastest 13-14 year old girl in the state of Arizona,” I told myself.
Quick glances at the results reassured me that this was real. I had just won second place at STATE. My aching body hurt so badly, and my lungs still burnt every time I took a deep breath. I wanted to jump out of the water in excitement but my exhausted body held me back. This pain was only temporary but it was so worth it.
Everything around me felt so surreal as I tried to lift my fatigued body out of the water to go celebrate with my ecstatic parents. My caring mom, who always knows what to say, threw her arms around me and exclaimed, “Wow, I am so proud of you. See, I told you all your hard work would pay off.”

It turned out my mom was right. All those many hours I spent practicing in the pool did pay off. Even though first place would have been nice, I am still so proud of myself. That season, my coach taught me discipline and commitment by pushing me past my limits. In the end, every single painful, grueling workout was worth it. Just like in life, times were difficult in swimming and I didn’t always see the results that I wanted. Sometimes my frustration would get in the way, but I stuck to swimming and kept working harder, knowing the final outcome would be worth it. When difficult situations come up I have learned not to just give up. By enduring through tough times that seem impossible, we grow stronger. We just can't let the water creep into our minds and keep us from achieving our goals. Simply dive right in and live life!

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