The Race

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I braced myself against the cold and gingerly dipped a toe in the seemingly frigid water.
'Swimmers in the water!' came the command. I bit my lip, trying in vain to calm the raging battle of butterflies that was going on somewhere near my stomach, and took the plunge. Whoosh! I could hardly help gasping as a was surrounded by cold, yet refreshing, water. I opened my eyes. There is something enchanting and mysterious about the world under water, even in a five-foot deep swimming pool. Focus, my brain said. Concentrate! I rose to the surface.
'Swimmers take your mark!' My fingers gripped the edge of the pool; I bent my legs under me and braced them against the wall, straining to hear the sound that everyone around me was also waiting to hear.
PHWEEET!!! At the blast of the whistle I pushed off the wall with all my strength and glided through the water. 'I can do this,' I told myself. It is the 200 yard freestyle, an event I'd never swum before. Eight lengths of the pool stretched ahead of me. Seven flip-turns; that is what intimidated me. I completed the first, second, third'
I could feel myself slowing down. As the end of the pool loomed ahead of me again, I felt a quiver of fear. I can't do this flip, I thought. But there was no time for thinking. I reached for the edge of the wall, turned around, and pushed off again. Had anyone noticed? I managed the next two turns in the same way. I had now completed 150 of the 200 yard race. My arms and legs were aching; my lungs screamed for air, which they could only get in tiny gasps. From the corner of my eye, I saw my sister jumping up and down by the edge of the pool. Does her excitement mean that I'm ahead, or that I need to catch up with someone? I wondered. Whichever it was, I realized, I was almost done. I could do this!
With my last burst of energy, I pulled my hardest and accomplished my final flip-turn. Somehow, I made it down the last length of the pool. I slapped the wall, but could hardly pull myself our of the water. My legs felt like rubber. I took in great gulps of air. I couldn't remember ever feeling so just plain worn-out. But I did it, and the blue ribbon I now hold in my hand was worth everything.





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