The Best I've Ever Been

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The Best I’ve Ever Been

Small, triangular flags hang, side by side, in motionless procession. I count them --- twenty two flags, alternating blue and white, hang above the clear waters of the high school swimming pool. I study their dancing reflection in the cold blue water. The pool is packed today. A din of echoes emanates from the stands of spectators and competitors alike. My event, the 100 meter butterfly, is up next. I sit on a hard aluminum folding chair shivering in my damp towel; nervous. Bouts of anxiety and doubt assault me in waves. I know that I had prepared, practiced and planned for this during the weeks prior. My event time is very good in comparison with my competition. Then again, the real competition isn’t the poor shivering fellow sitting across the pool from me. No, the real competition is me.
Contrary to popular belief, swimming isn’t a group sport. My team becomes a gaggle of cheerleaders when I am in the water and the winner isn’t necessarily the one who finishes first. Beating your best time is the ultimate goal in swimming. Come to think of it, beating your best is the ultimate goal in everything. That’s the true measure of success. That way, a man isn’t necessarily successful if he is rich or if he is famous. After all, fame and fortune are fleeting and sometimes ill-gotten. That way, success remains perpetual and incorruptible. That way a race becomes so much more than a race.
I count the flags again, trying to steady the tumult within me. My eyes are transfixed on the wiggling triangular shapes in the water. I know it’s almost time, when my coach beckons me forward. Instinctively, everyone quiets down until only the murmur of the water pump is audible. As I climb up on the block, my mind finally quiets. All my anxiety and every doubt, disappear instantly. “Swimmers take your mark.” I can hear my heart-rate quicken. “Get set.” The room takes in a collective breath. “Go!”





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

astleye said...
Oct. 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm
This story is well writen. Your description is well said like how you said,"That way, success remains perpetual and incorruptible." You used a lot of personification. I swim and all the facts in this are true. The part where you were saying about the swimmer getting ready, I liked how you said about the swimmer on the hard aluminum chair. The story is well writen.
 
Taras G. said...
Feb. 24, 2009 at 5:24 pm
I wrote this essay as a college application requirement, so I tried to make the writing fit the college essay mold. Specifically my aim was to write about an autobiographical event and then extrapolate ideas from it to describe a personal philosophy. I accomplished my goal for this essay, I think. In retrospect, I probably could have fleshed out the story a bit more. It does seem a tad shorter than what I would have liked, but I was careful to not sound too 'preachy.'
 
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