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I swim for you

Legs shaking, beads of sweat slipping down my neck, I slowly step up to the block. My head is spinning but empty of everything at the same time. A voice in my mind whispers focus. Out of the corner of my eye I see another swimmer warming up, stretching her arms and rolling her neck. A second later she’s crouched down like a cat, ready to go. I pull my goggles into place, transforming my eyes into two mirrors reflecting the pool. Behind my goggles I can be anyone I want. Focus. The loudspeakers pop and a deep voice comes on. I lean forward a couple inches and feel my muscles tighten.

“Swimmers, take your mark” the voice echoes.

I curl my fingers around the edge of the block then turn my head to look at the stands. At the far end I see him standing there, staring at me with expecting eyes. My chest is pounding; it’s the longest 2 seconds of my life.

“Get set…”


My livestrong band suddenly feels like a chain around my wrist. I close my eyes and force everything around me to disappear; it’s just me and the water now. I take a deep breath.

“Go.”

Like an electric charge the voice shocks me into motion. My body responds before my brain knows what’s happening. I snap forward and arc my back, hitting the water with barely a splash and slicing the pale blue surface in two. I kick automatically until I’m above again, drinking up the air, then I slip back under. My arms pull, knowing this routine all too well. The familiar burning sensation tears through my lungs as I push myself harder and harder.

Pull, kick, pull. Pull, kick, breathe. My thoughts are mechanical but my body moves with ease. Tiles gleaming underneath, the wall comes at me fast. I take one last breath before I bend and flip. My legs shoot out and crash against the wall sending me in the opposite direction. I feel the water hugging my arms and legs, trying to pull me down but it only makes me fight harder. I take off in a sprint, I don’t feel, don’t think, just move. Water fills my ears and I’m wrapped in the silence. My body goes numb and melts into the pool. For a few seconds I’m flying.

Then as soon as it started, the race is over. My fingers brush the sensor pad and I hear the buzzer sound. I barely have time to catch my breath before I’m pulled out of the pool by strong hands. The adrenaline pumping through my veins has disappeared and now I’m too tired to move. My coach puts and arm on my waist and helps me over to bleachers. My friends are there and I feel their high fives and congratulations.

“Nice job Monica,” Coach whispers, “I’m proud of you.”

I smile then turn away, looking in the crowd. I scan every face but he’s gone. There is a woman standing by the door where he was before. I walk towards the locker room, looking everywhere. I have to sit down on the edge of the pool, my chest heaving. Then it hits me, and I realize he was never even there.




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