“If you don’t step it up, you’ll get replaced in the relay.” | Teen Ink

“If you don’t step it up, you’ll get replaced in the relay.”

May 11, 2022
By Anonymous

“If you don’t step it up, you’ll get replaced in the relay.”


My heart dropped to my stomach. My face got pale. My varsity swimming coach said these words the day before the biggest swim meet of the season. He said it in such a vulgar tone, I was shocked. 

The whole rest of the day I felt sick to my stomach with the nervousness taking over my body. I wasn’t sure If I was going to be able to “step it up”.  I knew I never wanted to feel like this again. I realized that this anxiety feeling was not healthy and I wasn’t happy.

“If we lose, it’s your fault.” My fellow teammate said on the way to our rival team's pool for a swim meet. I was so overwhelmed. 

I ran to the locker room feeling like I was drowning in my own lungs,like I was dying. Catching my breath seemed impossible. Tears rolled down my face. I told myself to not listen to them, but my anxiety took over. I told nobody about my struggles. Being a strong swimmer on a team that only relied on the strong swimmers was an extremely toxic environment.

My mom noticed my unhappiness and my anxious habits. She explained to me, “I feel so helpless”. 

I opened up to her after never opening up to anyone. “I can’t deal with this mom. I really want to quit but I don’t know how.” Even talking about swimming made me anxious. Usually my mom pushes me forward and keeps me going through tough times. But she knew this wasn't just a “tough time”. I wasn’t myself. 

She explained, “I support your decision, I hate seeing you like this. It's not you.” I felt some relief. She continued, “It’s your decision, not anyone else’s.” I nodded and walked into my room. Staring at my ceiling, I was indecisive about what I should do. 

I hesitantly asked my close friends for their opinions. “It’s not a big deal just do it.” “It’s your senior year, just do it.” “Teresa you can’t quit.” “Change your mindset.” It wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t change my mindset, I completely lost the love for the sport. I felt as if none of my friends supported me. 

This feeling changed when I was venting to a friend I wasn’t even that close to. She had also quit her sport she loved, and was telling me about her experience. “I felt so stressed and overwhelmed to quit.” 

“Wow, It feels so nice to be understood,” I said.

She continued,“After I quit I became so much happier.”

Something clicked in my head. I decided to email my coach to let him know I was quitting. I was very hesitant to press send. The send button scared me, not knowing what his reaction to the email may be. My friend Sofia took my phone annoyingly and pressed send for me. She knew I wasn’t gonna be able to do it.

Quitting is ok, if it means you're going to be happy.

My life after swimming was a lot better. I worked on new hobbies such as going to the gym, getting a job as a lifeguard, and focusing more on school. 

I became the best version of myself. 

My mom noticed, “Teresa, You seem stress free since you quit swimming. Do you miss it at all?”

“Yes I do miss it, I miss the memories and the lessons it has taught me but, I don’t miss how miserable I was.”

 Though it may seem like the end of the world to quit something that has been such a big part of your life, happiness is and always will be my first priority. 

Quitting swimming was one of the best and hardest decisions I have ever made. I do not regret quitting; quitting has helped me find myself. 

The author's comments:

Ever since I was young I did swimming, it was a huge part of my life. That was until my teen years when I started getting way too much pressure and anxiety from the sport, to the point where it was not healthy for me. I wanted to quit so bad, but I was terrified to quit something that was such an impact on my life. After two years of fighting through it, I finally quit. All my stress was gone. I improved myself and never felt better about myself in years. Quitting something that has been there your whole life is scary, but I promise you aren't alone. Doing what's best for you is extremely important.

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