Personal Narrative: The Swimming Pool

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I nervously pick at the peeling calluses on my palm. My hands are gross; rough and peeling, I really need to stop bothering them before they start to bleed but I can't. I am too nervous. My stomach is rolling like the ocean. Woosh, whoosh. I start to pace. My bare feet splash in the puddles on the floor and I shiver. That's not good. I need to stay warm! I start to pace. There is only room for a few steps in each direction. Four small steps to the right. Three larger ones back to the start. And repeat. I catch myself picking at my hands again. I need to stop that.
“Event number six, 100 fly. Heat one of two. Quiet for the start.” The cold, robotic and distorted voice of the announcer interrupts the crowd's monotonous roar. The volume decreases
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I joined the team barely knowing how to do a passable freestyle and I needed one-on-one instruction on how to do a flip turn. I enjoyed two good years of the “slow lane” life and swam exclusively in heat one. Than one day I discovered I hated being slow. I hated watching the fast girls get out of the pool having finished their set knowing I was only three quarters of the way through. And I hated having to tell people what my best times were.
I spent the summer before junior year swimming for a local club team, a first for me but old news for every other competitive swimmer. The practices were at 6:30 in the morning. The pool was half an hour away. It required serious determination to get up every calm summer morning to spend two hours staring at the bottom of a pool. It worked though. For the first time I began the season in shape and spent the season dropping time instead of getting in shape. I swam best times at most of my races junior year. Best times for me however, were nowhere near where I wanted to
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I would wake up at 5:50 put on a swimsuit, grab a power bar and climb into my car. After practice I would either go run or lift weights. When season rolled around I was stronger and faster than I had ever been and I decided to become a butterflier. Because of swimming I know what it's like to be tired, to be hungry, and to have every muscle in my body burn. I know what it feels like to reach a point where I can’t imagine continuing and then doing a flip and finishing the race. I have felt both unimaginably exhausted and fanatically elated at once. Swimming changed me. The sport evolved me, made me stronger, made me better. Maybe that's why I swim butterfly, to remind myself that dramatic change is possible.
Heat one finishes their race. The winner, a girl from the opposing team finished in one minute and 14 seconds. Her chest is heaving, her eyes unfocused. I lower my goggles over my eyes. I slap my legs and then my arms. My fingers find the calluses on my palms again. “Event number six, 100 fly. Heat two of two. Quiet for the

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