“Quiet for the Start”Finally, after months of detailed training and rigorous practice, my hard work paid off; I had made it to the state championship. Pride welled up in my heart as I walked up to the starting block with my relay team and we got ready to swim our event. Looking out over the pool, memories flashed across my mind; memories of times long gone. I remember waking up at 5:00 am every morning to swim before school. I remember the mental and physical battles during difficult workouts.
But now in hindsight all the pain and labor has paid off. Now it is all worth it. Nothing matters but this race right here, right now. Not only was this my last race of the season but it was also the last swim of my high school career. Four years of labor had prepared me for this moment. A hush fell over the stands as the announcer said, “Quiet for the start.
” For a few brief moments everything was silent, a tension waiting to be broken.
Then, as the buzzer sounded, the air exploded with cheers and the race began.The roar of the crowd was immediately silenced as I entered the water and a peaceful calm took its place. Slicing the water as a knife through butter, I led off the relay. I held a key role in influencing the mental state of my teammates. Confidence would be established if I led the pool, uncertainty if I dropped behind. As I approached the surface of the water I knew it would be a great race. I was prepared, mentally and physically, for the swim ahead of me.
Desiring to make my team proud, I swam with all my might. Only a mere twenty-three seconds later, I was done. While my teammates dove in and continued the relay, I got out of the pool and checked my split; the last spilt of my high school career. With disbelief I saw that I had just swam a personal best. All of my hard work had paid off. The daily workouts, lack of sleep, and the physical and mental exhaustion of swimming were all worth it. I had done my job, now it was up to my teammates.
Nervously, I watched on as they finished the relay. When our final time came up on the board my mind just went blank. We had been disqualified for an early start. Frustration welled up inside me, like lava in a volcano. I could not believe that instead of my last race ending as a personal best, it was to be dismissed entirely. My main issue was not that my fastest split would be negated, but the fact that I had worked so hard to do my best and one of my teammates had ruined it for me. All the time, money, and energy I had invested in the sport had culminated into my final race and it became a bitter memory to end an otherwise wonderful career.
Now that I look back on it, however, I see a lesson in my struggles. Nothing I did could determine how other influences would affect me. My investment in swimming prepared me as an individual but it could not protect me from someone else’s shortcomings. All of my time and energy was not wasted just because I had to accept the consequences of someone else’s failure. I swam my best time and accomplished what I wanted. I had reached and achieved my goal. I should not let the mistake of another determine the value of my success.
Real reward is in the journey you take to achieve something, not only in the final product. True, as a team we had lost, but individually, I had won.
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