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Rock Street, San Francisco

I am about two feet away from the water; I stare at it, and I see a clear reflection of myself, almost as if I’m looking in a mirror. Right now the water is so calm and smooth, but in just a few seconds, the motionless water will turn white as the swimmers churn through it, creating waves across the pool. I wrap my toes tightly around the block, my body curled up like a spring ready to explode.

As if I already do not have enough to worry about with my race, the silence of the pool deck adds to it. My nerves then begin to rise up and spread like a fire throughout my body. The main enemy I have in my race is the time clock. Right now it is set a zero, but once it starts, it does not want to stop.

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“This is the one hundred individual medley. Swimmers, take your mark…. BEEP!!” With the sound of the buzzer, I was off.

Thirty minutes prior to my race, I walked over to the seating area. I glanced around and noticed that I was the only one there. Well, it’s better to be thirty minutes early, than a minute late and miss my race, I thought, trying to calm my nerves.

I began to mentally prepare myself for what was to come. My last chance. My last chance to break a record, and the chance to prove to myself that hard work really does pay off. Just relax Sarah, you can do this.

The butterflies in my stomach would not go away, no matter how hard I tried to make them. I sat there, dead silent, trying to ignore all of the chatter and chaos close by me. I couldn’t focus. My heart was pounding, my nerves were tingling, and every muscle in my body was tense. I was so nervous that my stomach began to churn, as if I had just swallowed a tornado. After a good night’s sleep, I hoped to be relaxed by now. I wasn’t. Stop. Focus. Just breathe. I shut my eyes and suddenly the turbulent world around me went silent and black.

Coach Taylor broke the silence when he screamed, “Are you ready to swim?!”

“Yes,” I replied startled by the abrupt noise.

“Don’t be nervous! Swim like you always do,” he responded, trying to boost my confidence.

Don’t be nervous? What kind of advice is that. How on Earth was I not suppose to worry?! I asked myself, but deep down I knew he was right.

My nine other competitors started to stretch, so I did too. I began to take deep breaths, in and out, trying to get into the zone. Just keep up with the girl next to you. Go hard, go fast, and go strong, I thought, Give it your all because this is it.

I stood up from the chairs and frantically walked over to my lane. The swimmers in the heat before me were already on their last lap of the race. The black tile running down each lane appeared to me as a runway. In just a few minutes, I would be moving down that runway, like a plane trying to take off across the pool. I heard the referee blow his whistle. This was it.

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