The Swimmer (High School) Part 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Hated, yet needed. Yearning, yet running away. The day in the life of the Swimmer.

What the hell was I doing here? In truth it is more a statement than a question. In reality, I was at a swim meet, and I was in it to win it. I know that sounds really dumb to you, and it does to me. But that’s the only reasoning I can give myself, as dorky as it is. It is event four, girls 50-yard freestyle. I walk over to lane four, seemingly confident, uncaring, and ready. But inside I am a mess of worry. What if I do something completely wrong? What if I mess the whole team up and we loose, all because of me? I know my friends would say different; that there really isn’t anything at all the worry about. “Event four, heat one, of the girls 50 yard freestyle,” comes the announcer, cool and collected. “The names on the board are correct,” he says before he tells us to get ready. “Swimmers, take your mark,” I step up onto the diving block, heart pounding right out of my chest. I get into diving position- I know I look different. Other girls have their knees bent and hands on the bottom of the block, faces looking forward. But I have my knees bent, but arm arched downward, chin tightly to my chest. The buzzer beeps and the blue/white light flashes and I dive. Under the water everything is cool and calm, just like the announcer’s voice. I remember to breathe out of my mouth but have to surface for air. My goggles have dropped, letting water into my eyes. I quickly straighten them, but by then I am behind. I wish I could hear my best friend’s cheers, but I am against her. I start swimming, and even underwater I can hear Coach K shouting to keep my head underwater. I know it makes me go faster, and I feel it, but it is so hard. I don’t know why. I reach the shallow end, touch the wall and kick off, because I haven’t yet mastered my turns yet, at least not backstroke and freestyle, and head back toward the screaming mob of people at the end of the lane near the diving blocks. I remember to keep my head down, even though my goggles let water seep into my eyes. I kick and stroke the hardest I can, until I see the score pad in front of me. I lift my head for air and then go back down, remembering Coach’s rule- Always finish underwater. I reach out and touch the pad and come up, emptying my goggles and breathing hard. If I hurry and get out and put my glasses on, I might be able to see my time and my place. I duck under the lane lines separating lane and come up in lane three, go under again and just swim under the other lane divider and surface, climbing up the stairs since I’m horrible at climbing up on the diving block. I can do it, but it takes more time and makes me look like an idiot. I rush over to my towel on stiff legs, wrap it around me, and grab my glasses, sticking them onto my face. I look up to the board, but they’ve already cleared it for heat two. My glasses fog up, so I clean them on my towel, even though I know they’ll fog back up in a second. I walk over to the wall where the meet line up is posted. I look just after the 50 free. I’m not swimming until the freestyle relay at the very end. And I am the very first diver. I hate going first; it all depends on you to get the relay going. If you are slow, then you come in at a lesser place. Stephanie, a girl to my left who’s also in my homeroom, looks at the line up. “You’re in my lane for the freestyle relay,” she tells me. I look closer and see that its true. I nod. “Yeah, I guess so.” She turns to me. “How fast do you swim?” I shrug. “I can’t remember,” I lie. In truth I don’t ever look at my times. I find it degrading, especially if your time went up, rather than dropped. Maybe at the end of the season I’ll look and find how much time I dropped between the first meet and the last. “Well, I want to win,” Stephanie stares at me. I stare back for a few minutes and then my friend Alyson rescues me. We walk over to our bench and sit down, cheering halfheartedly for our swimmers in the next heat of the 50 free. “Did you hear what she said to me?” I ask. “No,” Alyson shakes her head and waves to her parents sitting in the pool balcony. Mine, of course, aren’t there. I tell Alyson what Stephanie said to me and she shakes her head. “She’s a witch with a capitol B.” I smile slightly. Hearing Alyson’s confident words comfort me slightly. “I thought she was okay,” I say, but that was before today, I guess. We cheer through everything else, and then it’s time for the freestyle relay. I take my mark and I can feel Stephanie, who goes second, staring at my back in dislike. I take off, and for some reason, I feel as though I go slower than I ever have. I make it back and Stephanie jumps in. I climb up on the diving block looking very stupid, and grab my towel and glasses before Stephanie can get back and reprimand me. I hear someone shouting my name and see my parents in the balcony. I wish I could disappear into some deep, dark hole. After heat two, Alyson and I join the high-five line and congratulate the other team, even though we won. Then coach catches us and tells us to do a hundred warm-down. I jump into lane 1 with a friendly girl from a few of my classes. She goes off and I go second as two of the gossipy girls jump in. I swim freestyle, and my goggles fill up again. I hear my mom screaming my name and when I get to the end of the lane I look up and scream back. “What?” “Put your head down!” she yells back I roll my eyes and swim freestyle back. Apparently they got here sometimes after I had swum. I catch Coach K and ask if we can do any other stroke. He says yes, so I do backstroke the rest of the warm-down. Then I head into the locker room to change. I take a shower, which only warms up when I’m done and ready to go change. I get dressed and chat with my friends in our little locker space. I gather my things and walk outside. I am just glad this is the last meet before a long and deserved break for the holidays. On the Wednesday after Christmas, I walk into the pool to find practice canceled, just as I see my dad driving away. Since I don’t have a cell phone, I ask to borrow my friend Mariah’s. Dad’s friend and the mother of one of my other friends is coming to pick me up. Shortly after, Mariah leaves and I stand around and talk with my friend, Katie. We talk about Christmas gifts and swimming and anything else. Our coach and my math, science, and homeroom teacher walks over and begins talking to us. I nod along with what he and Katie talk about, but don’t say much. I guess I don’t want to say anything that can later be used against me. He seems nice, but I guess I am afraid of those I don’t know very well or understand. Thankfully, my ride comes minutes later, saving me from inside embarrassment. I spend the rest of the day playing Simms Castaway with my friend and her hilarious brother.


Submitted: March 14, 2009

© Copyright 2022 Faryn Katz. All rights reserved.

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