“Swimming is normal for me. I’m relaxed, I’m comfortable, and I know my surroundings. It’s my home.”-Michael Phelps
In this case, the first just happened to be the last. I first joined swimming in 3rd grade and have kept at it until now. My first swim lesson marked the beginning of a long and harmonious relationship with the sport. Now I eat, sleep, and live through swimming. It has become an irreplaceable addition to my life.
The clear, pristine water brushed through my fingertips as I pulled through the water, taking the last winning stroke of the event. As I reached for the tiled wall, I heard the encouraging cheers of my supportive parents and fellow swimmers. Breathing hard, I veered around to see my desired time displayed on the scoreboard. I tasted victory as I was bombarded with smiling faces and congratulatory pats on the back. The setting was perfect. It was the 50-meter freestyle event, my home territory.
I had worked months to perfect those 28.35 seconds of swimming. To me, swimming is more than just a sport. It is a passion, with feelings incomparable to anything else. It dominates my life, teaching me about true dedication and ambition.
I have a love-hate relationship with swimming, as do all my fellow swimmers. Practice means hard work, but it is all worth it in the end. Our two-hour swim practices take place six days a week. The cool, refreshing water is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day of school. As I walk through the wired front gates, I am greeted by the members of my second family, my swimmer family. Together, we brace ourselves for whatever hard, grueling set our coach had prepared for us that day.
Ignoring our complaints, my coach shouts in a thick, Russian accent, “Vee gooo… to swim!”
Together, we dive into ice-cold water for rude wake-up call. While most kids my age listen to the works of Eminem or Katy Perry, my afternoon playlist is composed of the sweetest of melodies: sweat and chlorine. As I take strokes, the chlorinated water seeps through my mouth as I breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
The only sounds made are of splashing water and of our Russian coach yelling at us about our stroke technique. Two hours later, I always feel triumphant for making it through practice, no matter how hard or easy it was. Morning practice is like a battle––brutal, but worth fighting for.
Swimming is not something that I was forced into. It is a sport that I sincerely enjoy. It has not only helped me to realize an ambition to succeed, but has also cultivated my growth as a character. I feel that swimming has completely changed my lifestyle. It is a sport where determination and drive are built. Swimming has made me the competitive, well-rounded person that I am today. The races and victories I achieve bring me a life fulfillment and an honest ambition to work toward something.
Hands placed firmly on the starting block, head tucked in, and feet ready to spring. I could almost smell the tension. Take your mark…beep. I waited as the buzzer sounded off, beginning the start of the race. I exploded into a flawless dive, did three dolphin kicks, and swam. Where? I don’t know. It didn’t matter where I was going, as long as I just kept swimming.