Then it hits me, the rush of anxiety, the butterflies in my stomach, and there is a wind of commotion in my head. Taking my position, legs parted, arms near my ears, head bent I tell myself that I can do this, “I can”. With that resounding through me, I pull back. The whistle blows again and I dive in. My fingers touch the water first. My body slides in after, effortlessly.

I think of my coaches words, what to focus on, but my body knows what to do. I feel as though there is nothing else and no one else that matters. My body moves on, hands cut through the water seamlessly, legs straight and kicking a continuous rhythm. My muscles relax. I turn to take a breath, seeing my competitor right beside me, it hits me again. This isn’t training, it’s a competition. This is where I prove myself to my coaches, competitors and my parents.

I move forward, now aware of the close distance my competitors are at. Reaching the wall, arms stretched, I tuck and turn to begin the next lap. Another girl is ahead of me. Pushing against the wall, I give it my all. My legs kick as fast as they can and I’ve caught up. Without taking a breath, without thinking of anything else but the goal, I swim.

I touch the wall.

Out of breath, I close my eyes, bobbing up and down in the water. Every time I do this, swim against some one or for people it’s the same. My emotions, apprehensions and impatience are the same as they were when I did this for the first time. The yearning for doing what I love and doing it the best I possibly can are what continuously rises. When I open my eyes all the participants have reached the end as well. We swim to the stairs, and I am pulled out.

I don’t ask for the result, only look at my coaches face. His grim look says it all. But then as he looks at his timer, the expression turns into a smile. Still confused, he says that I’ve won the gold. I came first, and I beat my own personal best.

And for the first time my parents are here to witness it all. I don’t have to go back home and narrate the story of winning again, they’ve seen me do it. The shine in their eyes, tells me more than they can say. I’ve done it. Not won them gold, but won them over with my talent and passion.

Image Credit: David Di Veroli