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Don’t call her the next Michael Phelps

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HAVE YOU EVER experienced a time when your body is so relaxed that nothing can disturb the tranquility running through your veins? This is a rare feeling I attain only while I am underwater.

It is the first few seconds after I dive in when I am trapped inside my own thoughts. Completely submerged under the water, I am free from the outside world, hearing nothing but the sound of my feet propelling me forward as fast as they can. When I finally break the surface of the water, I realise that the calm rush of the beginning of the race is over, and the pressure is there to win.

The sensation I get from swimming took years to obtain. Swimming has made me cry a million times, made me think to the point of mental exhaustion, and it’s broken down my body. It has made me immune to Advil.

It’s no question that this sport is one of the most difficult out there. In order to beat the clock and get faster times, the training is essential. The clock shows no mercy. It won’t hear my excuses.

And even when I’m positive that I have put all of myself into this sport, the outcome always varies. It’s the mental strength that sets a good swimmer apart from an exceptional swimmer. I need to know how to make my body move, at exactly the right moment. If I make a mistake it could cost me half of a second. And half of a second could mean everything.

As much as swimming has made me question my very worth, it has disciplined me in ways that nothing or no one else could. It has taught me how to prioritize, how to push through obstacles, and my personal favorite, how to eat a Twinkie five seconds before a championship race.

It has taken me a long time to realise how strong swimming has made me. I will do anything to lower the number on the board. It is this desire that makes a true athlete. The relentless, never-good-enough attitude. Always wanting to be better.

Swimming makes me want to be better.

At the end of a race, I return to that place of tranquility, knowing that the struggle is over. This feeling reminds me of a slack tide. This is when the water is completely unstressed, and there is no movement before the tide starts to stream again. Swimming is my slack tide.

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Swimmer

  1. Are you the next Michael Phelps?

No. I really don’t understand why anyone would ask that question. Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer, and arguably the greatest athlete of all time. I, however, swim in a recreational league and can barely do four laps without wanting to pass out.

  1. Why does your hair get wet if you are wearing a swim cap?

I see where you could be confused here; I was, too. Somehow water gets in there when I’m underwater. I think someone needs to invent a cap that doesn’t leak water. One reason is so I can stop being asked this question.

  1. Did you win your meet?

I can win a race, but I can’t win a meet on my own. It would definitely be cool if I could, though. That’s like saying you won a football game by yourself, playing every position.

  1. You have to swim 500 laps?!

There is no way I would ever do 500 laps in my life. When I say that I have to swim a 500 that means 500 yards. A pool is 25 yards, so a 500 is 20 laps. I mean, yes, that is still a lot to swim, but at least it’s not the 1650. That’s 66 laps of my goggles being filled with my tears.

  1. Are you really going to eat all of that?

Yes, I am. If you are looking to share, sorry pal. I eat a lot. I deserve all of this food. I work it off at practice, and then I get hungry. So what if I want to eat a large pineapple pizza and a side of breadsticks with another side of mozzarella sticks. It’s a free country. I can eat if I want.

  1. Your hair is really dry.

Wow. Thanks for that awesome boost of confidence. I understand that my hair looks like those tumbleweeds that roll across the screen in old western movies. It takes a lot of effort for my hair to look this good. My secret is the shampoo I like to call chlorine. I think that’s Latin for really dry and ugly hair, or something like that.

  1. Why does it smell like a pool in here?

Oh, yeah, hi. That would be me. I actually live in the pool, so my natural scent has become chlorine. Trust me when I say this, I use three types of soap, and none of them work. Dove, Dial, Nivea, all of that stuff is a hoax. I figured out a system that kind of masks the scent. I just have to shower six times a day, and I should be fine.

  1. Swimming isn’t even a real sport.

Now this one makes me laugh. Swimmers do more kicks than a soccer player, more flips than a cheerleader, more yards than a football player, and that is a fact. Swimming is the hardest thing I have ever done. There are no breaks, no time-outs, no substitutions. If I have a five second break, I am using them wisely. Those five seconds are a blessing.  But, yeah, I guess throwing and catching flying objects is hard, too (Just kidding I know all sports are difficult).

  1. I bet I could beat you.

That’s a good one. You made me smile.

  1. Why were you doing No Shave November?

This is the most awkward thing that I have to explain to people. Girls do No Shave November to prepare for a meet. Not shaving your legs creates drag (resistance) so when you actually shave for a championship meet in December, your legs will be as smooth as a raw hot dog fresh out of the package. When you swim a race with shaved legs, you will definitely swim faster. Whether you take a hundredth of a second off your fastest time or three seconds, it is so worth growing a forest on your legs. (That was a joke. Legs don’t actually look like that.)

Bonus: (Bet you didn’t see this one coming). I love it when people say, “Why are you freaking out, it’s just a race.”

No. It is not just a race. There are limited times left when I can swim as a competitive swimmer. A bad race to me is like dropping your favorite scoop of ice cream on the floor. Or that test that you studied a good 10 hours for, but you still got a solid 37%. It’s a sad day when I don’t swim well. I feel like I looked like Michael Phelps, but I’m actually just a whale.

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Don’t call her the next Michael Phelps