From the age of nine through high school, I swam competitively. I trained on my local club team, the YMCA team, and competed for my high school team. I had a love-hate relationship with the sport. However, swimming has brought me so much joy throughout my life by giving me friendships, teaching me to push myself beyond my limits, and giving me opportunities to be a leader.
However, it has also brought me a significant amount of pain. From early morning practices that forced me out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to feeling like my shoulders were going to fall off after an intense workout, swimming has given me a run for my money. Throughout my swimming career, I have cried, I have screamed my head off for teammates, and I have almost blacked out in the middle of breath control sets.
The sport that I grew up with has been what has shaped me into who I am today. When I think about some of my favorite memories, one particular memory stands out to me.
To set the scene, I was a sophomore in high school. It was the end of the season, and I was getting ready to finish the season by swimming at the championship meet. The last event of the meet was the four by 100 freestyle relay, and I was on my team’s relay. We were in the final heat of the event.
After we watched the other heats before us, my relay approached the blocks. Finally, we got ourselves in order: Noel, me, Bailey, and Maddie. We had trained the whole season for this moment. The starter blew his whistle, and Noel stepped up to the block. As soon as the horn went off, Noel exploded off the block. She took the lead almost immediately and gained a significant amount of distance between our relay and the rest of our competitors.
As she finished her final lap, I stood on the block and waited for her return. As soon as her hand touched the wall, I launched myself into the pool. I remember I had never moved so fast through the water. I think I took one breath per lap, which means I only breathed four times while swimming 100 yards. Moving through the water, I continued to build on the distance Noel had established. Approaching my final lap, I pushed myself to the point that I almost blacked out as my hand droved into the wall.
Bailey and Maddie followed up behind and built on the lead our relay had created. Then, as Maddie, the last swimmer touched the wall, my coach began screaming with enthusiasm. My relay had won the entire championship meet. But that is not the end of the story.
Our relay team had swam so fast that we beat our high school’s twenty-year-old record. In fact, we demolished it! So, not only did my relay team win the championship, but we also became record holders. And that is my favorite sports moment when three of my teammates and I swam as hard as we could to take the championship title and get our names into the record book.