Written by Brinley McKee
Tooele Invitational. The 100 yard butterfly. 1:46.59. This was the time I had to beat. I needed so desperately to beat that time. I had not swum the 100 fly for years in a race. Walking up to that block silently preparing myself for the most challenging, yet beautiful stroke. I did not know what to think. I was too nervous to think. The entire room turned black except my lane. Trying to remember everything we went over preparing for this race. The technique. No false starting, two hand touches, wrists leads, hips up, head down, one breathe every two strokes. It was all so overwhelming. When the short sporadic whistles sounded, I tightened my goggles and made sure there was no way they would ever be leaving my face. The long whistle sounded. As I took the two steps up onto the block all of the screams and chants slowly faded into a muffled noise. And then silence. The pressure to win was like wanting something so badly that is set right in front of you, but is absolutely impossible to reach. That is how much this really means to me. Swimmers take your mark. The buzzer screamed as I leaped from the block. Finally underneath the surface of the water, in perfect streamline position, thinking to myself “there is no backing out of this now”. As I broke the surface and took my first breath and stroke, every time my head came above the water I heard the chants of my team cheering me on. I was a fish in water. That is where I belonged. When the third length came I knew it was going to be brutal. Coach always told us to work our third length like it was our first. We all know that the first we always work the hardest on and then the third we tend to slack off. However I worked that third length and finished that race in second place with a time of 1:31.27. I dropped 15 seconds on one race. Not even 1 second away from coming in first. Coming in second did not mean for me what others may think. It gives me something to work for now. A new time to beat. My time as well as my competitor’s. Now a 1:31.27 isn’t even close to the school record or state record but honestly that really doesn’t matter to me. I mean, yeah, of course I would love to have my name written in black and white on the record board for everyone to see, and who knows? Maybe someday my name will be up there? But for right now, that second place feels so good. It gives me something to fight for. It’s my reason to suffer through vomit worthy practices, screaming coaches, long distant sets, short but never ending sprint sets, six days a week two hour practices. But with all of that comes the satisfaction of beating my time. It’s my passion in life to attend every vomit worthy practice and finish every distant set so someday that second place will turn into a first. But for now, that second place gives me something to reach for. Because that wall will always be in my reach, now I must reach a little faster next time.