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This morning is the start of one of the biggest swim meets of the year, the West Virginia High School State Championship in Morgantown, WV. As I gather my suits and walk out of the hotel, a blast of cold February air hits me. Walking to my car through the crisp white snow freezes my toes. The car instantly warms us up as we drive over to the natatorium. The whole drive over I’m thinking about my competition and winning the state championships four years in a row. We met up with the rest of the team as we huddle onto the pool deck together. In just a few moments, I’ll be swimming for my team to help win the most important meet of the season.
Warm ups are getting ready to start so my parka comes off making the hair on my arms stand straight up since it was cold. My clothes quickly get shoved in my bag as I grab my cap and goggles. Not having worn my GWHS cap in two months, I had to take time to pry it open since the latex had been stuck together for so long. I wrapped my swim cap around my head and fasten my goggles. I slide in the pool and embrace even colder water. Since I have to enter feet first, the cold water rushes from my toes to the top of my head. I push off the wall and start swimming freestyle. With every pull you can feel the resistance of the water on the forearm trying to push it back to where it was before. As I swim more, I catch up to the person in front of me seeing the bubbles and white water splashes they’re making with their feet. When warm ups are over, I climb out of the pool and onto the block for dive starts. Slowly bending over with one foot in front as I wrap my fingers around the slick, red pedestal, I wait for the official to sound the buzzer. I push off the block with the foot in front of me and lunge into the pool. My arms, in streamline position next to my ears and over my head, enter the water first breaking the surface. Sprinting down to the other end, I hop out and walk across the slimy wet floors to sit and wait for the first event.
The 100 meter butterfly is the starting event. I grab my cap and foggy goggles and walk over to the block. Watching the girl before me swim into the wall, I start to jump and dance to loosen up my muscles before the race. I eagerly step up on the block and get into position. Diving in, I immediately feel the cold, chlorinated water engulf my body. My body breaks the surface of the water AndI start to swim as fast as I can. Throughout my 100 Butterfly I can feel my shoulders rotate so they can bring my arms out of the water and then pull it behind my body. As I sprint to the finish, my arms reach out to jolt into the timer pad. I bounce back and look at the blaring red clock that shows our times. The red flashes before my eyes where it reads, “1:03.94”; my fastest time yet. As I congratulate the swimmers beside me, I struggle getting out of the pool. I try catching my breath since I’m panting like a dog in the heat. I’m greeted by my coach and close friends who tackle me with hugs. I look around to see parents cheering in the crowd as well as younger swimmers marveling at us older kids. To them, we look like Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky.
As I go to pack up and change into comfortable warm clothing, I step in the shower to wash all of the chlorine off of my skin. I mix Tang and my coconut scented shampoo together and wash my hair. As the orange and coconut mix, its smell reminds me of a tropical island. On the other hand, the chlorine that is coming out smells like a chemistry lab exploded. I rinse off and wrap myself in a warm dry beach towel. As I switch the towel for baggy clothes, I feel an instant relief of being clean and not drenched in chlorinated water. Although being covered in sticky chlorine is not the best feeling, I wouldn’t give up swimming for the world.
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