Making A Change

11 November 2018

Being only 11 years old, I walked into the Keller Natatorium. I became engulfed in the smell of chlorine and fast-paced chaos of a swim meet. It was my summer league swim team’s regional meet that I had attended before, numerous times. Yet, at this meet every year the outcome – of whether or not I would qualify for the state meet – was never predetermined.

I glanced down at my arm where my mom had carefully written my events, heats, and lane assignments in Sharpie. First up: my relay and best chance to qualify for state. Although I was only on the “B” relay for my team and the chance of my relay qualifying was still very slim, I cheered as loud as I could possibly cheer, swam as fast as I could possibly swim, and nervously watched as my final teammate came crashing into the wall. A 5th place popped up next to our lane number. Only the top 4 finishers would advance and qualify for state. After the race, I forced a fake smile as my parents ran up to hug me to mask my devastation. I pretended to listen to the meaningless words of encouragement from my coach saying how well I swam. Finishing well out of the top 4 in my following two individual events, I proceeded to go home in a sullen and defeated mood.

This disappointment led me to realize that I was the only one with the power to change the outcome and that I would make a change. The days of being an average summer league swimmer were over for me. The following fall, I decided to join a year- round USA Swimming swim team. It is a long two-hour round trip car ride to make it to practice everyday after school, but it was a sacrifice that my parents and I chose to make. This decision of commitment and sacrifice was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

My passion for the sport of swimming has never waned, and dedicating myself to push beyond my failures instead of wallowing in self-pity was one of the greatest life lessons I have learned. I have since continued to swim year round and the benefits have been tremendous. They range from what is seen on paper – the drastic time drops and never since failing to qualify for the summer league state meet – to learning responsibility, self-motivation, and how to be a good teammate.

Albert Einstein once said, “ Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I chose to make a change. I chose to take the initiative to make myself a better swimmer and more importantly – a better person – and will continue to do the same throughout my college years and the rest of my life.

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