Kicking for State
Written in March of 2012 (Anonymous)

            I heard screams of “kick, kick, kick!” The words ran together, but I somehow made sense of them. When my fingertips touched the wall, my body felt lifeless.

            It was a pleasantly warm summer day. I was at the Mitchell swim meet. My last chance to qualify for State. If I failed today, I would be the only one chewing myself out. This was IT. I had been practicing harder than ever and I knew, by looking at the times of the other swimmers, that if I wanted to qualify, I would have to win the heat. When I heard the first call for my event, I sighed and walked over to the blocks.

            Finally, it was the third heat. The sun had gone behind a cloud and the breeze had picked up a little. The direction of the wind was in my favor, so that would help me swim. I looked over to the spectators, parents, coaches, friends, and other swimmers sitting in lawn chairs and on bleachers. The heavy scent of chlorine was in the air, but I was no longer fazed by it, having been swimming in chlorinated water the entire summer.

            I stood on my block. I was so nervous I could almost taste it, and I had to try to stop myself from shaking. My heart was beating so fast I thought it would leap out of my chest. Adrenaline was definitely present in my system. I hoped my shoulder and legs would hold out for me, seeing as I had slight tendonitis in my right shoulder, and my legs were already beginning to feel like jelly.

            I bent down, tensed my grip on the rough block, and pulled myself backward a bit. When I heard the long, high-pitched beep, I dove over the swimmer from the previous heat and into the cool water.

            I kicked. I don’t have much arm strength. I knew I would have to kick. I circled my arms as fast as I could, pulling the water, urging me forward. But I kicked like there was no tomorrow. I’m a runner. I have leg strength. Kicking, I could do.

            I touched the wall and instantly went limp, though my breathing was labored. I had no idea how I placed, but I knew it was close. I heaved myself up out of the pool, feeling dizzy, and walked over to my coach, Ellie Reynen.

            “You did it.” She said. “You qualified.”