400 IM David S.

400 Individual Medley

As soon as my feet left the block they snapped together. I took a large breath of air right before I hit the cool water. I entered the pool with a small splash. My body didn’t react to the water at all; I couldn’t feel it. It was like a temporary invincibility. However, it didn’t last long.

I remembered each and every start that my coach had made me do--each and every sprint. That water hadn’t been as cold; it wasn’t at a meet.

I kicked as fast as I could as my coach had taught me. Jim had taught me almost all I know. As I started my breakout my arms rose out of the water as my face stayed in it.

The first time I swam the butterfly, I loved it. I hate it now. I had gotten fourth in the 50 fly at my first meet. But everything was so easy back then--not so much now.

My arms started to hurt right after the first 25. My turn: thrust my elbow; shoot my arm back past my head; push off. My second streamline, seven dolphin kicks. My breath is running out.

I remembered the breathing exercise that I did on Tuesday morning practice; my chest hurt. Then and now. My chest ached for air. “Self control,” I told myself. I was close to the wall, the end of my fly. I had been tired a 50 ago.

I turned into my backstroke. Three more hundreds. Sigh. My body ached. I was in pain. Kick. Kick. Kick. This was the longest swim I had ever done outside of practice. And the hardest. Water rushed up my nose through my streamline, but I was so tired I didn’t care. My break out was painful, not in my shoulders but in my legs. They already hurt, but this was worse.

I remembered the kick set that we had done the night before. That had hurt, but not this bad. My team did kick sets often, this still hurt though. I hated the kick sets that we did at practice but I knew that I had to do them.

I counted from the flags in one, two, three. Turn onto my stomach. Flip. Go.

I recalled the time that my old coach, Sam, had taught my team how to do a backstroke flip-turn. “Count in from the flags” she had said. Every time we did them I was bored. At least it wasn’t hard.

I continued to focus on my kick. I was still in pain and the intense work wasn’t helping. I started to slow down, but then I thought to myself, “What would I do if I didn’t get the state cut?” It was my goal for the season to get qualifying times for all the events at State. Few swimmers on my team had done it and I wanted it. Bad.

When my teammate, Rially, missed getting all of the state cuts by just one event, it stirred my competitive spirit. I wanted to accomplish the goal more than I’d ever wanted anything. I needed qualifying times for six more events to get the whopping 17 state cuts. If I got the 400 I.M., I’d be down to five.

As I finished my backstroke, I leaned into my bottom shoulder and quickly flipped over onto my stomach and started my underwater pull out. One dolphin kick, pull my arms down to my sides and kick up into a streamline position.

I looked back on the time at the Natatorium where I had seen one of these underwater pullouts. This was new to me. I asked Coach Jim about it. “Yeah, we just haven’t taught it yet,” he said.

I was on my breaststroke now. People said that I had good technique on my breaststroke. Truth be told, I didn’t; I was just fast. My 100 breaststroke time was the best on the team. So was my 50.

Breaststroke was my favorite. Every time I swam it early on, I’d been disqualified, but once I got it down, I got first most times I swam it. Then I got my first state cut in the 50 breast. I didn’t just get it; I beat the qualifying time by two seconds. Then I beat the cut for the 100 breast by 7 seconds.

I was at my turn, I grabbed the wall with two hands and thrust my elbow back, ran my hand past my ear, and pushed off the wall. This was my last 25 on my best stroke. I had to make it count. “Stroke, stroke, stroke,” my coach's words rang through my head. Stroke, stroke stroke.

I turned onto my stomach and started a three kick streamline and began my break out.

My body was in pain; I needed to keep going, I needed that state cut. I kicked as hard as I could. I went into my final flip turn and sprinted to the finish.

5:14.95 against a qualifying time of 5:46.19.

Qualified.

Just five more to go.

Individual Medley. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2017. <http://assets5.tribesports.com/system/challenges/images/000/000/464/original/20110331184518-200m-individual-medley-swimmingsub-3-mins.png>.

Ocsc. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2017. <https://www.teamunify.com/cswsocsc/_images/teamlogo_600_1397097764869.jpg>.

Pool Image. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2017. <http://rcasey.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/wp_photo_seller/400/306hc9gtpk/G0040272.jpg>.

Splash. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2017. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Splash_(fluid_mechanics).jpg>.

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