There are two irrefutable rules of high school:
1) Most teens want to be like all other teens (although they won’t outright admit to this) and
2) Athletes are the least likely group on the adolescent food chain to get pushed into trashcans.
And so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that my sophomore year of high school I decided that it was my life dream to join the swim team. I was jealous of all the swimmers and their coordinated clothing days before meets, worn so that everyone knew they were part of a Team (besides, one time of being in the trashcan was enough for me!). My friend Roxana encouraged me to join her on the team.
Which brings me to two important facts about me.
1) I didn’t know how to swim.
2) I had very little shame.
I told my mom that I wanted to sign up for swim lessons, and then met with my cardiologist for clearance. When the night of my first swim lesson came, I was ready.
One-piece, grandma-shaped swimsuit? $20.
Neon yellow nose plug? $5.
Realizing my lesson was at the same time as the school team’s practice, on the other side of a full-length glass wall? Priceless.
My entire lesson I prayed no one would recognize me practicing putting my face in the water with the 8 year olds. No such luck. Mom begged me to quit after that first class, before I embarrassed myself further, but I was determined. Like I said…no shame.
The humiliation paid off and junior year I did indeed join the swim team. Physically, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It was the first time I was allowed to play a sport (albeit a very modified one) and I struggled to learn new skills that come easily to most people, like measured breathing and diving. But I kept at it because I was so excited to be on that team, bucking my old doctor’s prediction that I’d have to live a life of inactivity.
And you know what? I dropped 42 seconds from my 200-meter breaststroke that first season! At the end-of-season team banquet I was awarded the Most Improved trophy. That trophy is one of my most prized possessions and I keep it on a shelf in Menininho’s room. To me, it is tangible proof that with hard work we can accomplish almost anything we set our minds to.
Head on over to MamaKat’s for her weekly writer’s workshop; I’m doing prompt #1 today!