Can failure be a good influence on our lives? Sure, success is important, but failure can be just as or even more important than success. As a current high school student, I’ve experienced many successes and failures in my life. The successes have been great, but it is the failures that have taught me the greatest lessons. When you fail at something, you’re forced to analyze what you did wrong. You are forced to think about what you could have done differently so it wouldn’t have gone wrong. We ask ourselves this question almost every time we fail. Why is it that the failures are more thought-provoking than the successes? This semester, I experienced failure in a way that I never thought possible. One technical failure changed my life in a way that I will never forget.
I am a competitive swimmer. I train twice a day, every day, six days a week. I am no stranger to failure. From adding time to flawed turns, I’ve had my fair share of mistakes in the pool. This year, however, failure reached my life in a new way. This was supposed to be my year. My senior year, my last year as a high school swimmer. I had never been faster. My times were continually dropping and I was already far ahead of where I was last year. Until the day I royally messed up.
Every year, my team attends a huge meet called MISCA, held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, four hours away from where I live. You have to qualify to go, and I did individually, along with a few relays that also qualified. I was extremely excited to go, as I was ranked pretty high in my events. At the meet, I had a sense of calm that I never feel when I’m about to race. It felt strange, but I brushed it off. I stepped onto the blocks for my first race, the 50 yard freestyle. The race began, and that’s when it all went wrong. As I dove into the pool, I made an error. A small error, but it had a huge effect. My hands didn’t make it together all the way, and I hit the water hard with no anchor to keep my hands in place. My left arm jolted back. I started to swim back up, but my arm wouldn’t move. I ended up dislocating my shoulder and had to be taken in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. I had to get x-rays and stay for a long time in the hospital. When I was discharged, I was told to meet with a specialist to see if I had any internal injuries. The x-rays I had were clear. After that, I needed to get an MRI done to see if I had any damage to my ligaments or cartilage in my shoulder. The wait was about two weeks, but I couldn’t swim during that time, and I had little hope that I would return. When I met again with my doctor I had good news and bad news. The bad news was that I had torn my labrum, which would need surgery. The good news was that I could swim the rest of my season, with extra added caution.
My return to the pool didn’t go as I had hoped. My shoulder felt wrong, and my movements felt unnatural. I felt, well, like a failure. I couldn’t get myself to bring my pace above a warm-up pace, and I was getting frustrated with the fact that I was in a completely different state than I was three weeks ago. One day, I became so angry that I just started to speed up. I didn’t even realize that I was doing it until I stopped at the wall and heard all of my teammates cheering for me. That was the moment that I knew that sometimes you have to push through the pain of failure to find success. I ended up competing in my conference championships and the state meet with a torn labrum, neither with stellar results, but it didn’t matter.
I found that success isn’t always placing high or getting best times, but pushing past the odds and doing what others never thought you could do. Failure isn’t always the end. Failure leads to rising when we fall. Failure leads to defying the odds and doing what nobody thought you could. Failure can lead to success.
Kiara Bromley is a senior at Onekama High School who swims for Manistee High School. She is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and is planning to swim in college.