Courtesy: Teri Lynne Nelson
Not Humanly Possible!
These are the words that popped up on my screen after I entered my estimated time for the 25-meter butterfly swim competition (fondly called “the “fly” in swimmer’s language).
I knew immediately I had done something terribly wrong and there was no going back. I stared at the screen and started to sweat.
“Not humanly possible”— what does it even mean? Timid and apprehension fell over me like a wave. I was already nervous filling out the form online and then I get this message. I felt defeated and I haven’t even hit the water yet. I forged on until I read the message “application submitted successfully“.
The event assigns you in the same “heat” as other swimmers of your caliber. These swimmers race together but in the end, all athletes compete against their age group
I was definitely in the wrong heat. This heat consisted of world record holders and record-holder wannabes. I did not fall into either of these categories. My first clue was that the women all had muscular arms and they all looked very, very serious. I looked scared. Scared like hearing someone sneeze on a crowded plane.
I could smell the chlorine and tried to concentrate on the sun glistening at the bottom of the pool. I tried to think positively and dwell on the fact that is an opportunity to be with swimmers who are better than me….an opportunity for growth.
The race began. I swam harder and faster than I ever had. I heard my coach’s voice in the stands as well as in my head. Keep your fingers together, touch with one hand only, When I finished with my 25-meter fly and I got to the other side of the pool, I was exhausted.
I looked around and I realized I was all alone in the pool. I heard nothing but the splash of the water. Even the high schoolers that cheer the swimmers on were gone. I felt all eyes on me. I jumped between blended emotions; embarrassment and pride. Both equally as strong.
I swam over to the ladder and climbed out. Knees shaking, lips blue, I took a bow and received a standing ovation.
I found out later I had done really well and was awarded 3rd place in my age group. Not bad for a 68-year-old woman attending her first swim meet ever. I felt like a butterfly spreading their wings for the first time.
In the shower, I cried unexpectedly—out of pure joy. It wasn’t about the 3rd place but just the fact that I HAD ACTUALLY DONE IT!
I wasn’t sure if it was humanly possible.
Teri Lynne Nelson (TL) is a new writer and a new competitive swimmer. This is not her first publication—TL has been a sales manager for Lakeshirts for the past 25 years. She created and wrote a weekly rep update to provide reps with information as well as motivation. The rep update was required reading which resulted in a captive audience. She swims once a day and does her best thinking while doing laps.