Not Humanly Possible!

by SwimSwam Contributors 4

November 16th, 2023 Lifestyle

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.

About Teri Lynne Nelson

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.

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18 days ago

That was really bad form from your competitors, everyone should stay in the pool until the race is over. Congrats on your race.

My daughter swims distance and has waited patiently 3-4 minutes sometimes in the mile cheering everyone in as they finished. Maybe its a masters thing to be rude?

Elsa Nystrom
18 days ago

Enjoyed your story. I hope to emulate you in 24 if I can stay healthy as an 87 year old beginner, tho probably not in fly.,LOL Just couldn’t get up the nerve to enter a meet yet, feel like an impostor after years of runnning and gym stuff. Howeverk a double hip replacement ended that, and I took up water aerobics. which is fun but not very competitive. Never learned to swim correctly depite spending much time at meets with my 7 kids. Lost my husband 2 years ago to cancer and I needed a challenge. After much thought, decided to go for it. It was easy to learn to swim but learning to swim well and reasonably fast is… Read more »

Tea rex
18 days ago


18 days ago

Thats a great story. Feels good to do well. Open those fingers a little actually. You’ll get more distance per stroke.