Shouts From The Stands: The Perfect Race – A Narrative Visualization

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]

This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Devin Hurst, a 15-year-old swimmer for the Tampa Bay Aquatic Club (TBAC).

It all starts with three whistles that make you have to remind yourself to keep breathing. Two whistles. Get up on the block and place your feet.

“Take your mark,” the muffled voice of the official that lives in their all-white uniform.

You reach your hands down and get into a track-start position, with your right foot placed on the wedge behind you. Just as you think it’s go time, the referee calls to, “stand please” and “swimmers relax.” But from a few lanes down you hear one of your competitors plunge into the water, accepting sudden defeat. Your heart starts racing, but you take a few deep breathes as your fallen competitor struggles to get out of the pool.

Before you can get into your thoughts anymore, the two whistles sound again. This time, it’s for real. You take your mark and have time for one last steady, deep breath as your toes curl over the edge of the block and you see the blue, chilly, yet beautiful pool of water; the life supporting element.

You hear the beep that you’ve been yearning for, and without hesitation, you launch like a rocket into the chlorinated solution of H2O.

You see the comforting sights of bubbles and water rushing past you, as you begin dolphin kicking to the surface. You take six kicks, as you’ve visualized hundreds of times before. As you break the threshold of the water, you can hear the deafening cheers, booming through the Long Center that night.

After taking three butterfly strokes, without breathing, you lift your head slightly so that your chin is gliding along the water. You fall into a pattern of breathing every other stroke for five strokes, to which you have hit the first wall. You drive your knees into your chest, and you transition into your next length of the 25 yard pool. You take four dolphin kicks this time and fall into the rhythm you set for yourself.

As your swimming the next 75 yards of fly, you can hear your coach shouting encouragement and your teammates are going crazy. With each breath you press your chest down and kick your legs harder then you’ve ever kicked before. Your mind thinks of all the sets you’ve done to prepare yourself for this moment. As you begging to approach the wall, you survey to see that you’re even with the competitors around you which is right where you need to be as you transition to the next stroke. But as you’re just under the flags, a rogue wave comes tumbling into your mouth, but this can’t phase you. This has happened plenty of times before. You remain calm.

You make the smooth transition to backstroke after taking five underwater dolphin kicks. You begin rotating your hips, kicking your legs and digging your arms through the water, forcing it to move at your will. Five feet into the flags and you flip onto your stomach long enough so your legs can fling over yourself and begin the trip bag to the other wall. After three more kicks off the wall, you continue the pattern for the next 65 yards.

You begin to feel the familiar pain that has struck you many times at practice. You see the flags, that hint your backstroke journey is over. You feel your hand touch the wall and you backflip, so you can efficiently and legally get into your breaststroke.

Your challenger next to you is about two body lengths ahead after you come up from your pullout. After nine strokes you hit the first wall half a body length behind. You push off the wall taking a powerful dolphin kick, that flings you forward. At the next wall, you’re over a body length ahead and as you finish your most strongest stroke a 50 later, you’re almost three seconds ahead of the whole field.

You push off the wall to begin the final journey of freestyle. You take three hue kicks off each wall and 16 strokes, as your legs are moving as if a shark is coming after you. You put your head down for the final five strokes, as you touch the wall.

You glance up at the scoreboard, and the pain begins rushing in along with the emotions, because you just smashed your goal.

As you struggle out of the calming pool, you begin walking over to your coach, your teammates come up to congratulate your achievement.

You walk up to your coach and fist pump them, but as you begin going over your race you know you have only brushed the surface on what is, the perfect race.


Devin Hurst is a 15-year-old living in Tampa, Florida and currently swimming for the Tampa Bay Aquatic Club (TBAC) under Coach Susan Curnutte. Devin is going into tenth grade at Alonso High School where she swims for Class 4A. Her favorite events are the 400 IM, 200 breast, and during the high school season, she swims the 500 free and the 100 breast. Her favorite swimmers are Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, and Cody Miller.

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Mike Myers god father of Devin
5 months ago

Awesome and yes I felt like I was in the pool swimming with you! Fantastic read thank you for your perspective of swimming and loving the finish!