Swimming to Success

By Matthew H., 7th Grade

July 2017

Pele, the famous soccer player, once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice.” I never realized this until I started swimming during the summer of 2015.

One day in late spring, my mom picked me up from school after what felt like hours.

“How was your Worldly Wise test?” my mom asked.

“Okay I guess,” I answered. My mom said nothing more and we drove on for a while until my mom started to talk again.

“I just want you to know that after school tomorrow you will have to head to the pool because I signed you up for the swimming team,” my mom told me. A million thoughts went through my head, like why didn’t she tell me before and why did I have to do it, but I didn’t want to argue because I still hadn’t seen how bad it was.

The first day of swimming was terrible. The coaches introduced themselves and told us the schedule of the summer and how everything was going to work. Every day after that we met them after school for practice. They told us that we would later meet in the mornings when summer started.

Days flew by with swimming every day. School was fun because we had parties, but right when school ended, my day was terrible. The first day of summer break finally arrived. I expected that it would be better because we could get practice done earlier in the day, but I was wrong. I woke up with my mother shaking my shoulder. I wondered why my mom had woken me up so early and that is when I remembered that I had swimming today. I started to complain about it, and my mom only said that I would have to do it after practice. Right after I got home I exclaimed, “The water was freezing cold, the coaches kept on yelling at us to hurry up, and we had to swim laps beyond counting!”

“Fine, Matthew. I will only let you quit swimming it you manage to get 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at the meets!” my mom said. I had to agree because that was the only way that I was able to quit swimming.

Every day since the beginning of summer break, we had to practice for meets that would eventually come up. I was used to getting up earlier, but waking up for the meets was nothing that I had expected.
One day, because I had a meet, I decided to set my alarm to around 4:30 am. It felt like I just went to sleep when my alarm went off, but my eyes still barely opened seeing that the sun wasn’t up yet. I felt limp, not wanting to do anything but lay in my bed. I wondered why my alarm was set so early, but that was when it struck me. I had a meet today, and it only felt like we started swimming a few days ago! I wished I had more time to practice, I probably would get last place or get disqualified. I felt so nervous that I wished I didn’t have to go. Why would the coaches put us on such a tight schedule?

“Matthew! Get up, or else you’ll be late for the meet!” My mom screamed from downstairs. My body slowly trudged out of bed. I walked downstairs having no energy at all just hoping that a miracle would save me. Sadly, nothing could help me, so I had to eat my breakfast and head towards the swimming pool.

“Hello Matthew! Please check in and write down your waves on your arm with this marker!” The woman at the front desk said. I took the marker and wrote my numbers. My arm tickled with the touch. I stood next to the pool to warm up, but waited for the most daring person to get in. The water was probably below freezing, so everybody stood around the pool with fear in their eyes waiting for their doom. The time had come, for all we heard was a ear piercing scream from the coaches to get in and get ready for the meet. Jumping into the water, we hoped that they finally decided to heat up the pool, but it seemed like the water would never ever become warmer. We loosened our muscles and waited for our waves. I had to stay there until 3 pm, for I had laps scattered throughout the day. I didn’t do really well, but I didn’t care, because I just wanted to get it over with.

Every day passed with practices and swim meets every weekend until school started. When school finally started and swimming ended, I was free. Soon enough though, summer started up again and so did swimming. I was going into 5th grade, and I realized that I didn’t want to keep doing it next summer, so I started to try harder. I found friends so that I could enjoy practices more. We had mini competitions during practice and we would see who could swim the fastest. These things would motivate me to try harder because it isn’t always fun to be last place every time. Whenever the coaches made us do laps, we just had to keep swimming for a certain time period. The more I laps I swam the more I improved. Finally all my hard work had paid off. The first meet came, and I got 3rd place! The coaches had obviously seen my improvement. Amazingly, I only wanted to get better at swimming and eventually quit, but I found it more enjoying because I was better. I got to beat other people, get ribbons, and I found out some things to do when I was at the meet.

“Matthew! Come here!” My mom screamed. I thought I was in trouble for a second.

“The swimming coach asked you to do a relay above your age group!” My mom told me. This was amazing! I had never ever felt so proud of myself for being able to compete above age group. My mom was also proud of me. It looked like we didn’t need any more arguing over swimming. She was happy that I managed to improve and how I followed what she said.

At the end of the summer, I earned so many top 3 finishes that my mom had decided to let me stop. Success! I had learned many things from those two years, like if you try your best, you will always be able to get something good out if it. I didn’t only master the skill of swimming in those two years, but I also mastered the art of working hard and never giving up.