On August 11 and 12, 2001, I was competing in 6 events at the local swim meet.
- 25 Free
- 25 Fly
- 25 Breast
- 25 Back
- 50 Free
- 100 I.M.
Yes, I know. That’s a lot of 25s, but I was 8. It was okay back then.
Anyways, I kind of had a rivalry with this other girl from a different team although I can’t remember her name or which team she was from. She competed in all 6 of my events and believe it or not, won the first 5 of them. I came in 2nd to her every time and I hated standing on the 2nd highest podium for the medal awards, trying to be proud of my silvers while she flaunted her golds.
Eventually, like the setting of a dramatic sports movie, it came down to the last race of the meet: the 25 Back.
The other 5 girls and I jumped into the pool to get set for the backstroke. By that point, I had pretty much resolved to place 2nd again; after seeing how the other 5 races had turned out, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Additionally, the backstroke was my weakest stroke.
The shot was fired and I threw myself backwards underwater. I don’t have an exact recollection of that race but I do remember watching the clouds roll by as I flailed my way down the length of the pool.
When I hit the finish mark, I took off my goggles and swim cap and climbed out of the pool. That’s when my dad told me I had…won. I looked back into the pool, into Lane 4 where my rival was staring daggers at me. Backstroke was my weakest stroke but I guess it was even weaker for her.
At the awards ceremony, I waited excitedly for my name to be called last, for me to take that first-place spot atop the podium for the first time in two days. As I proudly climbed the steps to my place with the sound of scattered applause in the background, I passed that girl slowly, taking my time. When I took my position on top of the podium, the girl whispered to me, “Finally.” Naturally, I ignored her. I received the coveted gold medal and waved it around to the crowd.
And that’s how the Great Swim Meet of 2001 ended.