Write a story involving an Olympic sport.
I feel ashamed to say it, but I hate swimming.
It didn't start off as a dream or a realization that this is what I was called to, it was just something that slowly took over my life to get me here today.
When I was five I was wading in my Aunts pool and she was going on and on about her fat little angel, Thomas, my cousin who had just learned how to do something called the freestyle.
Thomas chopped at the water with his fat arms and was missing the chance to glide - something I showed him, in satisfaction. I beat my fat cousin across the pool, and my aunts and uncles were dumbfounded, to say nothing of my mom, who was almost in tears.
I held on to the pool side, panting and dripping, and revelling in the power I had over all of them.
At five, I went into swim classes, where the teachers would give us ice pops when we even made it across the pool. There was no challenge and I said so, making Robert, the head coach laugh his eyeballs out.
Robert later made my mom an offer she couldn't refuse: he would give me private lessons if she would give him her phone number.
Two years later, I was swimming laps with Robert daily and he and my mom were scheduled to do a lap around the altar. They made a pretty cool couple, but a lot of what they talked about was my potential. My times. My ability to go all the way.
We had a home with a heated pool outside; we all soon moved into a complex with an olympic sized pool where there were lots of kids. It was like Disneyland for swimmers. I had to get up before school, swim laps until seven, do my hair and then walk to school, which was about eight blocks away.
At school everyone was stupid and liked music that seemed to talk about their humps and what are you going to do with my humps and they danced and carried on. Even my teachers were kind of boring and nervous around me, asking me about my times and which stroke I preferred and they didn't want to hear things like how I wanted to something else, I just didn't know how to.
I met an arrogant prick at the pool one day named Roger, who had a six pack and green hair from the chlorine and he told me my shoulders were bigger than his. I said, "Shut up," but I couldn't say it very loud. All I could think was that if I swam faster than him, I would feel better, but he'd never ask me out.
Roger would train with me in the morning and watch me swim like Robert did, but Robert warned me not to bother with him.
"At the worst, he wants to get into your pants - but he probably wants to throw off your game." Robert never really asked me how I felt, and I guess I didn't know how I did either. In any case, I left the midnight thoughts of Roger behind and decided to train with weights.
Weight training was at fifth period and then after school, before swimming. I eventually gave up the class and trained only at the gym with my mom and Francois, my trainer. He told me I was a lean, mean machine that would not lose. I told him to keep the pep talk, I was good enough to defeat anyone, and I knew it.
Competitions on the scholastic level were a joke and the local community college tried to woo me to an invitational, where I met George - the wrinkled leather face who understood me. He spoke to me without asking Robert or my mom, and asked me if I were serious about my training.
"What is training?" I thought. Swimming was my life; my identity. It had crawled over me like kudzu in the middle of the night and had choked every other thought and activity out of me. I didn't care really how much I trained, I just wanted to win - to beat all of the fat cousins through the water and make it to the other side where I was valued.
I thought of that moment yesterday, my passport in my hand as I went through customs. The last two years were travel and training and diet and sacrifice, and I lost my smile somewhere and I wanted it back. It had to have been somewhere outside of the pool, where the water was getting colder and colder.
Yesterday, in customs line, I thought of quitting after I had the medal. My ranking wasn't anywhere near a favorite, so maybe people would say I was too young and just wait until next time, but I wanted to escape the pool. I wanted to ski down a mountain with my pot-smoking boyfriend who weighed three hundred pounds and ate nachos. He would tell me I was beautiful no matter what.
"Here for the games?" the perky customs official smiled at me.
"Yes," I said, nodding.
"What events are you watching?" she scanned my bar code, then gasped. "Oh, how daft of me! You're the American swimmer!"
"Yes," I said.
"Good Luck!" she said, a little embarressed.
And as I cleared her line, I heard George behind me, saying "She doesn't need luck, she is a true champion."
And I wondered how long I would be holding on to the edge of the pool, dripping and watching the clock to see how good I really was.