The meet went pretty much as planned. Our B and C relay teams did the first relay. They did as Coach said earlier, “Home Pride,” and defeated the B and C teams of Mountain High like it was nothing. Jerry and the guys were actually beginning to believe their sarcastic words from earlier; believing we would actually win. As individual events go, today’s meet was different than most; the events were our off events, because Coach didn’t want us to use up or great race at this meet. So Matthew and I exchanged events, while Ken and Jerry exchanged.
It was weird to be swimming a backstroke event, and it will probably be my last time based on what Coach said afterwards, “That was interesting? It’s a good thing that it is not your normal race.”
‘I am good never swimming it again’; Matthew is crazy for liking that race. Still, this exchange did make it well worth it, to see Ken struggle and die in Jerry’s normal five-hundred event. It was priceless.
Jenny and Brit were doing as I had suggested; they would help Coach in anyway he needed. This was the first meet where I’ve seen Coach so relaxed.
Our medley relay had been in the middle of the meet. That event was piece of cake to win. Even though Jeremy’s gang talks a big talk, they don’t have enough to beat us at our specialty strokes. But that wasn’t the relay that decided my fate; the four-hundred freestyle relay did. Each person, four laps, racing to the end. And naturally it is the last race of the meet.
Since my last race was not too long ago and the relay is coming up, I’ve been staying in the cooldown pool. Jerry and the guys had jumped in with me a moment ago, but they did a quick warm-up; now they were stretching behind our lane. Normally this was where the pressure would be beginning to build, but instead I know I cannot lose. My future, Jenny’s reputation, Coach’s pride, the guys, my dad, anyone I care about is depending on me. That pressure is motivation. ‘No one is stopping me. No one.’
I decided enough was enough, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Climbing out of pool, I see Jeremy and his gang were about to enter. ‘Good’ I don’t want to be anywhere near him; just because, he knows he is screwed and would try anything to stop me. ‘Ignore them. They aren’t worth it. Walk away.’
“So you really do believe that you will be winning?” snickered Jeremy as I walk by him.
“I don’t know what you see in her. She is just a mediocre girl. Is she really worth throwing your future away for? Are you so desperate to be her boyfriend that you will attempt to prove your feelings through trying to defend her.” This time is was Brian.
‘Fight the urge. Settle it in the pool. Ignore. But maybe walk faster.’
“Yeah maybe he likes girls like her. Maybe his type is…”
Turing around. Thankfully I was a distance from him, so I could not do anything damaging. “Shut up Jeremy. Let’s settle this in the pool. You game? Or afraid?” I turned away and headed to my guys. Not wanting to hear his stupid comeback. ‘It’s on.”
It’s time…The order was as always, Matthew, Ken, Jerry, then me. I was always last; the anchor. Which means I am handed all the pressure of winning. I like the pressure!
“Beep, beep, beep,” the ref blew his whistle to signal us to the blocks. Jeremy and his gang were in lane next to us. It was fitting that Jeremy was also anchor; I will be leaving him behind with only his bad attitude as company. Continuing to stretch and warm my muscles up, I search for Coach; finding him I see the nod of approval. That is what I must always see before a race. To his right stood Jenny; she looked hopeful but also worried. Hopefully my reassuring nod gave her some hope. ‘Don’t worry Jenny; I won’t be losing this one.’
The long whistle brought me back to the race. Matthew had stepped onto the block. We knelt around him. Silence filled the deck.
“Take your mark….BEEP,” Matthew was off!
Matthew did his job. He gained a small lead. Touch…and Ken was off. Ken was the one to be nervous about; he only swims freestyle on relays. All he had to do was keep up with our competitor or only fall a little behind…No…’Come on Ken!’ I yelled in my head conserving my energy.
Touch…Jerry left. Thankfully we were only two arm lengths behind, but that distance could be the difference. However, all the motivation I have built up inside me, no distance can defeat me. Stepping onto the block. ‘Come on Jerry. Catch me up.’
One stroke. Two. Three…touch…GO! I was only a smidge behind Jeremy when I dove in. One lap at a time. ‘I WILL win.’ At the fifty mark we are tied, but sadly for Jeremy I am not done yet. Time to leave Jeremy behind. ‘See ya after the race.’ Flip-turn. One lap left. This was no longer a race against him, but myself. One. Two. Wall…