First turn. ‘Where did he go?’ Timothy was gone. ‘No way…’
Second turn. I can see his kicking. ‘I’m coming after you.’ My muscles were dying. My lunges were burning.
Third turn…‘rib cage’…
Look at the board… Lane 4 2nd 46.32… ‘Did I…get…first?’
Lane 5 3rd 46.38…‘Third!?! What is happening? Who got first?”
Lane 3 1st 46.20…Jeremy??? ‘WHAT!?!’
Confusion was an understatement. ‘How did I lose to Jeremy?’ I remember where I am, I accept Timothy’s handshake; then I peel myself out of the pool. I needed to
cooldown and figure out what went wrong…
I have no way of knowing, how long I have been swimming for. I was at least no longer sore. Still confused though…I did everything Coach has trained me to do. I put everything I had into that race. I was focused. I… I had no clue…
I grabbed my towel and was heading back to Coach; awaiting the dreaded talk. ‘Wait? How did Jerry do in the hundred freestyle? What event are they on now?’ As I made it to Coach’s chair: I peeked around the coaches’ heads and saw breaststroke…? ‘It’s already the last event?’ Coach, Jenny, and Brit were all cheering and intensely watching Ken swim. ‘Ken!?’ I forgot everything and rushed back behind Ken’s lane. The whole team was there cheering him on. Two more laps. “Come on Ken!” I yelled for my bud. He was kicking butt and taking names. A few teammates turned at the sound of my voice, but quickly returned their gaze on what was important.
“Go!… Go!… Go!” We all yelled in tempo with him as he continued to push through the water. ‘Only a few more strokes…’ “Go Ken!”
‘This.’ This is what I was missing. It wasn’t my meet. It was our meet. I should have treated this meet the same as all my previous competitions. Try, but don’t take the fun out of it. I was too focused. I should have raced myself…not lane four or lane three… I should have chased down a faster version of myself in my own lane. That’s probably what Jermey did, and that’s why he won. Touch! Ken had gotten 1st in his heat, but we would have to wait for the results to see what he got overall. The team dispersed and I made my way back over to Coach’s chair. Wednesday meet was finished. I needed to own up to my mistake.
Without talking, Coach and I looked at each other. I nodded. Then Coach nodded in return. Nothing more was said about my mistake. He read off my splts. I was surprised that I actually dropped two tenths of a second; however, Coach said I should be at a low forty-five on Friday. “Thanks Coach,” I turn to go hang with the guys and the rest of the team.
“George,” Jenny grabbed my wrist and stopped me, “Good job today!”
Based on her face, she expected more than a quick nod or rushed answer, “Thanks Jenny,” I smiled and stayed by her. Which was perfect timing because here came Ken.
“Good job Bro!” I lightly slap Ken on the back. ‘He must be dead after swimming the hardest event, at least to me.’
“Thanks Bro. Coach do you know my overall place yet?” Ken asked as he commendeered some of my towel.
I just gave in and handed him the towel. I wasn’t about to share this small towel between two teenage guys. ‘That would just be too weird.’
“Not yet. Jenny. Go check and see if the results are posted,” Jenny left quickly. Coach read off Ken’s splits.
Jenny had came back and she quietly told Coach the results. He nodded with no expression. “Well Ken. I am sorry to inform you, but you were disqualified.”
“What? No way. I was legal…” Ken started to protest.
“You got third overall,” Coach sat down, with a smirk plastered on his face.
I held in the laughter. Ken seemed to have not register what Coach had said yet. Jenny and I stared at Ken waiting for the light bulb to go off…
“Oh! Coach. Not cool. I almost had a heart attack,” Ken was not amused. But then gradually a smile crept onto his face. “Sweet Third!”
“That took him a while…” Jenny started to giggle.
“Ken is nitorious for not actually listening,” I laughed while dodging the side jab from Ken. I grabbed Jenny’s waist and pulled her towards me and away from Ken’s unexpected second jab.
“What? Oh, thanks,” Jenny said as my hand fell off of her.
“Well you two get changed. I want to be on the road as soon as possible,” Coach began gathering up his belongings, but leaving his chair. “Jenny take this to the bus,” Coach handed Jenny his bag, “I’ve got to go say goodbye to some officals.”
“Here. Give the bags,” taking Coach’s and Brit’s bag from Jenny’s shoulder; leaving her only to carry hers. “I’ll help carry these to the team spot.” Without waiting for arguing, I start walking. Jenny must have speed-walked to catch up, so we walked together to the waiting team.