Our two-hundred relay was as expcted. Second place. It was not a best time for us, but we were at least happy with the place results.
Last race of the day… The four-hundred freestyle relay. Jerry and I were behind our lane. Timothy’s team was behind lane four, and Jermey’s team behind lane three. The showdown was about to commence. Matthew and Ken were both still in the cooldown pool; they just finished their last individual swims. Jerry was doing active stretching beside me. I was stretching, but my nerves were in check, whereas Jerry’s were not. Coach was walking towards us.
“Okay. You two, plus the other two, are repersenting the team in this relay. I pulled the other relay; because Tom thinks he twisted his ankle. Are you ready and pumped?”
Jerry and I looked at each other simitaniously, laughing we nodded. We were ready.
“George,” Coach turned to me, “I know I said to swim your own race, but this time is different. You are the anchor. Jerry,” Coach turned to Jerry, “you will need to catch up and give George the chance. Ken is going to be exhausted; you will need to gain him some distance. Then you, George, chase him down. Also, look…” Coach stopped and pointed off to the stands on the right.
I looked and saw what Coach meant. There was Dad. He was watching us intently. Realizing he had been seen, he sent a thumbs up and fist pump into the air for Jerry and me.
“You got it?” Coach knowing he just succeeded in giving me a boost of energy.
“Yes. I’m good to go, now!” with that Coach turned to leave but he paused.
“Let’s have a 1st next to our lane,” then coach left.
“Event fourty-two. Varsity boys four-hundred freestyle relay. Heat one,” the announcer said over the speaker.
“We are up next. Where are Ken and Matthew?” Jerry started to pace frantically.
I was starting to worry too, not as much as Jerry though. Just because Matthew was the first leg of the relay. I stood up to start my active stretching, but also to scan the deck looking for our other half of the relay. “There!” Matthew and Ken were almost to us.
“Sorry. I wasn’t really paying attention. I’m still kind of dead,” Ken said as he sat down on the deck.
“I noticed Ken was still swimming, so I brought him along. Get up Ken, we are up in less than a minute,” Matthew, along with Jerry and I pulled Ken back up onto his feet.
“Pull yourself together,” I stood in front on Ken! “The competion is eyeing you like you are a free meal. Do not give them an inch. Stand up!”
Ken stood upright and changed his tired expression to determined.
The annoucer called, “Heat two.”
‘That’s us!’ I pushed Matthew to the blocks. The long whistle brought him unto the block. “Take your mark…” ‘Give Ken a head start. Come on Matthew.’ “Beep!”
“Go Matthew,” Jerry and I screamed! Matthew was doing just what I wanted. Timothy’s team might be fast, but Matthew was faster than their lead guy. Turn. Matthew was an entire body length ahead of lane four. “GO!” Touch, Ken dove into the water. Matthew crawled out of the pool and laid down breathing hard.
‘Come on Ken!’ He needed to keep up or at least only fall behind a small smidge. Turn. ‘No…’ Ken was dead. He was still swimming fast, but he was really falling behind. Turn. Now Jermey’s relay was beating us, while Timothy’s was now a full body length ahead. “Come on Ken!” The rest of the team was down on the other end screaming their lungs out. Turn. One lap left.
“Jerry. I need you to get me closer. Chase him!” I said to Jerry just as he stepped on the block. “Come on dude,” Touch. Jerry dove.
‘He was doing it. He was chasing.’ “Go Jerry!” Turn. He was now neck and neck with Jeremy’s team. Turn. ‘Passing! Come on dude…give me a chance.’
“Go…Je..rr..y,” Matthew was up and trying to cheer.
‘This can’t be it.’ I turned to look at Coach; he nodded but I could see the worry behind his expression. ‘Not going to happen, Coach.’
Turn. Last lap. I climbed up on the blocks. It was now or never. We were still about half a body length behind lane four. Timothy dove in. ‘Chase!’ Three…Two…One…’Go!’
‘CHASE HIM DOWN,’ I screamed at myself! Turn. This was the moment that truly counts. Turn. I don’t know if my arms are still connected to my body anymore. Turn. I could see Timothy… ‘Stop breathing. Get to the wall! Go!’ I was at his waist…‘GO!’ Shoulder…