Tenacity and Character Building- 3 mins
As a child, I never learned how to swim and always loved to watch people swim in the Olympics. In high school, my science teacher was the coach for our school’s swim and water polo teams. I asked her if it was ok for me to join even though I didn’t know how to swim. She said that the first week is free swim and when the season starts, everyone would be separated into scrimmage, JV (Junior Varsity), and varsity. In JV, the coach goes over all the strokes so I wouldn’t have to worry. I’d join scrimmage and would learn how to swim. The first week was free swim, and, after watching a ton of YouTube videos on how to do freestyle, I kept on swimming laps. My science teacher would stop by and give me pointers on how to improve my technique a couple times every day, and, eventually, I could swim multiple laps continuously. When the first season started, there were about 10 or so people in scrimmage and we all swam in a loop. I was the last in line because I am the slowest. Often, the first swimmer would be at my feet and would accidentally scratch the bottom of my feet. Every time I felt a scratch, I would push myself to swim harder and faster so I wouldn’t get lapped. My hard work paid off. As the season went on, I went from last in scrimmage to first and the JV coach who had originally dismissed me started to pay more attention to me and give me more instruction on how to improve. By the end of the season, he asked if I want to try competing in a race and I felt that I wasn’t ready because I haven’t mastered flip turns and diving. He said that it was alright and worked on that with me quite a bit. By the end of my first swim season, I was fast enough to join JV and was beating quite a few of them as well during our scrimmages. My mother often asked me throughout this first season, if I should give up because everyone a well-seasoned swimmer from swim clubs. I told her no, and that only made me want to keep pushing harder to improve my technique. I spent days pouring over books and the internet on technique, changes in swim styles over the years, how the water matters, and the optimal diet. I’m proud to say that by the end of my sophomore year, my swim times would have allowed me to compete in the Junior Olympics! The sense of accomplishment from day after day of dedicating myself to being in the pool regardless of the weather, how much homework I had to do when I got home, and everything else happening in my life, was unparalleled to anything I have ever felt before. This is the kind of person I am. I may have had a disadvantaged start, but that won’t deter me from reaching my goals and accomplishing more than what I had intended. I chose this story in particular because it was one of my earliest accomplishments that shaped my character and proof to myself that it doesn’t matter when you start or whether or not you have had an advantageous background — what matters is how much work and effort you put into it and whether or not you can walk away from it saying that you gave it your best.