AUGUST 20TH: Today’s a big day at the London pool- the swimming events are today! Good luck, and make Team USA proud.
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/History is written by the victors./
That is what is inscribed in the silver bracelet I am turning over in my hands, mindlessly running my fingers over the smooth metal.
/History is written by the victors./
The bracelet was given to me by my dad, after the Olympic trials, when I found out I was headed for London.
I return it to my wrist, swinging my legs out of bed at the same time.
I repeat the phrase to myself, half whispering it aloud.
It's reassuring somehow, and right now I could use some reassurance.
Today's the day.
Today's the day I swim for the U.S.A., in front of hundreds of people and thousands more television viewers.
Today's the day when I finally see if all the training, all the hard work, will actually pay off.
Today's the day I will try to prove myself a victor.
Needless to say, I'm a little nervous.
I step out of my bedroom and into the small kitchen where my roommate Clare is already seated.
"Hey" she greets cheerfully. "Ready for the big day?"
I snort at her. "Ready as I'll ever be. It's a big day for you too." and she nods thoughtfully.
She'll be swimming today as well, but a different event.
Today I'll be swimming the 400m free.
I glance at the clock. It's 8:17, and my race isn't until 10:30, but a shuttle is coming at 9 to take me and some fellow swimmers over to the Olympic pool.
There's a knock at the door, and when I pull it open, Francisco is standing there holding a bouquet.
"Don't you normally give people flowers /after/ the competition or whatever?" I ask with a laugh.
He smiles back. "Yeah, well, these are for luck. And so is this." he adds, pulling me in for a kiss.
"How'd your game go?" I ask as I pull him into the hotel room. "Mexico, right?"
"Brazil, actually." he corrects. "and we won, 4-2."
he waves at Clare and she gives him the 'sup nod before turning her gaze to me.
"You'd better get ready little missy, don't want to miss your train."
I nod. Missing my ride to the Olympic race would not be a good thing.
"Yeah, I've got to get some things together. Sorry to rush you out, but you will be there, right?" I ask Francisco.
"Wouldn't miss it." he replies, kissing me on the forehead.
"Now go get 'em."
"The women's 400 meter free will be starting in 15 minutes!" the announcement sounds through the pool stadium.
I'm in the locker room, warming up a little, jumping up and down and trying to stay calm. But by now, the nerves have mainly been replaced by anticipation. This is my moment. And I'm ready to take it.
There are several other swimmers in the locker room, but I barely pay them any attention. I'm only focusing on Eminem's angry voice blasting through my ear buds. Classic pump-up music.
Another swimmer, Jill, stops to give me a hug and wish me luck, and then I'm up and heading out to the pool.
As I pull my goggles onto my head someone else hurries into the locker room, colliding with me and causing me to flail my arms for balance.
"I'm so sorry!" the girl cries as she reaches down for the goggles I dropped.
"No problem." I huff as I pass her. I take the short walk over to the pool and go to stand by my designated lane. Lane 4.
I reach down to splash some water on myself and take a final survey of the pool. Somehow it looks bigger than it did in practice.
8 laps. That's how many times I will have to swim across the pool to finish my race. 8 laps.
We're being called to take our marks now, and I climb up, pulling my goggles down over my eyes.
I can tell immediately that something is wrong.
The strap feels loose so I reach behind my ear to tighten them, but something is missing from my goggles, and I can't tighten them.
Oh well, nothing can be done about it now, I think. I'm bent into the "set" position and if I try to adjust my goggles now, I'll be disqualified for moving.
/No big deal, just focus on the race./ I tell myself.
When the buzzer sounds my body springs open and I dive off the block. As soon as I hit the water, everything melts away, and the cheering of the crowd fades to nothing.
I fall into a steady rhythm. 2 strokes, then breathe.
One, two, breathe, one, two, breathe. I'm feeling good, relaxed even. I'm swimming at a good pace, and at this ponit, I'm in third place.
3 laps down, 5 to go.
/Just keep swimming, just keep swimming./ I sing in my head.
I've just turned off the wall, starting lap 6, when my goggles slip a little. My steadiness flags for a second, but it's not like I can stop in the middle of the pool.
/Just keep swimming, just keep swimming./ I repeat, this time with a new grimness.
2 laps to go.
As I turn off the wall for the final lap, my goggles become looser and water begins to seep in. The chlorine stings like hell, and my rhythm is interrupted.
I'm momentarily discombobulated, and then my goggles slip even more. I'm blind in the water. I can't see where I'm swimming or who is next to me or how far ahead they are.
Now panic is setting in. Those milli-seconds of faltering have cost me. There's less than 30 meters to go, but I can feel myself slipping behind, and all my Olympic glory dreams slip away as well.
I'm pushing, pushing those last couple meters, trying to grab on, but the dream is gone, and there is nothing to hold onto.
I know I've lost before I even lift my head out of the water.
I was 3 tenths of a second away from getting a medal.
The disappointment rushes over me in a huge wave, leaving me feeling exhausted. I felt like I was so close to obtaining victory I could taste it. I almost expected it. But it's been whisked away.
I congratualte the winner of the race somewhat dully, then pull myself out of the pool. My family is seated in the stands, waving signs and cheering despite my loss. Hailee's there too, holding up a poster.
She won gold in her event.
I can't believe that she proved to be the better athlete.
All because my goggles were loose.
A news reporter stops me on the side of the pool, asking for a minute of my time. I nod reluctantly and answer her questions quickly, then walk back to the locker room.
I can see my family coming towards me, and Francisco and Clare are trailing as well, all smiling. But I don't want their congratulations right now.
Once in the locker room, I rip off my goggles, throw them across the room and sink onto a bench, with little intention of getting up anytime soon.
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hi. wow. this was rather dramatic. Nicki is kind of a sore loser.
type "not everyone makes history" if you read.
@sky-rocketer @five-hundred-days-of-penny @xoxothegirlinthegreenglasses @true-starlight
AND IF ANYONE WANTS TO BE INCLUDED IN FUTURE STORIES COMMENT BELOW vv
THERE'S STILL TIME TO MAKE FRIENDS :D