Failure is an obstacle that challenges everybody in their daily lives. Whether or not they make the best of it determines the level of their success. As a swimmer, I experience many different levels of failure that others cannot. However, by facing these obstacles I have changed from being a timid and apprehensive boy to a confident and gutsy student-athlete. The most memorable of these challenges comes from early in my swimming career where it completely changed my outlook on life and helped set me up for future success. In my early school years, although I put in hard work in both the pool and the classroom, I was afraid of many things. I was afraid of asking questions in class; fearing that I would be labeled as dumb by my peers. I was afraid of meeting anyone new; fearing that I would make a poor first impression. But my biggest fear was of taking up challenges, and failing and being ridiculed. During the Division I championships of my freshman year, I was faced with the biggest challenge of my life. My high school team was missing a key swimmer in the 4x100 freestyle relay due to a sprained ankle. My coach immediately volunteered me as his replacement. I had no idea why he picked me, out of all of the available options who were all bigger and stronger than me.
Five minutes before the relay, things were not looking good for my team. We were down to our rival school in a close match, and we would have to win the relay in order to take home the championship. My coach told me that I would be anchoring the relay, and that I would have to split a lifetime best by a full second in order to win. At the time, this seemed impossible. When it was finally my turn to race, I stood on the blocks, ready and focused on swimming a good race. Our rivals were only half a body length behind, and they were closing fast on us. Behind my lane was the entire team, cheering me on. At that point, I resolved to beat the man next to me.