In swimming, true competition lies not within the talent of other swimmers, but within the daunting challenge of defying water. I precariously positioned myself on the lustrous aluminum diving board; my knees unwillingly quivered in anxiety. It is as if the boundless sea of glassy droplets instantly sensed the uneven trembling of my breath. It was serene and soothing, gently beckoning me to dive in. I listened intently as the short-lived ripples whisper faintly to the soft breeze each time the wind gently kissed the surface. "This is the 25 yard freestyle. Swimmers, take your mark", exclaimed the swim coach. I cautiously repositioned myself, aware that in just a few fleeting moments, the tranquil palette of shimmering blues will be propelled into a mass of churning waves. The ear-splitting cry of the coach's whistle pierced through the anticipating silence and the swimmers swiftly began to dive in, one after another.
My eyes hastily fixate to the water, and it stared right back at me. My bright yellow goggles reflected a crystal blue tint that taunted me; the water was now my foe. As my head glided beneath the surface, I became consumed by the water's frigid embrace. My determined legs were released from their coiled position. My head darted up and my eyes hungrily searched for the imaginary channel that would guide my body through the lapping currents. Once I found it, I securely tucked my head between my navigating arms and clasped my hands for the strenuous swim ahead. It was a speedy blur of moments as my legs penetrated the water, desperately thrusting me forward. My outstretched hands impatiently struggled to grasp the win, but nonetheless I was defeated. I slowly broke free from the stirred chains of water. Moments later, reassuring slaps on the back and enthusiastically genuine smiles were supportively thrown in my direction. I instantly froze for a few seconds, shaking off any remaining traces of shame and indignity.