The young boy stood at ready and as the signal was given got into position on the starting block. The pool water was choppy but that didn’t bother him. He knew he had the slowest qualifying time in this heat. He also knew his coach tended to fudge times in order to register his swimmers into faster heats.
It was a little odd for him to be in the far lane, he was almost always near the center lane. However, this was states, not just some average swim meet. He looked at the other boys as they all prepared themselves. He was probably one of the smallest kids in this heat.
“I’m going to beat at least one of them…” he muttered quietly to himself as the official beeped his horn to indicate the race was about to start. He kept his eyes forward on the water in his lane, “I’m going to beat at least one of them…” he repeated.
“On your marks,” the official spoke through the blow horn.
He put his hands down onto the front part of the block gripping it tightly, with a hunched back he spaced his feet a bit to give himself that spring forward he had practiced for years. The starting gun fired and he threw himself forward with his hands set to knife his way into the water like he always did. He dolphin kicked until he hit the surface and then his arms and legs both started to work.
The Butterfly stroke was not his best event but he was still very good at it for his age. His front arms, head coming out of the water in unison with every stroke. As he went through the windmilling motion back in and then with scoped hands the pattern continued underwater all the while his feet were kept together kicking.
The roar of the crowd filled his ears, with every stroke as his head came above the water it seemed to intensify and even garbled underwater, he could feel the tension of it all. As he got close to the turning wall, he peeked over underwater and could see he was near the feat of the boy next to him. He was not certain where anyone else in the pool was but he thought to himself, I’m going to beat at least one person.
He hit the wall and as he pushed off, he did his best to pick up his pace. His arms continued their pattern while he did his best to keep up the two-footed kick. He started to take a breath every other stroke, hoping to narrow the gap. The crowd had increased in its frenzy as he neared mid-pool. With every stroke, they seemed louder and louder. He could feel the vibrations of their yelling in the water.
He could see the black T that signified he was getting close to the end of the pool up ahead. He dared another peek to his side, knowing it could slow him down a bit. He was at the other boy’s waist. He saw the T nearly underneath him and knew he only had a few strokes left before the wall.
I will beat at least one person he thought to himself and he buried his head making his chin touch his chest and he tapped into something he never had before. A reserve of power he didn’t know existed within him. Taking three huge strokes his hands found the wall and he pulled his head out of the water just in time to see the boy next to him touch the wall.
The crowd was losing their minds and he was sat there shocked as he took it all in. Looking around he realized the rest of the contestants were half a pool length behind. The real race in this heat had only been between him and the boy next to him. He had won his heat because he just wanted to beat one person. He had won because he refused to be last.