PROUD PAPA

Posted by admin on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized tagged with

An essay written by my daughter Emma in which she received an ‘A’ in English. Oh, to be able to write like this at her age, let alone, mine?

Swim to Change
By Emma Valdiserri

10/14/2014

The bus rattled viciously on its rubber wheels pushing against the pavement road, with forty-five excited girls screaming, singing and talking inside. The New Trier Swimming team was on its way to Evanston Township High School for the final meet of the season. Being a freshman, I had to prove my hard work had paid off. I had to get up on the block, dive in, and swim my ultimate best. My palms were sweating, my frizzy hair was pulled back in an orange hair tie, and my lungs were lacking breath. My vocal cords buzzed while basically trying to compete with others on how loud we would each talk. The so called “leather” seats on the bus, filled with teenage girls and large green bags, nearly broke. I struggled to trample over every bag while leaving the bus, ready to open the other doors to my final 100-yard freestyle race. I grabbed the handle of the locker room door and pulled myself into the the chlorine filled atmosphere. My chest pounded.

Wet towels were spread out everywhere, leaving no space for us to walk. I struggled to slip on the tightest suit I owned, but soon ran out the blue door, making sure my bag would be the first one on the wooden bench. The wet tile floor chilled my bare feet as I walked rapidly to the bench along the clear, intimidating water, and set down all of my gear. I moved some other bags around for mine to fit. The pool area was filled with polo-t-shirted coaches, energetic swimmers, and humidity. I could see fog circling around the strong lights. My two other friends were swimming the same event. They were both upperclassmen. I had to beat them. It was my natural instinct. I had not spent two and a half months of difficult practices to lose. My swimming would need to exceed fast. I didn’t really pay attention to the others swimming their races, but I still had to cheer somehow. It was “required.” My hands clapped slowly as I rolled my eyes when someone on Evanston won the race. They thought they were so fast just because they won some heat that wouldn’t earn many points. Quickly, I glanced at the upperclassmen who were beginning to place their caps on their heads. Immediately, I yanked my baggy warmup suit off, tossed it sloppily onto my bag, and walked shakily to the starting block, ready to improve and impress. I grabbed my cap and goggles and slid them on as fast as I could. Race faster, race faster ran through my mind. My nails chipped as I bit them. I shook out my tense muscles and bones to loosen up and raise my heart rate. However, the intimidation factor of having to beat two upperclassmen rattled my heart and I. This was it.

The black latex cap with Valdiserri printed on the side, engulfed my hair tightly. Rainbow bungee cord goggle straps sat firmly in the right position on the back of my head. The first heat had just finished. Suddenly, the whistle rang in my ears. Focused, I stepped onto the block, slipping a “Good luck” out of my mouth to the upperclassmen, as if I meant it. My eyes glanced at the number six on the block. My mind went blank like an artist starting a new canvas. My goggles sat tight, ready to look underwater. “Mr. Starter. Take your mark.”Beep! My feet sprung off the block as my warm body slid into the freezing water. I kicked strongly with my legs and several seconds later, surfaced. Soon, everything was numb. I couldn’t feel my limbs because of the speed they were embracing. I swung my body around to flip, and pushed off the wall with much strength. Seventy-five more yards; sprint! I glanced to the side with all New Trier swimmers cheering as I took a short breath. Oh right, I couldn’t breathe. My body had to endure fifty more yards. I wasn’t thinking. My thoughts had escaped into the water. The wall felt as slippery as a truck on ice on the last turn, but I kept pushing. My eyes quickly viewed the sophomore in the other lane. She was about one inch ahead. Swim faster, swim faster. And I did. My legs were like a motor to a boat. I beat her to the wall. The tips of my fingers harshly grabbed the gutter as I entered past the final flags. Now my canvas was filled; the scoreboard at the top, the sudden water splashes to the side, the teammates shaking hands. I looked up at the board nervously. My eyes averted and I saw my time: 58.83.

Instantly, my face heated with pride. It was a personal best. I jumped out of the pool, barely able to walk with my numb legs. I slipped my cap and goggles under the edge of my suit. A smile emerged across my “sweating” face. The senior next to me smiled even more. She had come in first place, and I had come in second. We both soon walked joyfully together, congratulating each other on our success with big, wet hugs and a thousand high fives. My muscles continued to tingle. We all grabbed our warmup sweatshirts and waited in line for our ribbons. Each person stood on their own block. As I stepped onto the fifth block for the second time in a span of only five minutes, I gradually accepted my ribbon. It was red, and cleanly cut at the edges. My head turned as I smiled for the cameras. With everything happening at once, I swiftly stepped down and walked back to the benches with the upperclassmen, unable to stop smiling.

The coaches with their official clip boards let loose and congratulated all of us. The palm of my hand nearly fell off from all the high-fives. I did the best I could. There’s not much else to do when you’ve outdone yourself. My breathing returned to normal for the most part. I jumped up and down, cheering for my other teammates swimming their races. The upperclassmen and I congratulated each other on the race. Our hair dripped and our hands clapped rapidly as we stood along the side of the pool. The smile would not escape my face. After about a hundred practices, I should have been tired, but I couldn’t stop now.

This meet was important for everyone. My eyes were wide open, filled with chlorine, almost tears of happiness. I let my hair hang loose, knowing it would dry messily. My hands kept hitting each other, even if Evanston won the next race. My feet continued to hop for my teammates, even though they were numb from the race. A smile managed to stay on my face, even though I was basically half asleep from a long day. I stood there cheering, waiting anxiously for the next swim season to come along, so I could draw out an entirely new canvas of water.

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