Swimming Upstream


Karli Bainbridge, Staff Reporter

The build up is high. I’m on the block, staring at the water. I think about all the things I would prefer to be doing instead of what I am about to do. The buzzer sounds, and I dive into the water. Every thought I have ever had disappears. My heart rate goes up, and I’m off. The ripples of the water remind me why I am here. Four laps later, the race is done. All the anxiety was replaced with extreme exhaustion. I look at my time, get told what I could have done better, and I am back in my head. 

This is my ritual at every race. The nerves usually get the best of me. I remind myself every time I have done badly. My dad always talks about mental toughness. He says  swimming would be way more enjoyable if I just trusted myself, if I had more confidence. I feel like I have none. I wish I could be better about feeling confident, but it is hard. All of the thoughts get so loud up until I hit the water. It’s like my brain is telling me how bad I am. I have tried to get better, but every time it’s the same. 

Everything changes when I hit the water. All of the negative thoughts and nerves transform into adrenaline. My main event is the hundred breaststroke, so the race feels like it takes forever. A hundred meters is four laps. After the first fifty meters the adrenaline starts to wear off, and my body starts to wear down. Just as I feel like giving up and slowing down, I see the person next to me, and I get the urge to go faster. 

Winning the race or not, the feeling after the race is good. Adrenalin is now exhaustion. No matter what place I get, I feel happy because it’s over. I love the feeling after.  The team is always so supportive, and there to cheer you on. Even if I have little mental toughness, I am pushing myself to get out of that headspace, and that makes it good.