Don’t wait to pursue your dreams
It’s Never Too Late to Do What You Should’ve Been Doing All Along
1981. Eleven-year-old me confidently stares down the competition on the swim deck at the city-wide Allied Gardens swim meet. I was taught not to brag, but I was assuredly coming home with multiple gold colored plastic medals, culminating in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay. As the best on the team, I was swimming the anchor leg. Of course.
My first event, the backstroke, was admittedly a little shaky. These other swimmers were much faster than those at my local swim club. I came in fifth. Just a fluke, I told myself. A warm-up. But I fared no better in my other races. Inexplicably, however, my confidence had not yet completely vanished.
There still was my marquee event, the freestyle relay. The first three legs we were behind, but just a teeny-tiny bit. I sprang into the pool and swam as fast as I could, as fast as I ever had. When I touched the wall, I heard nothing… silence. This must mean victory, akin to a runner’s high, if you will. I was such a focused athlete I had willed all distractions into silence.
As I arrogantly got out of the pool, the scene came into sharper focus. My fellow competitors were in towels, their hair almost dry. They were sitting in the stands with their parents, eating frozen orange slices. Empty Capri Sun juice pouches were strewn about. I was stunned. I was so slow, and so “dead last” that everyone had time to decompress, finish snacks, and get into their cars to go home before I even finished my “victory” lap.
I hung up my foggy goggles that afternoon and never swam competitively again. My parents urged me to continue. They said that I shouldn’t give up in the face of adversity and stiffer competition. But I did.
For decades after that, I didn’t swim regularly. I might take a quick dip in the pool or the ocean while on vacation, but I never approached a swimming pool intending to do any serious swimming.
Why not indulge in an activity you profess to love? There are always excuses.