“What race did you sign up for Maria,” my best friend Carolyn asked? “The 100 hundred meter freestyle,” I answered. “I entered that race too,” Carolyn replied excitedly. “We’ll be racing each other. Isn’t that super!” “You bet,” I replied with a lump in my throat.

Every summer the city pool had its annual Swimming Meet. Carolyn and I had been entering the races as long as we had been able to swim. We had learned to swim at the city pool. Starting out as tadpoles, we learned to hold our breath, and open our eyes under water.

Even when we were beginners, Carolyn was able to out swim me. “Come on slowpoke,” she’d yell at me as I struggled to cross the width of the shallow end of the pool, gulping for air, and swallowing a mouthful of water.

Carolyn made swimming seem so easy. She would glide along like a beautiful fish, cutting through the water with so little effort. I was always awkward, arms slapping at the water, and knees peddling like I was riding a bike instead of swimming.

I am sure the reason I can swim at all is because of Carolyn. I was afraid of the water and would probably never have stuck my toe in. But Carolyn grabbed me by the hand, and led me shaking into the baby pool on our first day of lessons.

This summer I wanted to win my race. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And now, my hopes were shattered because Carolyn had entered the same race.  She would most probably be the winner.

After our swimming lesson I asked our Instructor, Miss Duncan if I could talk to her.   “Sure Maria, what is it?” Miss Duncan said. I told her my problem, and how much it meant to me to win my race this year.

We sat with our feet dangling in the pool and Miss Duncan said, “Maria I have watched you every summer for years. I saw your fear of the water when you started out, and how swimming does not come naturally for you.”

“You have a great gift Maria.” “Me,” I said astonished. “Yes,” Miss Duncan answered. “You have the gift of perseverance. When things are difficult you don’t quit, you just keep trying.” I was stunned. I thought Miss Duncan saw of me as Carolyn’s shadow. The one who was always messing up.

“I can’t guarantee that you will win your race, but I can help you be a better swimmer,” she added.   “What do I have to do?” I asked eagerly. “Be here at 7:00 am tomorrow before classes start,” Miss Duncan replied. “Seven!” I said in a squeaky voice. “That’s so early, and the water will be freezing.”

800 Words
Flesch Reading Ease 84.2
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 3.9