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Going to Petersburg
By Brennan Palmieri
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Elementary 4-6
Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

Normally you get courage by doing something, or being so confident in yourself that you think that you are going to win everything. Being too confident is very risky: I know from experience.

One normal day my coach announced that we were going to Petersburg. I was so confident in myself that I thought going to a place where I had never swam before was going to be easy. In fact, I was so excited, that every day seemed like years. But, life goes on, right. So I knew that eventually I would be on a boat heading to Petersburg. Soon I was there, on the boat, not in my head, but for real.

"This is going to be the best swimming trip ever!" I yelled off the end of the boat into the brisk open air. Not feeling that I have yelled enough, I howled at the moon like a wolf. Then some of my friends joined me. Now we were a pack of wolves howling at the moon like it stole our lunch money. A few minutes later an adult came barging in saying with an annoyed look on his face, "I've been looking all over for you guys. Come back in and get some sleep." Reluctantly we made our way into the room where we were going to sleep.

 I couldn't sleep; there was a knot building up in my stomach. When we woke up it was in the afternoon. The 16-hour boat ride seemed like it was never going to end, even though I slept through eight of them. By the time the swim team to Petersburg it was late at night.

The next morning my coach came bursting into the boy's room yelling like a mad man, "Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast!" Everybody was pulling their sleeping bags over their heads trying to block out our crazy coach. In the end he won, we were all up. After breakfast it was time to go to the pool.

On the walk there, the wind started to howl; it started to get hard to walk. The wind was so crazy that we were moving as fast as a snail; I figured that it would take a long time for us to reach the pool. So I started to think. I realized I was about to go to a totally new place that I had never even seen before and didn't have a plan. The knot in my stomach was getting larger every minute. I was frantic! What if I miss my event? What if my goggles fall off? What if I belly flop? I felt like ripping off my hair.

My coach noticing my craziness and said, "Hey man, are you ok?"

 "Yes, I am fine," I lied.

Trying to calm myself down, I thought, I have been to many meets and swam many times. Everything will be fine. That day everything turned out to be fine. I was very relieved. The next day was a different story; it was the worst day ever. I was climbing on the block ready to dive. As soon as my hands touched the water I knew that this wasn't going to a good race. I was at least five feet deeper than everyone else, which means it would take me longer to get to the surface and that's where I get most of my speed.

The next race was the 100 breast stroke. I was pretty sure that I was in first on the last length so I decided to do one of the stupidest things you can do in breast stroke. I looked around the pool behind me. I didn't see anyone so I decided to take is slightly easier, but I didn't see the one guy at the end of the pool catching up to me. He was six tenths of a second faster. I lost.

I did badly in every event that day. I was slower than my previous times; it was awful. I was heartbroken. All my confidence went down the drain. I felt like crawling in a hole to die.

When I woke up the next morning I had two choices: be miserable or, go out there and redeem myself. I chose the second option. I was ready to win everything. The pool was cold and the bleachers were noisy, a perfect time to make the crowd roar.

And that's what I did. I got up on the block, heart pounding little beads of sweat dripping down my face into the dark pool. I dove in, my heart beating faster and faster. As I broke the surface, I thought to myself, I will own this race. And I did for the first length, then I started to get tired.

Other swimmers were getting closer and closer, my arms started to drag. My shoulders started to feel like a piece of metal cooling getting harder and harder to move. But all I could think was no, I can't lose this, not today. I pushed myself to the breaking limit, but it paid off. I won!

Everyone was jumping and screaming. I wanted to get out of the pool and huge my coach, but I couldn't. I was too tired to get out of the pool! It took me a little while, but I got out.

Later I asked my coach why everyone was so excited, he said, "You swam so fast you qualified for JO's! (JO is junior Olympics) I couldn't believe it.

That is how swimming should feel. You should feel accomplished of yourself and proud. I was lucky to be able to redeem myself, and if I didn't I would have been in a slump weeks. So don't go into a situation feeling over confident. Because if you get crushed, you might not get a chance to redeem yourself like I did. And here I am, the day after I got back from Petersburg for the second time, and can't wait to go again next year.




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