“Swimmers, on your mark.” The crowd went berserk. A Mexican wave was brewing.
“Get set.” Too late to back out now.
Whereas the other swimmers executed elegant, swooping dives, I flung myself into the pool, hitting the water chest first, creating an obscene splash. The water was freezing, frostbitten. I scissor-kicked my feet and swam free-style. The race was on.
And then I bumped into a floating lane divider. I stopped, looked up, and saw that, despite my wild paddling, I moved no more than fifteen meters from the starting block while the others were nearing the fifty meter mark. Uh-oh.
I swam harder. However, I couldn’t swim in a straight line even if my life depended on it. I kept zigzagging inside my lane and hitting the floating dividers. When I reached the twenty meter mark in my crisscrossing fashion, everyone was already sprinting to the end. At that point, I began regretting my very existence.
Five minutes after the race had started, the swimmer in lane four (Chinito with hairy abs) touched the wall first. Following him were the swimmers from lanes three, five, two, six and one. The swimmer in lane seven (that would be me), however, was still at the seventy meter mark. Just a hundred thirty to go. I felt like a tadpole swimming making its way across the English Channel against the current.
I so wanted to get out of that godforsaken pool, go home, and get into a fetal position. If it was possible, I’d even crawl back inside my mother’s womb, revert into an embryo, a zygote, a sperm cell. (But then I thought, I’ll never be conceived again because the other sperm cells would beat me to my mother’s ovum).
At the hundred meter mark, my legs were numb. I couldn’t swim anymore. I just grabbed the floating dividers and tugged on them to move forward. Then I heard it over the loudspeaker: “Will the swimmer in lane seven please hurry up? We have other races to finish.” Laughter from the gallery. I realized then and there that some people have absolutely no empathy for their less fortunate brethren.
A couple of eternities later, I finally emerged from the pool, grabbed my towel, and sprinted to the locker area. From that experience, I learned my three biggest lessons in life: (1) Thou shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again; (2) Thou shall shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again; and (3) Thou shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again.
(This entry is my participation in Blogie's meme game, Funniest Childhood Memory. Thadie, and Makoy, sorry guys, I'm tagging you to do this.)