The water for me is a place where I can get away from either a chaotic life, sometimes there is so much going on that when I dive into the pool for a training session it is a chance to just focus on something that I want to do for the rest of my life. Everyone always asks me “why don’t you ever get tired of swimming up and down”. I always say “well I enjoy it” just a short simple reply but the truth is that I do get tired but when I’m injured there is nothing that I miss more and then I really know that I want to strive to become the best athlete I can.
At competitions things don’t always go according to plan. But right after a race it will always go three ways.
1- You are overjoyed because you have won a medal or set a new Personal Best.
2- It was a great race you just might of been a bit tired or you have been injured and you haven’t been raining for a while.
3- You had so much expectation for yourself and you didn’t deliver on the day and all you want to do is quit and that moment in time.
Last summer at the end of July, I was going to swim in the most important race of my life so far, it was the 100m backstroke final at the English Nationals Championships. I remember the calling room. It was a room you had to go to 30 minutes before the race. It was completely white with a few blue chairs, it was probably the saddest,most depressing room I have ever had to sit in, not only that but in complete silence. Walking up to the blocks it quite terrifying because everyone in the stands have their eyes on you and it is quite different from being in the water because in the water the water blocks out the sound for you so that pressure is lifted off you.The moment when that whistle goes to get in the water, is when you finally realise that this is real, you aren’t dreaming.
That sharp sound of the starting whistle was like glass shattering on the floor. My brain was so sharp and awake that it knew what to do in that split second where everything counts to whether you have a good lead or you trail behind. Coming up from my underwater start it was as if my brain had no idea how to communicate with my body but my arms and legs were moving, I felt like a worm which had been cut in half. My arms were trying to grab and push through water while my legs were kicking like a hummingbird's wings. The first 50 meters were fast but it felt good. Going into the second and last 50 meters everything changes. My brain was fighting with the rest of my body. My arms start to take the easy route by changing the motion of the way you push through the water, my legs were giving up but my legs are stronger than my arms so they kept going. The last 15 meters you have everything to gain and everything to lose. Even though I was on my back I still held my breath. At this point my arms had something left (it felt like a miracle) and they made so much splash that I couldn’t see anyone everything was just a blur. It was as if that 5 second slot was about one hour long. My brain was thinking actually thinking while my body was just crying out to stop. As soon as I hit that touch pad. My arms and legs were so relieved while every tear, laugh, moment was coming into this one glance at a screen. My head turned around and there was my name in big bold letters ANNA PANG and as my eyes scanned over to the right of the screen it said 3rd. My face light up like the sun burning through the clouds after a rain storm. I was so unbelievably happy.
But as usual nothing goes exactly the way they appear to be. There was something wrong with the touch pad during the race. So after they got that persons time they realised that they had gone faster and they would be rewarded 2nd place meaning that everyone who came 3rd or below got dropped one place. That meant I settled for fourth. That sun had gone behind the clouds and there was a hurricane.
That was my one chance to finally getting recognised for what I do and for what I train so hard for. That moment was a huge setback for me and I will always say to myself was because I didn’t train hard enough or I didn’t push myself hard enough during that race. I have gone through coming 4th three times now in the same event at the same competition and each time it feels like the end of the world for my swimming ambition but I never quit, it is probably the only thing that I have never given up on straight away and have continued to put myself through pressure when I shouldn’t do, but you can’t not have pressure on yourself because that is what gets your adrenaline pumping, your heartbeat up and the motivation to be the best.
But even though you can go through all these emotions (not just once but over and over again) you will never quit because even though you hate it, you couldn’t imagine your life without it.At training it is 90% physical and 10% mental, in a race it is 10% physical and 90% mental. All you have to do is have that will power and the urge to continue no matter what, and somewhere in the back of your mind you have to know that you will fail but if you really love it and you think that there might be a chance, then you won’t give up no matter how many times you talk about it. There is one thing to it....... 100% hard.