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Unsung Hero: Pushing Past Me

Joined: 10/24/2014
Posts: 3
"Please be easy. Please be easy." Another swim practice had started just like any other day. I was standing behind my lane, dreading what would be written on that little sheet of death that determined our fate for today's workout. I am sore. I am tired. I am ready to go home before we even begin. If there was an example of unmotivated, one look at me would have been the perfect example.

I am a year-round swimmer, and swim 6 days a week for two and a half hours each day. I had been swimming for a little over a year and was still considered a "newbie" swimmer. During those challenge sets that felt like death, I would look around and see everyone looking as though they could do this ten more times. I would get so discouraged and think, "Why am I doing this?". It was then that my coach started really pushing me to push past my limits. I thought she was crazy expecting me to push myself until I thought I would pass out. It was an extremely painful process, but when I came out on the other side of the torture I realized that by pushing past myself, my body realized this was normal and started responding. I dropped 3 swimsuit sizes in the span of a couple months. Those challenge sets that used to be my death started to become less challenging. The swimmers I envied as being so fast became my competitors instead of my envied goals.

Not only did Coach Paige's encouragement and sometimes blunt comments make me a better swimmer, they helped me realize that under those faces of calmness from my fellow swimmers they were struggling as much as I was. This encouraged me to encourage them. This made me a better swimmer, friend, and teammate. My coach didn't have to push me, especially since I wasn't always the nicest when faced with pain. It's a struggle, but everyday she would expect me to give my best and I would, in turn, expect the best out of myself. We have almost 50 swimmers that she alone has to watch and manage. In the beginning, I was hoping she would lose me in the numbers, but she never did. Even when she was managing five other lanes she would end up at my lane to motivate and encourage my lane mates and I.

I do understand that it is her job as a swim coach to encourage and motivate her swimmers, but she went above and beyond to motivate me. She turned an unmotivated, slow, and disconcerted swimmer into a confident, "I will give my best" attitude swimmer. She was not always nice, but I didn't need nice. I needed an accountability partner and she gave me that. Coach Paige might not see herself as a hero, but she is an unsung hero in the eyes of her swimmers, at least in mine.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Unsung Hero essay being selected as one of our top 10 teen essays for our January writing contest.

To view all the results of our January 2015 contest, please check our winners page on or after February 28th:

Our editors are voting on the winners and we will have our results completed by Thursday.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 2:46:22 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
We have tallied our results and your essay is a Runner up in our January 2015 Unsung Hero teen writing contest. You should be very proud of your accomplishment.

Thanks for sharing your story on and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs
Stageoflife Co-founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 6:50:36 PM
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