Guilt and/or redemption.
Adrenaline pumping, heart racing. You are peaking, primed for what is to come. Driving out the gloomy thoughts of earlier yesterday morning, when the edge was not yours. Stretching and swinging, as you nervously complete your final ritual, that is borderline OCD. Or at least this is what you are told by those lining the tiered awaiting your passing only to shout encouragement that will only ever bounce around before dissipating into nothingness, never acquiring its intended target. This is your final chance to ‘psych up’, the moment that could make or break the coming 27 seconds.
Standing on the blocks you can hear the crowd cheering, the mums and dads who have given up their weekend to support their prize possession. The sudden sudden, sharp beep that signals your start, both frightens and impels you from your stiffened position on the blocks to the distant end. As you leave this position the air rushes past the side of your head, muffled by the rubber barrier of your cap. The cap that is ever teetering on the edge of disaster, ready to rip at any moment, the potential end to you race. The thunderous roar of supporters, seemingly to exponentially increase before you even hit the water. Once going the periodic blasts of noise sync themselves with your stroke.
The overpowering smell of chlorine burning all exposed nasal somatic cells into nothingness, the pain eased by the passing of time. This is a normality for you as this is your second home, fifty percent of your diurnal life is spent in this environment; in the water. Your vision, blurry from your body heat against the cool chill of the moisture that surrounds. Channelled as if you were wearing blinkers, blocking out any peripheral distractions, that there is a plentiful surplus of in this instance. Its just you and your lane once your in, all else no longer matters. Only the distant hum of the crowds remain as the pain sets in, a short but excruciating one. The burn in your lungs increasing exponentially as you push to exert the maximal effort you can all the while staying gracefully streamline, conflicting values at this time that must be balanced perfectly to ensure efficiency.
All you see and all you want to see is the end. A sight that seems to allude you for what feels like a life time. A sight that can only be seen five metres out, the moment that can make or break the race for you. Under the flags, following the T, this is it. In your peripheral, your opponents. You know that they want it just as much as you do but you must go that little bit extra, push that little bit harder. Your final vision… a white splash and a yellow blur, the sign that you have put it all out on the table and yet still that feeling of imperfection, that pain you feel deep down, the what if… what if you had taken one more stroke, what if your reaction time was faster, what if you hadn’t taken that last breath… what if, what if, what if. This is what compels you to improve, to be faster, to decrease that time once again, even if only a single hundredth of a second. This is your motivation.