The sound of the gun.
My feet pushing off the platform and diving into the water, my legs pressed together tightly, and for a sliver of a moment, I feel like a mermaid, and I feel my worries fading away.
I come up to the surface, my arms reaching out to push the water behind me, my legs now kicking, pushing me further, my body dragging through the rippling water, I can hear the people in the stands, though they're drowned out by the water filling my ears, the blood pumping through my veins, I can still hear them, their feet pounding on the ground beneath them, but I can't focus on the noise, I just focus on the water and the way that it carries me.
I roll in the water kicking my feet off the side and swimming back to the other end, my arms pulling me all the way through, my heart is racing, my body is tired and I've barely done two laps; it's been months since I have been in the water, months since I have competed in a race, you should have seen the look of shock on my coaches face when I showed up today.
No one thought that I would show. I don't blame them, because I didn't even think that I would show.
Ever since the accident I couldn't even bring myself to stand in the shower for more than five minutes, let alone actually swim.
I reach the other end and pop my head up out of the water, taking in a huge lungful of air. I can hear the crowd more clearly now, they're all cheering loudly. I look around and see that I had come first, and I smile a real genuine smile.
I pull myself up out of the pool and smile at my coach. She nods over at me and claps her hands softly.
It feels good. I should have never stayed away from the water, because when I am in it, I feel like home.
I have loved swimming my whole life. I still remember my very first time. My dad brought me to the pool, dropped me in the deep end and told me to kick. It was hard and I was scared. I remember the fear that was settling in me, I remember the feeling of the water washing over my head and completely taking over as my body sank down further. I could see my father above me, his mouth was moving, kick, he told me to kick, so that's what I did, I began kicking. I reached the surface and gasped for air, gripping ahold of the side to keep me afloat, but I had done it, I had managed to bring myself back up.
From that day on I would plead with him to take me to the pool every day. I practically became a fish, sometimes I would just swim for hours, my skin would be wrinkly and I would always stink of chlorine, but it always brought comfort to me.
When I turned fifteen I tried out for the school swim team. I became their champion. I was the best swimmer in the state, and I like to believe that I still am.
And then the accident happened.
I was in the car with my dad. We were driving home from one of my swimming competitions. I came first place, we were laughing in the front seat. I can't remember what it was over I wish that I did, because I would have loved to remember, to be able to hold onto that memory.
But all I am left with is the look of horror on my father's face as he sees the car in front of us, driving down the middle of the road, directly towards us. He tried to steer out of the way, but there was no where for us to go, we were on a narrow bridge, just wide enough to allow two cars to pass by one another, There was nowhere for us to turn, so as my dad swerved to avoid the oncoming vehicle we crashed through the barricades of the bridge and went flying down into the water, the car going bonnet first, slowly sinking deeper as the water started to seep through the gaps. My dad was knocked unconscious, his head had smashed against the steering wheel. I could see a huge gash just above his eyebrow, the blood seeping out fast.
I remember calling his name, screaming at him, the water was rising higher, it was close to my chest now. That was the second time that I ever felt scared of being in the water.
I reached for my seatbelt but I couldn't get it undone, I tried, I tried so hard but it just wouldn't budge. I kicked and punched at the window on the car, but the force of the water was too strong, there was no way I was going to break it. I had tears streaming down my face, I could feel myself choking up as the water climbed higher, it's at my chin now.
The thing that I loved the most is going to be the thing that killed me, that's what I remember saying in that moment.
I looked over to my dad and saw his head moving, he was waking up, I called out to him and watched him as a look of confusion crossed his face, and then worry.
His main focus was me, he managed to free me from my seat belt, but the water was getting too high now; his head was submerged, I had mine pressed against the roof of the car trying to save the air, I tried to help him.
I went back under and tried to free him of his seatbelt, but it was no use, I couldn't breathe, my lungs were filling with water, the air was running out as the car just kept filling up.
The next thing I remember is waking up in an all white hospital room with blinding lights shining down on me.
It was two hours later when I was told that my father had died down there. It's been five months since that night, and I haven't gone near a pool since.
But being in it today, I felt comfort, and I felt the presence of my father for the first time in five months. I believe that's why I won today, that's why I came here today and competed. I believe that he told me to.
I know I wouldn't have won today if it weren't for him. I could feel him with me through every stroke, through every kick, he was right there with me.
I love you daddy.