Ears and eyes rose up again. The black line on the lane’s cement bottom fell out of focus, then back into clarity. My goggles fogged.
I sprung from the popcorn rough cement of the starting block. My head broke through the slow viscous shock of the cold pool. My arms pulled it back and down. The startle of the start gun still popped in my ears. In my mind’s stereo, Jon Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” tuned up to play in a singular loop. Coach Kim’s voice warned, “if you look over, you’ll lose time!”
I wanted to crane my neck but couldn’t afford the milliseconds. I knew she was faster than me. Instead, I felt for the force of the better swimmer’s wake. Was it dragging me forward? Was I pushing against it? It was steady. The ripping velocity was right by my side. As my head turtled out of the shell of the water, I heard whistling and shouting. Loud. The cacophony was an IV trigger pushing a line of adrenaline into my veins.