How FHC swim & dive gave me hope


“She’s too slow.” “She will never make the cut.” “She is a horrible swimmer.”

I was only thirteen years old when the people I considered to be my second family—my swim team—began to chant these unspeakable words while my oblivious ears were under the water. Those words touch only the surface of the swarm of slurs they spoke to me. Some I heard, and some I did not. 

Firing pools trickled down my innocent face every night because of the exclusion I felt. 

They don’t want me. 

They think I’m incapable of success.

I am never going to fit in.

I finally lost all hope when a mother of one of the harassers told my mother that it was my fault. She suggested that if I were not on the team, there would be no issues. What occurred only moments prior, however, was her child cackling and booing at me while I was swimming my race. It would never have come to my attention had one of my few friends on the team not told me. The familiar demons in my head returned:

They don’t want me. 

They think I’m incapable of success.

I am never going to fit in.

Only this time a new demon appeared. It was one I had never heard before. This demon was very firm in its position. This demon said that I should retire my swim cap and goggles. It told me that everything I worked for since I was six years old should disappear into oblivion. It told me to stop what I loved to do because of the hate I was receiving from my peers. I gave in. I was firm on my decision that I would not be swimming ever again.

Suddenly, an iridescent beam of light shined through. We were leaving this horrid situation and moving to a new place. It was a fresh start. No demons were telling me that I could not fit in or that they hated me; yet, there was still one demon remaining. I still had no desire to swim. I never wanted to risk running into the same events that occurred on my past swim team; they still haunt me to this day.

I determined that I would give it one more shot; hopefully, things will be different.

I decided to face all of my fears straight in the eye. I decided to look down on the demon, trying to tear me apart. I decided that I could not retire from the sport that has given me so much. I decided to join the Forest Hills Central Swim & Dive team. 

From the beginning of the first day of practice and meeting with the coaches and teammates, the demon disappeared. It escaped from my mind and replaced itself with something different. I had never felt this type of relief. The release of all of the negativity and sorrow gave way to the birth of a new figure: hope. It commenced in the interconnections of my mind, traveled down my body, and planted itself deep within my soul as if it were a seed and my heart was the soil. 

 That tiny seed then became a root. It wove its way through my body, placing other figures along the way. There was optimism. There were courage and determination. There was enthusiasm. 

Suddenly, an entire set of new feelings established in my mind. I no longer heard the demons that once resided inside of me. I could only hear the beams of light propelling from my soul.

They want me here.

They believe in my abilities for success.

I belong.