Throughout my ten years of competitive swimming I have learned a very important lesson, which is never let the people around you make you underestimate yourself.
When I was around the age of six, it was discovered I was born with a hole in my heart the size of a quarter. My parents went to cardiologist after cardiologist and each one recommended that I have open-heart surgery; though due to the massive hole and my age, my chances of survival were not high. My parents did their research to find a cardiologist who was a part of a team who did experimental surgeries across the United States.
My parents and the cardiologist decided on an experimental surgery, which was less invasive but could reduce my chances of having an athletic career. Being around the age of six, I didn’t fully understand the full extent of not having an athletic career. During summers my sisters and I would spend most of our time at Orchard Lake Country Club. My sisters were able to do all of the activities that the club offered, but sadly due to my condition I was limited to golfing. Being six and watching my friends and sisters be able to swim, golf, play tennis, and sail wasn’t easy, so being a child I had temper tantrums until I had guilted my mom into making an appointment with the cardiologist. My mother had taken me to downtown Detroit to the Children’s Hospital, and through reexamining my condition and consulting other cardiologists, my cardiologist had approved me to play sports. When my mother told me I could swim again, I was filled with joy, and could hardly contain my excitement. I was able to do my favorite thing, swim.
At the time I thought I could do anything, and thought others around me believed the same. I was sadly mistaken, and had to prove every day that I was capable of doing something as simple as attending swim practice. After that summer I had proven to my coach and to my family I was capable of surviving a two hour-long practice. When my swimming became stronger, I wanted to prove that I was as good of a swimmer as I thought I was, and put it to the test. I remember challenging my sister who is three years older than me to a race, where we had to do a fifty (two pool lengths) of butterfly. I was a short chunky child, and my sister was tall and slender. I remember my father saying that due to my size it was unlikely I would win. But, when we raced I beat her by about eight seconds. I was ecstatic and by winning it gave me the confidence to prove more and more people wrong. Looking back on those summers I realized that if I had listened to the people who had underestimated me, I would have never accomplished some of the greatest things in my life thus far.
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