Prompt: Write an essay in which you tell us about someone who has made an impact on your life and explain how and why this person is important to you.
Teetering on the edge of the starting block, I awaited the horn to sound, signaling the start of my individual medley relay. I had to swim 100 meters, divided into 25 meter swims of each of the four strokes: Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Gazing into the water below, time seemed to slow. Every second passed with so many thoughts racing through my head. My muscles were tensed and waiting, itching to burst forward in a split second. And then the horn blared.
I exploded from my four-point stance and dove into the water. Swimming butterfly, I could hear the crowd yelling every time I burst out of the water for a breath. I quickly approached the end of the pool, did a flip-turn, spun onto my back, and continued to swim in backstroke form. I stared up into the sky, watching my arms fly past me. Left. Right. Left. Right. Soon, I saw the flags over my head that signaled I was about to reach the end of the pool. At just the right time, I flip-turned again, and pushed off the wall. My muscles ached, but I kept on going. I continued down the pool, swimming in breaststroke style. Glancing left and right when I went up for breaths, I saw that I was ahead of all the other swimmers. "I've got this one," I thought to myself. When I reached the end of the pool, I once again flip-turned; preparing to give everything I had left in my freestyle swim. I shoved off the wall, powering forward as fast as I could. Halfway down the length of the pool, I turned my head for a breath. For just a second, I could make out my coach walking down the pool, yelling words of encouragement at me. I pushed harder, going as fast as I could, and I hit the wall in seconds. I pulled myself out of the pool, gasping for breath, and watched in contentment as all the other swimmers caught up to the finish. I walked away a winner, and it all began with Coach Al Marks. Marks was my swim team coach for 6 years, and he had a large impact on my life, instilling in me a spirit of competition, perseverance, and success.
I was a summer league swimmer for the Shadow Cliff Swim Club, near my childhood home in San Antonio. Every morning of every day during the summer, I rode my bicycle the quarter-mile to the swim club, which had a simple twenty-five meter pool with lanes. Al Marks, the genius who also trained Josh Davis, an Olympic champion from San Antonio, was there during the summer to coach our team. My swimming skills, which had been rapidly developing since a young age; were helped on by Coach Marks, whose knowledge on swimming technique was forged from years of experience.
Coach Marks has a long history as a successful teacher and swim coach. Marks taught at Churchill High School in San Antonio for 31 years, guiding the school's swim team to 51 district championships, 37 regional titles, and 8 state championships. He led the summer league at Shadow Cliff every year and continues to do it to this day. The six years I was a part of the Shadow Cliff team, we won 6 divisional championships in a row, and after I left they continued to win. This year Shadow Cliff is going for an unprecedented 20-year winning streak.
Coach Marks always was a big hero to me, because he pushed everyone on the team to do their best, and at such a young age, when we were easily molded, those characteristics of excellence and success became second nature to my team and me. Every day I went to practice, Marks drilled us for hours in the cold morning water. He was very hands-on, and a great teacher. Everything he taught me so long ago, I still remember as clearly as if it were yesterday. Whenever I swam, he pushed me to go faster, and give it my all and then some more. To this day, I always like to compete against others, and I push myself to do the best I can in whatever I do. The desire to win, to push myself, and to try my best was instilled by my hero, coach, teacher and friend: Al Marks.