I had been competing in water polo all year long and we were in the middle of summer training. We were playing Don Lugo when I took a shot to the head in the middle of second-quarter. I felt awful. I didn't know at the time, but that was when I received my first concussion. I played the rest of the game slow and disoriented.
Work hard, push yourself, put the time in, and stay determined and you can do great thing in life. This was something my parents told me repeatedly throughout my childhood. When they would tell me this I never really believed them. However, many years later I realized that their words could not be more true. It was the fall of my junior year in high school, I was almost done with the swimming season.
It was around the time of my freshman year, I was 14 years old, and that’s when I began to set my mind to certain things. In the past I had been swimming on a year-round team competitively, then when it came to my freshman year I joined high school swim as well. I always thought to myself that I wasn’t good enough and I could never win, or at best make a section time. However, later on that season, I realized I was good enough, because I believed in myself and set my mind to win and did not give up, and eventually my times immensely improved. After many months of training, it was time for League Champs to begin.
“You’re too small” is something I have been constantly told my whole life. This statement has become more repetitive as I began my job as a lifeguard two years ago. When I was interviewing for my first job, I was told, I’m not sure if you can work here, you are a little small and may not be able to handle the job.” As I heard him say, what I’ve heard hundreds of times before, I knew he was wrong. I had been swimming competitively for six years and participated in numerous Junior Lifeguard Programs. It turned out I swam the fastest that day, but unfortunately the man who interviewed me simply judged me on my size and not what I was actually capable of; I was not offered the job.
The girls on the team knoxed our hair, did our makeup, helped us decorate suits, and taught us our very own routine. I was a mess with bad hair and crooked goggles, nearly drowning the entire time, but I was in love. I had never felt so free as I did in the water, and dreamed of being as elegant and artistic as the swimmers were. So I took official swimming lessons and joined the team when I was ten. For the next six years, synchro would dictate my life.
The Summer of 2014 changed me, along with California, I went on a mission to Seattle and spent 2 weeks back packing. I went into my junior year with full forces studying hard for my ACT, becoming president of clubs, running varsity cross country, taking second in tennis and realizing I wanted to break out of Montana and go out of state for college. My past was my past and I would not change it for anything because it made me who I am today. I had found that same sassy, and independent two year old mentality I had
I also play volleyball and I have it after school everyday. Lastly, I do 4-h and I have to go home and do my animals. My second worry for seventh grade is not getting to class on time. I am afraid of not getting to class on time because I don’t want to get after school detention. After I get many detentions I wouldn’t be able to play any sports.
Every day I feel like I should just give up because I will never be able to beat my disorder. Often times, I feel my strength diminishing. But in spite of all the doubt, and the fear, I fight against my disorder. I fight so I can achieve in school and in life. When I walk across the stage to receive my diploma, I will know that all the fighting to go above and beyond, despite my disorder making it difficult, will have been worth.
Around two years ago, when I was just a young swimmer , my coach asked my swimming group what a swim meet was. The reply came back with some confused looks and the rare nod of a head. She then told us what a meet was. I then told my parents about this new type of competition, they signed me up and brought me to a strange place, leading me to where I am now, with legs trembling and about two and a half feet above the ominously still pool on a white platform. As I stare at the water, it stares right back at me, almost jeering at me.
Then in 2012 I went and stayed in the states for 6 months. I practiced at a club there and then had to move back to Egypt in December of that year. Then in the fall of 2013 again something amazing happened: I got a gold medal. As my coach, that was a supervisor once said "the gold medal will hang in my chest at nationals" and here I was with a gold medal on my chest. More to that, that same gold medal got me in the national team that went to the junior African championship in which I did what I consider my biggest achievement in swimming so far.
I started the swim program back in 2010 my daughter, Kasey Rein; she wanted me to start it because she knew she would place at State. She was the only swimmer through 2010-11, since no one else knew how to swim. Afterwards high school students started to join swimming. The twins started high school swimming in their freshman year, but swam for King Marlin Swim Club since they were nine years old and had made it to the senior level (highest level) at club swimming.
One thing I am thankful for had to be my concussion, sounds strange right? Well we all have our stories but mine started during my freshman year basketball game. Going into the game, I thought we were walking out with an easy win because we played this team before and won. First lesson, don’t ever be cocky in a sport because it will bite you back. Of course, my team decided we were not going to take the game too serious since we won before and karma caught up with us really fast.
My full name is Angel Jose Garcia, I am 16 years old and I am attending Grace M. Davis high school; I started off freshman year as a chubby kid with no motivation, but as I got a little bit older I have come to change for the better; I am very motivated to succeed and express myself. I enjoy running on my own and in cross country, as well as Teens Run Modesto. I do swimming as a school sport when it comes around, this was my second year doing it and I was team captain. I ran the Modesto Marathon for the first time on March 19, 2017 and got a time of 5 hours and 45 minutes, I know I will get a much better time next year. Apart from running and swimming, I like to participate in school theatre and hanging out with my friends during lunch.