It is from questions that I find myself growing. I question then I test. I examine my failures and critique my successes. Trying to fine-tune and polish who I am. Not just my photography. Before I truely discovered my passion for photography I was an avid water polo player and swimmer. I had a three facet lifestlye; eat, sleep, water polo/swim (with continual eating throughout the day :D). No wonder I LOVE food. Senior year I dedicated myself fully to water polo, I was fortunate to win the state championship my teammates and best friends. I carried that emotional high right into swim season. My times steadily improved during the season but I had yet to do something special. Obviously swimming is all about the clock. Our 400 free relay had already qualified for state and I had my eye on the 200 and 500 freestyle for my individual races. I was just off the standard in the 200 free and quite short in the 500 free. The week before the district meet our team began tapering (resting).
I'll eventually get to the point....During the prelims I swam a 1:51.something in the 200 freestyle; seeding me 7th for the Finals two days later. I was very excited because it was a personal best and simply a great way to start out the meet. Because our district is very competitve the top 7 automatically get to go to state even if they don't swim a qual time (almost always they do though). After the diving break I prepared to swim the 500 (my seed time was 5:18). I'm crazy and intense so I was very excited. I remember envisioning the whole race from the start through each turn staying on my predetermined pace of 31 sec per 50 yards. I was pumped! This was my event. Every practice during the whole season I relished distance sets. 10x200 on the 2:20...that's exactly what I wanted. My teammates were more excited about 50's. But the more yards in a set the more I could distance myself from other swimmers (okay maybe not the incredibly fast state-champion-caliber swimmers). When I jumped off the block it clicked. This was my swim. I was nervous-excited because I knew I could make something happen. After my third flip turn I felt very comfortable and fast. I was experiencing a new feeling for the first time. Each stroke I took became stronger. I honestly felt different than any other race in my life. As I swam I recalled practices, yards swam, jokes made, and this desire to do something special. Outside of a constant effort to push myself to my limit during this event, increasing my intensity with each pull, I don't remember much. Coaches faces on the pool deck with hands flailing and my best friend placing the count card infront of me before each flip turn.
When I touched the wall at the finish I couldn't have felt better. When a race is actually your best it feels easy. Too easy. I was breathing hard but my body wanted to swim the entire race again. I swam a 5:07. Fast enough for the chamionship heat and a time that would probably get me to state.
Saturday rolled around and I was ready to do it all over again. All I had to do in the 200 freestyle was finish first in the consolation heat. That would place me 7th overall and give me a state spot. I was more ready than ever. When I jumped off the block everything went out the door. I failed. Not immediately. Too much intensity during my first 150 yards allowed me to lead the pack...then I died the last 50. Crash and burn die. I placed 2nd in my heat, 8th overall. No 200 free at state. Warm down and then prepare metally for the 500 was my gameplan.
"It was my muscles...I didn't envision it....why did I go out so fast....that other swimmer isn't even as fast as me..."
It didn't matter. I was ready for the 500 free. All too soon I could feel my legs give out. I NEED my legs. My kick is constant and steady. When I change into that higher gear it's my kick "kicking in". But I knew it wouldn't be there during that race. What was my easiest race 2 days prior was suddenly my worst nightmare. I merely wanted to finish. Why now. I slipped behind the other swimmers and found myself in last place. Finishing with an atrocious 5:22. Other swimmers from the consolation heat finished ahead of me.
I don't intend for this post to be some inspirational or life changing event story. I questioned myself. I questioned my swimming ability. I questioned my leadership on the team. Did I seriously have my best swims followed by some of my worst. It seems wrong. My coach was quick to remind me of the responsibility I held with the team during the final event: the 400 freestyle realy. The most competive event. The four fastest swimmers from each team are in the water. While I questioned myself, nothing of that day would matter when I stepped up to the blocks during the final race. With a redetermined mindset and my coach's support I finished the meet with a personal best time in the 100 free and a 2nd place finish for our relay.
Now I only question why I question. I often draw parallel's with other photographers which cause me to question. In the end I know it all helps build my determination to succeed. It's always within reach. I love my job. I couldn't ask for anything more rewarding than photographing the lives of others! I am a long way from where I would like to end [insert Becker, James Nachtwey, and Peter Read Miller] but I'm making my way.
I'm excited to work with my clients this year! It's already been a great start and there is only more to come!
If you follow other photographers you may be familir with Zack Arias. He recently posted this video that I found intriguing and questioning. I enjoy his perspective and ability to call it how it lays. It's a fresh video that will make anyone reflect regardless your profession plus you'll get a few laughs along the way!