Hana Greenberg

Canada

I am a 14 year old in North America, originally from Tokyo. Former homeschooler and avid reader. I love to learn languages and I speak Japanese, English, and French. I also study Latin. Other interests are competitive swimming, baking, and drawing.

All Out

January 20, 2021

I dipped my foot uncertainly into the cold, chlorine filled water of a local high school. Everyone around me laughed and talked before our 1½ hour-long swim practice. I nervously gathered my equipment and jumped into one of the lanes. The water was freezing. Then I looked over at my new coach who was busy writing our first practice set of the season on the squeaky blackboard. I felt my motivation sag. How was I going to survive this insanely hard warm-up?
 
That evening, I was absolutely worn out. The training was nothing like what I had been used to. I didn’t want to go back for a second practice session the next day. My teammates were faster and stronger than me.  Discouraged, I thought that I would never get as fast as them.
 
The following afternoon, I arrived at another pool. The deserted streets and closed stores made me shiver with fear. I was used to people bustling around on the sidewalks of Tokyo, vendors and stores open with energetic staff. However, that was before. I sighed and continued on my seemingly long journey.
 
During another main set worthy warm-up, I wanted to just give up and jump out of the pool. My body ached from the previous day’s set and this one seemed to be even harder. Nevertheless, I had no choice but to keep swimming and to keep going on without any breaks because I was so far behind.
 
It was hard enough for me to adapt to the new training plan for swimming. However, I also had to embrace other big changes in my life including moving halfway across the globe, switching education systems, a completely different daily life, a new environment, and the whole atmosphere of my new hometown.
 
That night, my mom presented me with a book that changed my perspective on my swimming and my new life. It contained great advice, humour, and an important message. Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts soon became my favourite.
 
Nikki is a 13-year-old living in Northern Virginia. She is a thriving basketball player who gets into the Northern Virginia Action club team with very hard work. She has to tackle various problems such as big school projects and pesky little brothers as she tries to prove herself on the court, to her family, and in her daily life.
 
I had been to North America during the summers to visit my paternal grandparents and to attend camps and other activities but it felt different to actually live here. It was unreal for me. I had lived in the same country for my entire childhood and I was suddenly thrust into this city where people were loud and rough. Where the downtown streets were dirty and littered. Where I constantly had no idea where I was. Everything about it was unfamiliar. In addition, I had to adjust to a public middle school after having been homeschooled in Tokyo for 4 years.
 
A part of me just wanted to skip the next swim practice. Even so, I told myself that I shouldn’t give up just yet. Nikki didn’t give up even when one of her basketball teammate’s parents insulted her behind her back about her basketball skills. She didn’t give up during hard workouts and at points where she felt like she was going to die of exhaustion. Instead, Nikki pressed on, becoming stronger with each effort. I decided to put this into consideration because I didn’t want to be a person who I would not be proud to be. I put myself next to Nikki and I tried to develop the qualities that I found admirable in her.
 
Nikki wanted to be a star player and she eventually became one. The reason was simple. She tried her absolute best during every single training session and she pushed through the times were she wanted to give up. She strived to make her disadvantages her strengths at practices so that others would notice her as a valuable teammate. Nikki showed that hard work leads directly to results.
 
I was behind the blocks for my first race of the meet. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. I was nervous because I needed to do well in the race to make a good impression on my new coach. I needed to show myself that all of the hard work in practice had been worth it.
 
Before I knew it, it was my turn to swim. I remembered how Nikki was strong and fearless during her games. How she didn’t let her opponents distract her from her zone. I felt like she was cheering me on in my head. I smiled. She was supporting me and I couldn’t let her down.  
 
“On your marks… go!”
 
I swam harder than I had ever swum before. Legs and arms pumping, I lost myself in the race. I ploughed through the water, using Nikki’s encouragement as my motor.
 
Before I knew it, I reached for the wall, my wet fingers groping for the bumpy surface. My eyes went straight to the scoreboard. I had beaten my seedtime by nearly 20 seconds! I smiled to myself, somewhat relieved. Jumping out of the pool, I staggered over to my coach.
 
I learnt firsthand that hard work does pay off. Determination, persistence, and the dedication to work hard are necessary to succeed. In my case, I began to achieve my goal times consistently because I tried to work hard in training.
 
Nikki became my motivator whenever I was discouraged or when I felt like I couldn’t try any harder. She became my role model as an athlete and more importantly, as a person. She has a great attitude that I look up to immensely. I recommend Nikki on the Line to anyone who feels like they need a push or something to motivate them to continue pursuing their dreams.

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