My daughter did not find the sport that brought her joy until she was a freshman in high school. First we had a long tour of sports.... cross country, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse (I was even recruited as an assistant coach even though I knew NOTHING about any sport with offense and defense.) Then in middle school she tried volleyball and track and field. I began to wonder if there was a sport for her. When she was in 8th grade, one of her friend's father suggested swimming and she decided to give it a try. The summer before freshman year she went to a few stroke clinics and learned to do a flip turn. I wondered if she would stick with it when the real season began- six days a week in chlorine sounded like a demanding schedule. But with every week she loved it more. She was not a stand out but the coach explained at the start of the season that anyone with perfect attendance to all practices and meets would letter. At the end of the 4 month season Laurel was the only girl on the team with perfect attendance. Over the next summer Laurel again went to some off-season practices and continued to enjoy it. She still hadn't found her event but just tried whichever race they needed someone for. About halfway through this season each girl had a private session with the coaches to discuss goals. Laurel said her goal was to make state. Her coach said let me crunch some numbers and I will get back to you. Later that night she texted her and said I think you can do it. You need to drop 18 seconds in three weeks. So think of it as 6 seconds a week. Anyone in swim knows seconds can be tough to knock off, even in a long distance event like the 500 free, but the coach had the girls visualize meeting their goal. Laurel closed her eyes and pictured the time she needed for state and just kept picturing it happening in her mind. At the next meet she dropped six seconds. Then she dropped nine so going into conferences she needed to drop 2 seconds from her 200 and three seconds from her 500 in order to qualify for state. Justin, Owen and I left work and school early so we could watch the conference meet. The 200M free is the second event. Her split was really fast. I kept adding the numbers and tried to guess if she would do it or not. As she came down with her last lap I looked at the clocked, the entire team was cheering and yelling. She got 2:13.23. She qualified for state. I was so happy for her. 99% hard work is what got her there. It is hard to believe that 18 months ago she had never even done a flip turn and now she is going to state for two long distance events. What a fun ride it has been this season!