The day was warm and hazy, a typical Georgia summer afternoon. Clouds brewed in the distance but they would bring a brief sun shower at best.

Amy sat by the side of the pool pouting. Her parents had paid for extra lessons for her so in addition to regular swim team practice in the mornings, she spent two afternoons a week working on her two worst strokes: breaststroke and butterfly. Amy hated breaststroke and butterfly.

Beau crouched next to Amy. "What's wrong? You seem upset."

"I can't do it. I try and I try every week but I'm just not getting any better. I can't do it." Tears began to threaten and Amy fought to keep them from falling.

"What can't you do, Amy?" Amy hated when Beau did this, almost as much as she hated breaststroke and butterfly. Obviously Beau knew what she hated so why did he have to be so annoying about it? Why couldn't he just leave her alone?

"Butterfly, obviously." Amy rolled her eyes and let her chin thump down onto her knees which were drawn up to her chest in emphasis. She decided she wasn't going to look at Beau. If she just ignored him, he would leave her alone.

Beau didn't take the hint.

"Yes you can."

"No I CAN'T." She slapped the pool deck with her left hand. The sting of the action caused a few tears to slip loose and roll down her cheek.

"Amy, listen. You can. I know it seems like you can't, but you can. It's only been two weeks. Your butterfly is improving tremendously-- your legs always stay together now. That may not seem like much but it's a big deal. They never did that before."

"I know that. But what does that matter? I still can't do my arms right and I can't breathe." Amy couldn't understand how Beau didn't understand. He was just trying to be an adult. Now that Beau was 16 he thought he was sooo grown up. This is exactly what adults do: try and make stupid things seem like they actually matter. Amy knew better. It was a stupid thing and it wasn't progress at all. She just wished Beau would stop pretending like it was.

"It matters a lot. Amy, learning to swim isn't just about how fast you can go. It's about all the little pieces. You have to master those first. Think of them like building blocks: first you learn the kick, then you add the arms. Next, you add the breathing. Once you can do the kick, the arms, and the breathing right, then you can worry about being the fastest in the pool. You may win a few races if you just worry about speed but the best swimmers have mastered the basics. Next time swimming is on TV, pay attention to the swimmers' form. Don't worry about who's winning and who's losing. Watch their legs, their arms. I'm pretty sure you'll see that their legs stay together, their arms make a perfect keyhole, and they breathe at just the right time. Hang in there. You're much farther ahead than most kids are at your age and I know that if you stick with it, you'll get everything down in time."

Amy broke her vow to not look at Beau and turned to face the teenage swim coach. Truth be told, she'd never thought about it that way. Amy wanted to win a race and she wanted to do it now. She was a perfectionist by nature and the mistakes she was making were driving her crazy. But if Beau really thought she could do it...

"You're just saying that."

"No, Amy, I'm not. Come get back in the pool and try again. You've still got thirty minutes until your mom comes to get you." Beau stood up and walked to the spot he usually coached from.

Amy stayed seated for a few more minutes as Beau went back to coaching the other 3 swimmers in her class. Maybe there was something to what Beau had said. Amy didn't know. She chewed on it for a while, waiting for Beau to come back and ask her to swim again, to tell her how good she was.

He didn't.

Instead, Beau just coached the other swimmers like she wasn't even there. It made Amy a little mad. Eventually Amy realized that Beau wasn't coming back. She heaved a dramatic sigh. Unbidden, her mother's advice popped into her head: you'll never know unless you try.

Maybe both of them were right. Maybe Amy could be good at breaststroke and butterfly. She wouldn't really know unless she got back in the pool. Maybe Amy was actually improving and mastering the dolphin kick was a big deal. She just didn't know.

Finally, Amy stood up. First she stretched one leg, then the other. Next, she put her hands on the ground next to her and prepared to stand. Getting back in the pool meant admitting Beau was right and she was wrong. Could Amy admit that? No, she couldn't. At the same time though, Amy felt drawn towards the water. She wanted to try again. She wanted to swim. She wanted to learn.

The wanting eventually won out and Amy lined up behind the block in Lane 3 while Beau explained the next drill.

When he was done, Amy stepped onto the block with the other swimmers and got in position.

"Swimmers take your mark," Beau called from the side. Amy pulled back, coiled like a spring.


Amy went. Amy flew.

Amy did a perfect dolphin kick.

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