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The girl who thinks she can (UNC)


canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 9, 2011   #1
What's the best advice you've ever received or given? 500 words

Ok so I have written 2 essays now on the same prompt. One about volleyball and one about swimming. I am still figuring out which one to use, but neither is done. I may even write another one because I have another idea.

The Girl Who Thinks She Can
"In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight!" A man sat at the table, strumming his guitar, and singing of all things, the theme song to The Lion King. This was certainly no ordinary sight at Prestonwood Country Club. Meet Honza Holy, the most eccentric person I've ever met. Honza Holy was one of the Prestonwood Piranhas swim team coaches.

I don't know what inspired me to sign up for swim team. As a child, I found the thought of putting my face in the water repulsive. Knowing that Prestonwood was one of the best teams in the league intimidated me. It was second only to its archrival, Lochmere, a team that had won the Cary City Championship for thirteen years straight. Nevertheless, I decided to sign up anyway.

I rode my bike to the pool everyday at four o'clock. Practices were hard for me; I was clueless. Most of the other swimmers had been swimming since they were three or four years old. I always swam in the slow lane where others passed me. One day, our coach told us to do 200 yard IM warm-up. I felt embarrassed asking what "IM" was, but another girl answered me. IM stands for individual medley where you swim fly, back, then breast, then freestyle. I didn't even know how to do a flip turn, which was required for my age group. I have no doubt that I had terrible form as my hands pointlessly slapped through the water, my lungs desperately gasped for air, and my feet occasionally touched the bottom to rest. But I kept swimming.

Two weeks had barely passed before it was time for the first meet. I came in dead last at the time trial so I was the last seed at meets. It took me over one minute to swim 50 yards; a good time is less than half of that. I felt like I was holding everyone up due to my lack of speed, but the coaches stood on the poolside screaming, "Go Lauren!" anyway. Each week, I shaved a few seconds off my time, but I was still the slowest and this was starting to faze me.

Before the Cary City meet, I remember Honza reading a poem, Walter Wintle's "Thinking", to the team. The last verse of the poem read, "But sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can." Last meet. It was me against the clock. Would I break my personal record? Yes, yes I believed I would. I plowed through the water in 31.93 seconds. Lauren Rackley was no longer the slowest swimmer!

I won an award that season for Second Place Most Improved in my age group. Proud of my achievement, I recognized Honza's poem recital as an admonition to me to stop doubting myself. How could I have doubted myself before? I became discouraged too easily and almost gave up. Now I am the girl who thinks she can.
issallme5 2 / 35  
Jan 9, 2011   #2
I really like this prompt! I think you can work with this one actually, although i didn't read the others. I mean your message is cliche but because of your personal touch it think it works just fine. But instead of expanding on how you keep coming in last place i think you could focus more on the part where you triumphed, make it more dramatic.

please help me with mine! it's due today actually :(
frankeinsteinz 1 / 9  
Jan 9, 2011   #3
Your essay indeed flows well b/c it's a story :) But I think you should make the last part, when you remembered the quote, stronger so that it explicitly stresses the prompt.

Thanks for your help anyway.
Good luck
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 9, 2011   #4
Yeah I mean it was hard to find the right balance between how I kept coming in last and discussing the advice enough. Yikes! I don't want it to sound cliche. Heesun, I will read your essay now. Thanks everyone.
ltpvan 5 / 35  
Jan 9, 2011   #5
A man sat at the table, strummed his guitar, and sangof all things The Lion King.

Don't break parallelism here!

I don't know what inspired to sign up for swim team. As a child, I found the thought of putting my face in the water repulsive.Not to mention that Prestonwood was one of the best teams in the league.

You're not suppose to have a positive statement here. For example:

"I hate ice-cream. As a child, I found ice-cream to be repulsive. But Dairy Queen has the best ice-cream of all."

That makes no sense. I have to say:

"I hate ice-cream. As a child, I found ice-cream to be repulsive. Not to mention that ice-cream are too cold for anyone's good."

I always swim in the slow lane, and other people always passed me.

Last meet. Me, the clock, and the water.

I kinda get what you mean, but I think you should make the sentences more clear.

Overall, your essay answer the prompt. I feel like you could make your intro. stronger. Right now, it's kinda weak and doesn't really contribute much to the overall essay.

Good luck :) . Take a look at mine if you have time. Thanks!
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 9, 2011   #6
I'm afraid you don't get what I meant. I'm saying that the fact that my swim team was so good was intimidating to me. Why would you want to join one of the best teams if you had no experience in the sport? Does that make more sense? I guess I will have to change it if people aren't understanding what I'm trying to convey. I want everything to be clear and concise.

As for the "Me, the clock, and the water", this was my attempt at trying to be dramatic. Swimming is a team sport, but also an individual sport. You compete against yourself, try to beat your best time.

Do you have any suggestion for a better intro? I was considering writing about some of the team's traditions. Like before meets, Honza would inflate a swim cap on top of his head. He would bend back and forth while he blew up the cap. It's hard to explain, but it looked like a mushroom on top of his head. And as he was doing it, half the team would chant "Preston!" and the other half would say "Wood!" Would something like that be better?

Yeah I'll read yours now. Thanks!
mariatateno 6 / 35  
Jan 10, 2011   #7
I love the idea!
You could develop some of your sentences more and use less repetition of certain words.
I especially love the ending and how you tied in his advice to yourself.
Goooood Luck!!
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 10, 2011   #8
Which words were you talking about that I repeated?
Surbhi 2 / 2  
Jan 10, 2011   #9
good topic
More development of your sentences and less repetition of words.
good job
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 10, 2011   #10
Which words am I repeating? You are the second person who said this, but no one specifies which words.
xlocicero12x 1 / 12  
Jan 12, 2011   #11
I really like this, you have a strong intro and I really like how you tie your title in with your last sentence. Its a really good topic too.

good job!
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 12, 2011   #12
Oh thank you! I was afraid my topic was mundane and other people didn't like the intro, but I'm glad you did! :)
adamq132 2 / 5  
Jan 12, 2011   #13
if you keep it as just the "lion king" in your first sentence you could add an exclamation point which would add a mental flourish to your reader and keep them onboard
OP canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 13, 2011   #14
Ok thanks. I'll consider that.
ltpvan 5 / 35  
Jan 13, 2011   #15
I came in dead last .... to faze me.

The organization in this paragraph is a little bit off. I suggest something roughly like this:

Two weeks had barely passed before it was time for the first meet. It would took me over one minute to swim a mere 50 yards; a good time is less than half of that. , and thus I came in dead last at the time trial, always becomingso I was the the last seed at meets. I felt like I was holding everyone up due toDespite my lack of speed, but the the coaches stood on the poolside keep on screaming, "Go Lauren!" to encourage me . Determined not to hold the team back, each week, I would shaved a few seconds off my time; however , but I was still the slowest, and this was starting to faze me.

Not the absolute best revision, but I want to show you a rough sketch, so you can go off from there if you like.

Good luck :)


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