Hey guys! I’m entering this writing contest about “memorable outdoor experiences” and I’m writing about crew (obviously). I was wondering if you could proof-read my submission and tell me if it’s any good?
The First Row
Every rower remembers her first day on the water. Whether a mistake was made or not, the first time her oar touches the smooth surface of the water is a life-altering experience. She wonders how the stroke will feel, the blade slicing through the water, propelling the thin boat forward. She wonders how the eight rowers, none of whom had ever set foot in a boat before, would come together as one team. She wonders how well she actually prepared for this tremendous privilege and responsibility. For me, this experience was made even more unforgettable by the fact that I was placed in stroke seat, the rower in the boat who sets the pace. The stroke seat contains a great deal of pressure, since it is the seat that every other rower in the boat follows. If an oarsman in stroke seat rows incorrectly, then the rhythm of the whole boat could be off, and it could mean the difference between winning a race and losing. As I sat in the seat and laced the shoes over my feet, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic and foreboding. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the responsibility required by my position. But as I took hold of my oar handle and looked into the eyes of my coxswain, I suddenly felt a surge of confidence. My coach obviously thought I could handle this, and being the oldest and most responsible of my fellow novices (rowers in their first season), I knew he was right. So I sat at the catch, waiting for the order to start. “Ready all. Row!” At my coach’s shout, we shot back in our seats, pulling the oars through the water. The boat slid through the water, and my job began. I moved through the strokes, steady and powerful. Even as my energy drained and the pain began to make itself known, I felt a sense of euphoria. Perhaps it was brought on by the endorphins released during exercise, but I was more inclined to think it was because I knew, with an overwhelming conviction, that I was born for this position, and that I would not let down my team. We were strong and our strokes smooth, and for a team that had never rowed before, we were good. The energy on the boat was lifting; everyone was beginning to feel more confident. And then the unthinkable happened. My oar did not pull out of the water and instead dragged through it, which is called “catching a crab”. Catching a crab is a horrible mistake for a rower, because not only does it slow down the boat, but a severe crab could even launch the rower out of the boat or capsize it. The boat jerked, and everyone lost their rhythm. “Clear your head Lily!” My coach yelled, and I did the only thing I could. I gritted my teeth and pulled the oar again, feeling the surge of power accompanying the stroke. The boat regained its smooth path as the other rowers picked up my pace again. That day I returned home tired and completely drained of energy, but I was satisfied. I knew I could hold this position and guide my team. That first row taught me that I could be the person everyone thought I could be. It taught me that I could make my team come together and row, and that we could triumph.