After writing up the first two of my favorite Chopstick races, I saw a theme. I love the races where she overcomes something. Her first swim ever, she had to overcome uncertainty and a fear of the unknown. In the relay race, she had to dig down to swim her heart out despite being 25 yards behind in a 50 yard race.
In my favoritest race ever, she had to overcome a self-induced hurdle. She was racing short course yards in Walnut Creek at an Olympic sized pool. The Aquabears run two courses, a boys side and a girls side and do a great job keeping them coordinated so the starts are staggered. Except on the 8&U 25 yard races. This is because the 25 yarders start on the other side of the pool so that the timers don't have to move. All of the amplification equipment is on the other side so there is usually some sort of starting block confusion. Especially when you have a boy's starting sound happening right after the long whistle for the girls.
Chopstick heard that sound, started to lean into her dive, realized too late that it was the boys' start, and just fell into the water. This happens all the time in 8&U races but very very rarely in the last heat. She pulled herself out of the water quickly and just looked at me with the cutest, most adorable, and most embarrassed smile I had ever seen. She just didn't know what to do.
So I made a joke (not a good one but I had to think fast)...."at least you're already wet now". She smiled again while the starter asked her to face the pool again for the start. She didn't have time for her OCD routine of checking and re-checking her goggles. She just curled her toes over the wall (no blocks on 25 yard races), got in position on the cue, dived in on the horn and ABSOLUTELY FLEW to the other side of the pool. Her first PRT was borne out of her most embarrassing moment ever at a meet.
The thing is, I knew there were multiple PRTs in her future (she's at 4 right now) but the determination just to swim like crazy after the false start was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen her do. Afterwards I joked that she should fall into the pool more often.
I've been more and more amazed at her speed in the pool over the last two years but that's dwarfed by how proud I am of her personal growth that's come from swimming. That embarrassed smile is my favorite part of her race for the simple reason that she got back in the pool and swam after it.