How My Inability To Count Cost Me An Olympic Gold Medal

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasms”

[ Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette ]

Talking about my reality of being a motherless daughter tends to add a sad feel to most of my posts – it just comes with the topic I guess. There really isn’t a light, funny way to breach it. But that doesn’t mean that my childhood was gloomy and dark all the time.

There were some pretty funny moments and there were other moments that were not that funny at the time, but pretty hilarious looking back. Since I share so much of the serious out here, I felt it was time to share a bit of the funny too.

One thing you need to understand about me is, that I am pretty good swimmer and rotten at math. I am probably the worst numbers-person you will ever meet – well, okay everybody above the age of 9 that is. I just simply don’t get figures.

When my father went to P.T.A. meetings he always felt like he had two daughters. He got rave reviews about me from all teachers – except my math teachers. They would always subtly hint at my “special needs”.

I am convinced I have mathlexia. Nope, that’s not a word, I just made it up. I actually checked on Urban Dictionary first, but it seems like my condition is so unique it has not been defined by the general public yet. I am special!

In any case except for being awful at math I was pretty darn good at many other things. One of those, like I said,  was swimming and I would have been the next olympic hopeful if it hadn’t been for one little event that happened when I was 8 years old, that falls back on my inability to do even the simplest form of math.

The pool I trained at with my swimming team was 25m long (approximately 82 ft.) But of course, since I hated numbers, I didn’t know that. To me it was just “not as big as the really big one”.

On the day of the competition, I was supposed to compete the 25m breast stroke along with the other girls in my age group. Seeing as I outnumbered them in hight and strength, I was bumped up to the next higher age group on the day of the meet. Now instead of swimming 25m I was supposed to compete the 50m. The problem was, I didn’t know what 50m was and for some reason I didn’t ask. I figured I would just do exactly what the group before me did. Well, those were the kids that were doing the 25m swim.

Seriously up until this day I don’t really know why I didn’t ask anyone how far 50m was. Maybe because this was my first meet and I was excited, maybe because I was so scared of doing something wrong, maybe because I really am slow but just can’t admit it.

In any case I got into this water and swam the fastest I had ever swam in my life. I felt like a dolphin. I was leading by more than a length and gaining with every stride.

Then I got to the end of the pool and just climbed out of the water, as I had seen all the other girls my age do before me.

Parents, well mostly mothers as it was in the middle of the day, were waving at me frantically, gesturing me to get back into the pool.

It took me a second to understand, but then I did. With my head hot and red more from the feeling of utter embarrassment than exhaustion, I jumped back into the pool and finished my lap.

I placed 5th out of 6 girls.

I was too humiliated to speak to anybody. I just walked to the showers got dressed and walked home.

When my father asked me how my swimming meet had gone during dinner I lied. I made up this incredible story about this huge swimmer with 8 arms and legs, that beat every record out there and would probably be on the news tonight, because she was just a freak of nature and no one could have beat her.

My dad gave me a weird look, but let it go. We never talked about it again. And he never asked why I didn’t want to go back to swimming practice. He just let me drop out.

But up until this day, I know the truth, and the truth is, that me having mathlexia caused me to drop out of swim team and ultimately cost me an olympic gold medal.

-Prove me wrong!

Do you have any funny childhood stories? Little moments that might have been embarassing back than, but are really pretty cute looking back? I’m sure you do and I want to hear them all. Please comment below and share!

6 thoughts on “How My Inability To Count Cost Me An Olympic Gold Medal

  1. Oh my god! This really exists? I’m going to look this up and present my dad with a copy on it on my next visit. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my little scribbles. I will be sure to check out your blog on my way out 🙂 Good choice in the husband departement b.t.w. 😉

    • Guess what?! I never even thought of that … . Wow – suddenly I have to compelling urge to attempt the biggest comeback in the history of olympic swimming 😉 Maybe they’ll have a senior competion soon – Woohoo better start filling up on carbs and hitting the pool – or maybe just start with filling up on carbs and take it from there – Thanks for stopping by and taking a trip down memory lane with me 🙂

  2. Love the story…honest and funny but also heartbreaking, especially for that age…My story is called “Abstractia” and has to do with my inability to think abstractly in a very abstract Philadelphia art school…my family calls it the “Ostrich Story”. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Julius, for stopping by and taking the time to stroll down memory lane with me and leave a comment. I really appreciate it.
      I loved the story of you and your wife(?) buying a new car – your writing makes for an easy read, which I personally find really enjoyable. 🙂 I will stop by for more 🙂

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