Hidden Treasures / 9
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2017 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2017 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2017, “Secret Places, Hidden Treasures” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library.
Here we present the first of the two Grade 10 students tied for first place.
TENTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | THE STUDY
My community pool: a hidden gem
When I was six years old, I discovered a hidden gem in my neighbourhood: my community pool. We had driven by it countless times and I often watched with envy, the children playing games in the pool or doing enormous cannonballs off of the diving board. One summer, we finally decided to join the pool just for swimming lessons. After a few weeks, I became a regular at the pool and participated in many other aquatic activities such as Swim Team, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo, and Diving. Looking back, I realize that my community pool was more than just a place to learn how to swim, or to cool off on a sweltering hot day. Living things require water to nurture them. With it, they grow, mature and persevere. Without it, they struggle to survive. My community pool played a vital role in teaching me valuable life lessons, and shaping the person I have become. It was a place where I transformed from a 6 year-old, full of boundless energy to a mature 16-year-old lifeguard ready to give back to her community.
In my first few years at the pool, I learnt the importance of teamwork. I joined the synchronized swimming team. Totally new to this sport, I had difficulties performing some of the figures. One of the older girls, whom I looked up to, spent an afternoon with me demonstrating the steps of each figure, and helped me master the routine. With this small gesture, not only did she assist me, but also, she taught me that teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision, whether it be for the greater good of the team or the community.
I began to fully appreciate the meaning of competition. I was no longer a young child that received a medal just for participating. No longer was I praised or told, “that was a great swim” for fear of hurting my feelings. If I wanted to get a medal, I would have to earn it by improving my swim times. With only one spot left on the relay team for the championship meet there was to be a swim-off between a friend and myself, with the winner gaining that coveted spot. I desperately wanted to be on the relay team, which in turn, motivated me to improve my stroke and get faster. I planned extra practices with my favorite lifeguard, Alexia. She even taped my hands in order to teach me to keep my fingers together. Not only did I get that spot on the relay for the championship meet, but I also realized that success is not an accident. It is not the result of good luck, but rather the result of hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. I have since attempted to apply these qualities in whatever I do.
As I got older, I played a more important role at the pool. I assisted the lifeguards with their lessons. I would hold the young children’s bellies, as they splashed their arms and legs in the water or encourage them to jump off the side of the ledge, always there to catch them. I realized that just like my lifeguards, I had a positive effect on these young children. I noticed their excitement every time they saw me around the pool. They all wanted to hold my hand and to sit next to me. Looking back, I now appreciate how fortunate I was to have such wonderful role models myself. My lifeguards not only taught me how to swim, but gave me the confidence to further pursue swimming at a higher level. They inspired me, and always offered support when needed. Their kindness and hard work, often putting in 60 hour weeks is something that I most admire. It is these very qualities that I have and hope to continue to model myself after.
My last summer at the pool was particularly difficult. I required surgery on my foot and in turn I was unable to participate in any water activities. If this had happened at an earlier age, I would have been devastated. While I was disappointed, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. Instead, I volunteered at the canteen, I helped prepare the synchro girls for their competitions, and helped with fundraising car washes. I realized that I was most fortunate to be able to participate in a sport I love and it made me value every moment I could spend at the pool.
I have been so fortunate to spend the last six summers at my community pool. This gem in the middle of my neighbourhood has helped me grow, mature and see the importance of perseverance. It has given me the confidence to further pursue swimming at a higher level. I now realize that it’s my turn to give back to my community by sharing what I have learned and to pass on my passion for swimming. As a junior lifeguard, I hope to meet a six year-old girl, walking in to her community pool for the first time, so that I could teach her how to swim and all the important life lessons that come along with it.
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