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One Hundred Percent of Myself

By Chloe Campbell
April 2008

I never thought rowing would be more than a sport to me, but it has become part of my guiding belief in life. I have always been a driven person and push myself to succeed in school, in relationships, in clubs, and in sports. I find it difficult to give up on a task once I have committed to it. Therefore, once I am involved in something, I always give one hundred percent of myself to succeed in it.

As usual, I do my best when I am rowing, but the sport has opened up a whole new level of “doing my best.” Rowing is a challenge for me, so I have to always work hard. Doing my best in crew is harder than doing my best in school or in volleyball. We use ergs, rowing machines, to simulate rowing while inside, and we “pull” pieces called 2k’s or 2000 meters. “Pulling” is the simulation of pulling an oar into one’s chest as he finishes the stroke.

I was pulling one of these test pieces once at crew and had a lofty goal in mind for my time on the 2k. A little less than halfway into the piece, I could tell I was not going to reach my goal, and my mental toughness and strong body began to crumble. I felt my legs shake as they pushed back on the foot stretchers. My arms felt like slack ropes as they pulled the handle into my chest. My breathing became short and irregular. I wanted to quit so badly and just fall off the erg. But I also felt a much deeper pull within myself. It was the pull to push past all the frustration and pain. I sucked in a huge breath of oxygen and began to pull again. Only 700 meters to go.

I finished the piece feeling more tired than I ever had after “pulling” a piece. I couldn’t stand up for a while, and my hand refused to obey my mind’s command to reach for my water bottle. I was frustrated with the final time, but I knew that I had done the best piece that I could have. The scariest thing to me was the feeling of huge desire to stop in the middle of the piece. I have never had such a feeling of hopelessness before in a sport, and it showed me how important doing my best is. If I am confident that I am trying my absolute hardest, I will never quit because I know the outcome, whatever it may be, will be the best possible because I could not have given any more effort to improve it.

When I am feeling tired after crew practice and don’t feel like doing homework, or when I am tired in the boat and do not want to row the last few strokes, I think of the scene in the book, Night, when Elie Wiesel is running in the snow with his father, and men are dropping all around them from fatigue and exposure. Wiesel survives because in his situation he did his best to continue living through the pressure of the hateful, armed Nazis in World War II. I think I can handle a tough erg piece if men like Wiesel have come out on the other side of ordeals such as the Holocaust. Then my tasks become easy.

In my life I always have the urge to get the best grade I can, to work my hardest in practice, and to be the best person I can be. This has been strengthened by my challenges in crew, but also because when I think about how many people have gone before me who had to perform at their best for more serious reasons such as surviving or building a country, I think that I owe them something. I haven’t had to struggle in my life, so I think that I can show honor to everyone and everything with which I’m involved by giving up a little part of myself to them.