Nelson still had a goofy smile.
Ah, damn it, Cris… why did you have to shout that?
Despite his embarrassment, he didn’t dislike what his manager screamed.
Doing something like that is so him… It’s too cute…
The swimmer glanced at the other competitors by his side.
Despite not staring at him blatantly, he could tell they were looking in his direction. Not only them. All the people who had heard what his boyfriend had screamed.
Now they’re giving me funny looks, he thought, blushing a little. Probably complaining about my ‘girlfriend’ who barge in the men’s locker room.
Suddenly Nelson shook his head.
Wait, I can’t be thinking about that kind of thing right now. I just promised Cris that I’d focus on the competition.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, putting anything that had nothing to do with the tournament aside.
When his head was clear, Nelson walked towards the third starting block. But he didn’t climb the little steps to stand on it. The swimmer stood where he was, waiting for the announcer say his name to the people that came to watch.
As he waited, the other swimmers stood on their respective starting block.
Nelson looked around. He was the only one who wasn’t on the starting block. Only then he realized.
They don’t announce each swimmer by name here, he thought with a sheepish smile and his cheeks a shade of pink.
Ignoring the odd glances he received from the other competitors, Nelson climbed the little stairs and stood on the starting block with his head down.
He could only see his feet and a little of the water.
Still in that way, Nelson took a deep breath. Then he raised his head slowly.
When he saw the view, he couldn’t stop smiling.
This… how much I missed this view, he shouted in his heart.
To most people, and perhaps even most swimmers, what Nelson was seeing right now nothing special.
It was simply the view of the pool from a little higher platform.
But to Nelson, it was the best view in the world.
From there, he could see the entire pool from a different angle.
He could see the other side of the pool and focused on his lane.
His goal was to get there faster than anyone else. And then get back to where he was.
Yes… this is where I belong, he thought.
With a smile of someone who couldn’t wait, he bent his back and touched the concrete starting block with the tip of his fingers.
And then, as he waited for the whistle to blow, everything and everyone around him went mute.
Nelson could only hear himself now.
His breathing. His heart thumping rhythmically.
He could feel the cold sweat running down his spine.
He could feel his blood rushing through his veins.
There was only him in the world.
There was no tournament.
There was no accident.
There were no other competitors.
There was only him and the water.
Yes… everything so far doesn’t matter, he told himself.
The world doesn’t care if I had an accident.
The other swimmers won’t let me win because of that.
The only thing I can do is to swim as fast as I can.
Just like always.
For a brief second, he glanced at the spectators.
It was easy to find the man he had fallen in love with.
But the face that helped and supported him so many times, the face that without him, Nelson wouldn’t have gotten where he was, that face that usually had the cutest or the slyest smile in the world, was tense and nervous.
And that face put a smile on Nelson.
I don’t wanna see that, the swimmer thought, facing the other side of the pool again. I wanna see Cris smiling all the time. That’s what suits him best. The cutest smile… and also saying the slyest comments as if it’s nothing at the same time…
The thought made Nelson chuckle.
Guess that I’m a masochist… I can’t believe I like when he teases me…
Yes… and I wanna see that smile for a long time…
I wanna be by his side. As his boyfriend and as his swimmer.
I just wanna be with Cris…
And for that, I need to win today…
Nelson took another deep breath.
C’mon… let me swim… let me jump in the water and do the only thing I can do…
And then, before the wait became unbearable, the whistle was blown.
The moment the sound reached his ears, he jumped into the water.
Nelson had no idea if he was swimming faster than the others or not.
He didn’t care.
All he cared about was to get to the other side as fast as he could. And that was up to him alone.
Don’t stop moving your arms and legs… not even for a second, the swimmer told himself as he struck the water with his limbs harder, getting faster and faster.
Don’t stop swimming…
When he was about to raise his head to breath, he remembered his coach’s words.
I almost did that again, Nelson thought for a second, raising his head until only his nose was out of the water. I can’t lose valuable seconds… especially not today…
He breathed as deep as he could and then put his head back in the water, moving his limbs again.
Now, the swimmer thought when he was close to the other side.
Nelson did a flip turn, placed his legs the wall and pushed himself as far as his limbs could.
With the impulse, he stopped swinging his arms and legs for a moment.
When the impulse was about to stop, Nelson began moving his members as hard as he could again.
I need to swim faster!
Even in the water, his body was warming up.
But he didn’t care. Nor it made him slow down.
No matter what, Nelson only had to get to the other side faster than anyone else.
His muscles complained with the effort, but he ignored.
It was nowhere near when he was reaching his limit.
So he moved his members faster.
The swimmer was almost on the other side. He could see his goal, his future, seconds away from him.
C’mon… just a little more, Nelson told himself, raising his nose to breathe once again. Just a little more, body… c’mon!
He had no idea how the other swimmers were, but he didn’t care.
He knew he was doing his best, knew he was swimming the fastest in months.
It’s not like before, but I’m feeling it again.
Like I’m flying in the water…
And then the swimmer was finally back where he started.
Nelson reached out his arm and touched the wall, feeling the inertia bringing the rest of his body when he stopped moving his limbs.
With his heart beating wildly and his body warm, the swimmer raised his head above water and looked to his sides.
He was alone.
There was no one there with him.
Nelson was had won in first place.
But the swimmer knew that wasn’t enough to guarantee his future.
It wasn’t just winning; he had to show that he could return to his former self.
He turned to the spectators and saw his boyfriend.
Cris was smiling, crying, hugging his cousin and jumping at the same time.
At that moment, Nelson knew he had done it.
At that expression, he knew he could stay in the club by the side of the man he had fallen in love with.
A few moments later, Yuri touched the wall too.
But Nelson was too busy smiling to notice.
Suddenly he felt an urge to cry.
He splashed the water on his face to disguise the tears.
Then he sunk into the water again and screamed as loud as he could.
When he raised his head, Nelson smiled and cried as he looked at Cris, who was doing the same.