How to Breathe Underwater
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 14th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she’s been a part of her whole life.
Now in a new home, new school, and faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.
As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?
The door slammed shut behind us, and all the movement in the room stopped. Spectators peppered the bleachers, and girls in full-body swimsuits hovered around the starting blocks. The only ones who didn’t stop to rubberneck were the girls in the pool. They were running drills, and they had no idea that the universe outside of the pool had seemingly been thrown into suspension.
“Kate!” An Asian woman who must have been Coach Wu approached me with a smile, her face wrinkling around the edges. Her eyes went to Michael.
“I’ll just wait over here,” he said in lieu of an introduction. He pointed to the bleachers.
“Let’s talk in here.” Coach Wu gestured toward an open, generically decorated office. I turned to follow her, but at the last second, I looked behind me. Every single girl, even the ones in the pool, who had completed their drills and were floating with their arms draped over the side, was staring at me. Some of them just looked, some of them whispered to each other, and some of them watched me, their eyebrows furrowed or their faces twisted into rude expressions.
I stood there, taking it all in, and suddenly, everything turned villainous. The smell of the chlorine burned my eyes, the moisture in the air made me sweat, the eyes of the girls on me felt like pinpricks, stabbing into my skin. The room became a monster, ready to swallow me whole.
I’d been swimming for ten years. My whole life, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep was nothing but the water, but standing in front of these people, knowing that I was an outsider, I felt the panic start in my stomach again and my head go fuzzy.
I pressed my back to the wall and bent over, trying to catch my breath, and I could feel everyone in the room looking at me. I covered my face with my hands and sucked in a breath. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me here, in front of everyone.
“Kate! Wake up! What was that first split? You call that pulling out ahead? You call that your best?”
He wasn’t here. My father wasn’t here. He couldn’t make me get in that pool. I straightened up to see the look on Coach Wu’s face, concern and horror.
My father’s pride had turned into this woman’s distress. The cheers of my former swim team had turned into the judgmental storm cloud of the girls by the pool. My satisfaction at being good at something had turned into this pain in my torso, this aching need to never do any of it again
“I don’t want to do this.”
Coach Wu froze. Across the room, Michael watched us.
“I’m sorry, Coach. I know you probably had big plans for me, but I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to compete anymore.”
“But. . . ,” Coach Wu started.
Behind me, I could hear the team starting to talk, their whispers loud in the echoing room, some of them even giggling.
Coach Wu stepped to the side to see around me. “Girls! One arm drills! Now! Switch off!” Her eyes were back on me then, her arms crossed tight. “Kate, your mother—”
“I know,” I said. “I’ll talk to her.”
“I don’t understand. You have so much potential. What about college?”
“I’m sorry,” I muttered, and I turned and left.
Born and raised in Texas, I don’t act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country music. I have a gorgeous husband, two dogs, and a Literature degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. If I’m not at home reading a book or doing laundry, I’m probably at the bookstore, nannying three rambunctious boys, or stuck on the side of the road with car trouble. I’m a reader, a writer, and a bit of a crazy person.