She stopped when she reached the end and paused for a moment to catch her breath. It was still pretty dark though streaks of lighter blue were starting to show in the eastern sky. She checked her time for the last lap, it was better than before, but not good enough. She had changed her technique and bulked up a little to get the stronger push through, but she still had to work on her form. She set the timer again and started on the last set of laps. Her muscles had loosened by now and she could feel the smooth clean contraction, first of her arms and she adjusted the angle of her elbow so that her palm entered the water without a ripple. Then the almost sweet pain of her strong glutes and thigh muscles as they bunched and stretched. Her movement was knife sharp, and the water flowed over her in satiny layers, cool over the burn as she held her breath for six strokes, then eight. She could feel the change in pace as she raised her arms higher, and a rush of pure satisfaction raced through her. Halfway through the last lap, she stopped suddenly and let herself sink into the depths. She was almost out of breath but she felt cocooned there, underwater waves caused by her strong movements rippled and eddied around her, caressing her as she watched the sky lighten above. The sudden soft silence shutting out the insistent demands of the world which seemed a world away, as she slowly sank almost to the floor of the pool, weightless, free. Her throat and lungs were burning now, and she felt that gasping moment, that tightening, the call for complete surrender. She held her place for one more second and then pushed hard against the floor, racing up through the water like an arrow, true and straight towards the dawn, emerging from the surface like a Valkyrie , strong and powerful, the entire pool surging in response, the spray of water high, glittering in those first rays of the new day. Her body, her first urgent hard breath, her strength, at her command.

Her body, her breath
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