“Ok, the pool is empty,” Yena said as the pair entered the swimming area. She grunted as she dragged Miyubi's body along. She ran too much for the poor sloth’s body to handle, causing her to die once again that day. This mildly inconvenienced Yena, who had just sighed and continued to drag her along.
“Huh……. Oh, we…...are here!” Miyubi spoke happily as she stirred, finally arriving back from the land of the dead. Yena dug into her gym bag and rummaged through it, eagerly looking for the tool that will help her friend. “Here it is!” She cried out as she probably showed off her secret weapon to Miyubi.
She just stared at the hyena. “Those are…..just goggles.” Miyubi pointed out. “Ah that is what you think but look closer!” Yena smiled, bringing herself closer to the sloth. “See the sides and how they are blacked out?” Miyubi nodded, suddenly getting an idea of what Yena was getting at.
“If you can’t see the crowds from the sides, you won’t stop to wave and then die! This is perfect for your race tomorrow, and I even asked the coaches, who said that it is allowed.” Yena started rapidly talking about the goggles and how she found them from her friends that had trained to avoid distraction during a competitive swim meet.
“So,” Yena finally stopped talking about her swimmer friends. “Are you ready to try it out?” Miyubi smiled as she reached out to grab the googles, her hands gently brushing against Yena’s. Yena quickly pushed the goggles into her friends’ hands and turned away, looking at the pool. “Okay, so now you can just put those on and hop in so we can test them out!” Yena said hurriedly, eager to focus on getting ready for the race.
After about 5 minutes, Miyubi finally managed to walk over to the entrance of the pool, Yena waiting impatiently. Relaxing in the water, Miyubi placed the goggles on her face and gave Yena a thumbs up. “Okay!” Yena called out from the stands. “Focus on the wall in front of you and just keep swimming. I will try to distract you!”
Yena stood up and made sure that the bright flags that she brought with her were unfurled. “If she can focus while I wave these things, she will be all set for the race.” Taking a few deep breaths, she got up and shouted, “Ready, set, and go!”
- - - - - - - - - - - -
The crowd cheered as the swimmers flipped around at the turn. Hitomi, Yena, and the others watched intently as Miyubi kept on swimming. Despite being prone to dying from moving too much, it seems as if this was one of the areas where a sloth excels in moving. They don't specialize in speed even in this sport but in endurance. “And they have completed the 4th lap with 16 more to go in the 1,000-meter swimming race!” The announcers cried out.
Despite having finished the first lap behind all the other competitors, Miyubi was slowly catching up, taking her time as the others began to feel tired. Her goggles, combined with swimming plugs stopped her from hearing or seeing the crowds, as Yena had repeatedly tested the night before with her. Right now, in this race, all she could think about was focusing on what was in front of her.
“That’s strange, I wonder where Jin and Ranka are?” Hitomi asked, looking around the stands. “They promised that they would watch Miyubi race today.”
“Maybe they are too busy looking for the guys that stole the food to come back!” Yena offered, excitedly watching the swimmers. She didn't get that much sleep last night and was focusing all she could on cheering on Miyubi. She turned and saw the look of concern on Hitomi’s face. “It’s Jin and Ranka, I am pretty sure that nothing bad will happen to them.”
“Still,” Hitomi said, thinking about the pair. “What if something happened and they got injured?”
“In that case, we can go and try to look for them.” Kurumi purred. “We could split up into groups to cover more ground.” The others agreed, leaped off the benches, and were ready to head off. “Perfect, I can pair up with Hitomi and leave the others! It will almost be like we are on a date.”
Yena was about to join but froze up. “If I do leave, who will be here to cheer on Miyubi?” She looked over the swimmers and shook her head. “Nah, the last thing she needs is more distractions. But still….”
“Yena, you could come along with me if you want, I don't know too much about this pace and only a couple of the others do.” Hitomi offered as the others argued about where to go. “We should go here! This is where they would be most likely to be at to catch those guys!” MeiMei argued as she pointed at the school map. “You just want to go there to taste the food at the stands over there!” Kurumi countered. “That's not true at all!” MeiMei lied.
Hitomi rushed over to calm down the pair. Yena was almost ready to go with the others but paused for a second. “Still, if Miyubi wins and none of us are here to see, how would she feel?” Yena thought as she imagined Miyubi winning and climbing out of the water. Looking around and seeing none of her friends were there to see her win, Yena’s heart sank as the Miyubi in her head sniffled, her eyes welling up as if she were about to cry.
Yena immediately rushed back to her seat as the 5th lap began. Hitomi gave each of the bickering children a hug after stopping them from arguing. She turned back and saw that Yena was intensely looking at the swimmers, her eyes sharply focused on Miyubi. Hitomi smiled and ran back to Yena, pulling a bottle from her bag. “Here, make sure to cheer on for her, but please don't get burned,” Hitomi asked as she gave the bottle of sunscreen.
Yena smiled as she accepted the bottle. “But I don't even need sunscreen.” She thought as she waved the rest of the group goodbye. “Lap 7 and already the race has tightened up, with one of the racers having caught up with the others!” The announcers called out, bringing Yena’s attention back to the race.
As the minutes passed, the swimmers grew more and more exhausted from the race, yet Miyubi kept on swimming at a steady pace. One by one, she calmly yet determinedly overtook each simmer until only one more was left. A Bengal tiger, who is known as one of the greatest swimmers for a land mammal. With their speed and muscle mass, they are very hard to beat in the water, but not impossible.
“Go Miyubi!” Yena cried out as the 16th lap started, with the sloth only slightly behind the tiger. Miyubi was at the point where they were almost neck and neck, but any progress was slow, with the pair fighting for every inch. Flipping at the turn, Miyubi briefly got ahead before the tiger retook first place, not going to give up her spot so easily.
Yena was on the edge of her seat, her eyes fixed on Miyubi as she watched the sloth gracefully take one stroke after another. “She is so close; she can do this!” She thought as the swimmers finished another lap. She barely blinked in the time it took for the final lap to start, with the tiger still barely leading. Yena watched with anticipation as Miyubi still struggled to catch up to the tiger as they made the final turn.
Everyone yelled as loud as they could for their swimmer as the lap was almost done. “Come on Miyubi!” Yena cried out on the top of her lungs. “And the winner of the 1,000-meter breaststroke is.........