A girl proves she can swim farther than she thinks.

Source : http://www.highlightskids.com/Stories/Fiction/F0100_acrossestuary.asp...

"I could swim to that tree."Lots of times Iíve looked at that tree on the sandbar across the estuary. It sticks out between the sea and the sky like a flag, and I think to myself, I could swim to that tree.

One day Iím sitting on the beach with my friend Duncan. The tide is in, itís all the way across to the sandbar. ďI could swim to that tree,Ē I say.

ďGo on, then,Ē says Duncan.

I put down my towel and walk to the waterís edge. Iím up to my waist in water before I realize, yes, I am doing it. I surge into the water with three heaves of butterfly stroke, just to feel how strong I am in the water and how the sun feels on my back as I fling out of the sea like a fish.

One, two, three, Iím breathing steadily and my arms are lifting in rhythm. I change direction a bit toward the left. I think about that boat skimming the waves, how the water splashing against its bow doesnít worry it at all.

I think about where the boat is heading, up the channel into the port where kids will be fishing for herrings as the tide sucks out.

Then I remember that story in the paper last week. My arms are going faster through the water as I think about it.

This man was fishing down there, and next minute there was a fin in the water, and it was near his kids, and he jumped into the water and grabbed that shark by its tail and wrestled it up onto the rocks.

My legs slash through the water. How could I forget about that shark? One could come up the estuary now, and Duncan wouldnít even see it. Iím just a dark blob of a head in the water and I could be gone like that.

I donít care about the tide pulling anymore or how often I get a bitter mouthful of sea. Iím sprinting through the water, which is suddenly so immense, so deep. No, I donít want to think about how deep the water is or what could be under it. I keep my eyes shut when my face is in the water. Anything could be there.

My arms and legs feel heavy. Itís that feeling I get at the end of a race when Iíve given it everything.

Iíve got to pace myself, I think, or I wonít make it. The tree is far off ahead somewhere, and the tide is getting stronger. My arms and legs keep burning through the water.

The tide is on the turn. Iíll be able to walk home across the mud flats later.

I settle into the water and begin swimming the crawl, my arms pointing through the sea and the riffly surface just washing past my face.

When I turn and look back at Duncan, he seems so far away. I must be nearly halfway, I think. I tread water for a moment, looking across at my tree.

It hasnít come any closer. I look back at Duncan, then toward the tree again till a choppy wave catches me in the face.

Up out of the sea I rise in a butterfly surge, and then Iím kicking through the water again, away from Duncan, breathing one, two, three.

I pretend that the sea is supporting me more than the swimming-pool water does. ďItís easier, itís easier,Ē I say to myself, even though I can now feel the tugging of the outgoing tide, and the salt water slaps my face more than I want.

The tree is far off ahead somewhere, and the tide is getting stronger.I must be nearly there, I think, and stop and look back at Duncan. His T-shirt is just a red blur on the beach. I smile to myself, thinking that not many people would do this swim, but I am. I turn my head to look for my tree.

Something is wrong.

The tree is as far away as ever. Itís still a furry outline on the sandbar. And the tide has pulled me toward the open sea, because now the tree is over to my left instead of straight ahead.

I see a white yacht skim past the entrance to the estuary and up toward the port. How fast it goes through the water! Not like my arms.

Then beside me is a silver flash. A flip into the water like a stone throw. Plop. And again.

Would a fish know if there was a shark around? Would it be showing off in the water like that, flipping up and down?

My heart stops pounding in my ears so much. My arms and legs settle down. One, two, three, I count my breathing.

I think of that little fish in the water and how much bigger and stronger I am. I think of all the lengths I do, training at the swimming pool.

I want to be back at home.

I want that yacht to come and get me.

I want to be on the beach with Duncan.

And I want to be sitting under that tree on the sandbar, happy with myself.

Suddenly the water is warmer. I stretch one foot down. Thereís the sand. I made it!

I surge out of the water, arms up high, and the sea spray flings off my chest into the sun.