Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Pre-Season Panic Season

It is indeed that time of the year which we in the Coach Family household affectionately refer to as the “Pre-Season Panic” season.

Typically it begins a couple of weeks after the calendar turns from July to August. The subject awakens one morning (or afternoon, as the case may be). A stomach-acid panic attack suddenly grips the subject when it spies the pile of luggage and empty boxes that the subject’s mother has dumped on the floor of the bedroom some time during its slumber.

The subject stumbles to the bathroom and steps on a scale – only to discover that it cannot see the numbers on the scale because of the bulge of flesh blocking the view. The subject sucks the bulge in, only to confirm that it now has less than a month to regain the fitness and physique that will enable it to “fool” its college swim coach into thinking that it spent the summer doing triathlons, hiking the Appalachian Trail and putting a new roof on the local convent like it said it would back in May. (When, needless to say, the subject’s main accomplishment that summer had been something that involved five wooden palettes, 12 yards of surgical tubing, one herd of Guernsey cows, and a Latvian au pair.)

The subject lumbers into the kitchen where its mother has already laid in a supply of rice cakes and protein shakes. The industrial-sized box of Sugar Bomb Oaties has been discarded. After a 14-calorie breakfast (or lunch, as the case may be), the subject spends the next half-hour in the basement, digging through boxes still unopened since May until it finds a pair of goggles and a swimsuit, both caked with mildew but otherwise useable. And then it’s off to the local pool where the subject puts in a brisk 8,000 yards of swimming (half of it with a pull-buoy because too much kicking too soon is bad for the…well, it’s just bad).

The subject does not swim for the next five days but does ingest the maximum allowable daily dosage of ibuprofen and rice cakes. And it does go bike riding once with its grandmother who dusts the subject going up that one hill. The subject feigns a groin injury then drives Granny back to the nursing home.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, the subject maintains a scrupulous regimen of dwindling swim yardage, run-jog-walks around the neighborhood, more ibuprofen, and building a tan which would bespeak a summer of vigorous outdoor activity. By the time the subject returns to college, it has whittled two inches off a well-tanned waistline but gained an additional five pounds (all muscle, it insists). The coach takes one look at the subject, rolls his or her eyes, then says, “Open swim’s from 11 to 2 each day.”

Welcome back, kids!


  1. Latvian au pairs?

    It sounds like Mr. Coach has a variety of stories to share at the beginning of each new school year...

  2. Thank you, that put a smile on my face. :) As a coach of HS girls who start in mid-August they have already experienced pre-season panic and are into early-season anxiety.

  3. Best of luck to you, emjulian!! Hope it's a great season!

    and, TJ, it's always something new and he always wishes they wouldn't tell him. and yet they do.


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