Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dwayne the Pool, Mama, I’m Dwowning!

It’s that time of the year when little things mean a lot.  One of Mr. Coach’s swimmers not too long ago posted on his Facebook page that pre-taper makes him feel like he wakes up with a hangover every day.  Discounting the fact that this particular athlete wouldn’t know a hangover from a hangnail, he does have a point.  During this part of the swim season, the athletes’ bodies are acutely sensitive to any stimulus. 

We recently stumbled upon a new and unintended stimulus.  Owing to an exceptionally dysfunctional relationship with the university’s maintenance staff, Mr. Coach walked into the natatorium a few days ago to find that about a foot of water had been drained out of the pool.  Without warning, the maintenance staff had decided that this was the day they would fix a lane-line anchor they got a repair request for about 18 months ago.  (I am not making this up.)

Well, it was what it was.  Practices had to go on.  But when your shallow end is only three and a half feet deep to begin with, that takes flip-turn precision to a whole new level.  And when they were able to start refilling the pool, that also meant the water temperature was going to drop a bit.  I came by afternoon practice just to see what it looked like.  It was really weird how a different water level affected everything.  The acoustics were different, the air temperature was different, seeing all the pool-length markings that are usually underwater was different.  But, most importantly, the athletes were different, too.

Mr. Coach and I stood there and watched them, doing their warm up.

“I’m thinking this might not be such a bad thing,” he said while we watched the team, chattering giddily as they did their kicking.

“How’s that?” I said as one of the athletes did a turnaround at the wall near us and shouted up, “This is so weird!!!”

“They were really dragging an anchor last practice, which is normal this time of year,” Mr. Coach said, “but now….”

We watched as a bunch of them were jumping up and down in the really shallow end and some of them were repeating flip turns against the really shallow end’s wall.  

“Now they have energy,” he said.  “I might have to do this on purpose in the future.”

Consider yourselves warned, kids.

[Incidentally, the photo up top was taken on this particular day when the university's PR department, with whom Mr. Coach has an equally dysfunctional relationship, decided that they needed to take a publicity photo of some swimmers for a cancer-research fundraiser (notice the pink caps?)  The drained water was about half-way refilled when the photo was taken.]  

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