The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the good morning rush hour. Driven by an inexplicable compulsion, I engrave the building along with ten other swimmers, inching my way toward the cold, sable locker room of the Esplanada Park Pool. One by one, we chemise into our even so-damp drag suits and make a mad dash with the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and kickboards on our way to the pool. Nighttime temperatures in coastal California downfall into the high forties, but our pool is artificially warmed to 79 degrees; the temperature differential propels an eerie column of steam up from the waters surface, producing the nervous ambience of a werewolf movie. Next comes the shock. Headfirst entry into the tepid water sends our hearts racing, and we respond with a agile set of warm-up laps. As we finish, our coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regimen of sets, intervals, and exhortations.
Thus starts other workout. 4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and a five-minute guide to school. Then its back to the pool; the afternoon training plan features an additional 5,500 yards. Tomorrow, we start over again. The objective is to cut our quantify by another tenth of a second.
The end ending is to achieve that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of a race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow we accept the pitch--otherwise, wed still be deep in our mattresses, slumbering beneath our blankets. In this sport, the resister is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyze the latest enquiry on training technique, and experiment with workout schedules in an cause to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning, and workouts are agonizing.
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