Like many, today was his first day back in the pool for the year. Wow, what a turn up..there were people everywhere. He carefully negotiated the change room and then approached the pool deck knowing just what was in store… pain. Well pain and other emotions as well. He was happy to be there. Long gone were the coercive threats of parents and coaches. Long gone was the gut-wrenching miasma of elite competition. Thank God.
He dived in on the 45 second mark.. he didn’t know why he did it. Maybe a revolt against the thousands of hours he was challenged to ‘leave on the top’. It was a habit now. He had resolved to swim a 1 k warm up as he knew that leaving the programme to chance was folly. The water seemed to welcome him in its usual ambivalent embrace. It felt good, like the lights being switched on; like every pore on his body gasping relief in unison. It was good. In some strange and probably perverse way it defined him.
But the rest was crap as he suspected. The warm up was hard enough and he was just glad today that none of his sparring partners were amongst the throng. Ah well, early in the season he consoled himself but he reflected later that it was definitely getting harder each year.
He smelt the higher concentration of uric acid amidst the swirling, volatile chlorine fumes. That was to be expected he supposed…but he smelt something else as well. He couldn’t place it until his head cleared a little in the warm down. It was the smell of resolution. He looked around as he breathed a lot more heavily than he should and he smelt it and observed it. It hung like the sword of damacles over his determined, anxious and mottley partners. It wasn’t a smell really – more a stench. Good on you he thought to himself as he looked more closely at the punters whom he had been swimming into and over for the past hour.. good on you. He really hoped they’d still be there next week.