The Year 2022

This year, so far, has been full. As you may have noticed, I’ve only been posting chapters of my story. That’s only possible because I can write multiple chapters at once and post them accordingly.

But there are many changes this year. My daughter is three years old, and I cannot believe how time has passed. Her shoulder now fits under the lip of our dinning room table. She is expressing herself with words. She helps and takes care of me as I would to her. Now with her little brother on the way, I can’t help but remember when she was just a small little thing in my arms.

Next… my niece is starting to walk. She will be one year old next month. I just watched a video of a confident little girl strutting down the carpet. Last time I met her was a tiny peanut. No personality, just a little ball of love.

And next… my nephew is turning 15 this year. 15!!! My nephew who is now taller than me by about an inch. My nephew who I remember how he used to chase my dog, Sammy, around the backyard in his onesie. RIP Sammy ❤️ He is turning 15! That’s crazy to me.

The final one for now, but definitely not the last: I haven’t competed in swimming in almost 10 years. I still have dreams about racing, and I remember all the struggles and successes I had in my swimming career. But I haven’t done that in almost 10 years… that’s just amazes me. Especially since I did it for 14 years.

Which is why I am loving writing this story of a boy’s life of swimming. Not everything is from my past, but I’m able to get my desires out of my heart and into a narrative. It’s my way of continuing to live the swimming life without giving up what I have gained in these 10 years.

My husband. My daughter. My expected son. My home. My family.

As much as I love the idea of competing again. It can not measure up to the amount of love I have towards my splendor in life.

Year 2022, has been full; to the fullest. But I’m excited for the years to come. My days competing might be over, but I’m excited for this new adventure!

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 35

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 34

CHAPTER 35

I was doing as Coach suggested. I was going my normal pace now. When we first started the set, the guy Kevin behind me did seem to pick up his pace; because for the first few fifties, he was right on my feet. I only added about five percent, and I was able to keep him at a distance. However now, Kevin had slowed back down. ‘I’m guessing to his normal warm-up speed.’ Now he was following right behind me. It felt awesome knowing Coach Jones knows I can hold my own.

As I finished the set, I looked to my left and there was Jeremy. ‘Wow. He surpassed Timothy. But cool, he was keeping up with me.’ We nodded to each other, but we both paused long enough to catch our breaths before we started the next phase of warm-up.

Kevin came into the wall; I scooted over to accommodate all the other swimmers coming into the wall.

“Dude,” Kevin coughed out hanging on the wall, “why are you going so fast? This is only warm-up. You are going to tire yourself out.”

“I’m good,” I waited for the next sixty to appear. ‘What am I supposed to say? I am following what Coach Jones told me to do. This was my normal speed for warm-up.’ The sixty came and I was off.

I was impressed that Jeremy was able to keep up with me; even though now looking at him I could see that he might have used up all his energy for most of the warm-up.

“Keep it up Jeremy. You are doing great!” I called over to Jeremy as Kevin came into the wall.

“Scoot over,” Kevin shoved me towards the lane-line.

“Sure,” I quickly manuvered myself so that he would not shoved me directly into the lane-line. “Dude, back off,” I held a hand out to stop him from getting too close.

“Get off of me,” Kevin swatted my hand away and continued his pursuit to push me into the lane-line.

‘There is no reasoning with this one. What is his deal?’ I left the wall and started treading water just under the flags.

“Hold up!” Coach Jones’ voice blarred over all the talking. Coach Jones got up from his chair and was making his way over.

The only noise you could hear was the C-string’s finishing their warm-up.

“Now you’ve done it,” Kevin mumbled under his breath and glared at me.

‘Sure. Whatever dude.’

Coach Jones stopped directly behind our lane. I was still treading water, and all the other swimmers, including Kevin, turned to acknowledge Coach Jones’ precence. “I don’t care what is happening. However, I will not allow this behavior. We will settle this now.” Coach took out his whistle and consistently blew it until all the athletes stopped swimming. “Come!” Coach Jones bellowed and waved to the wall, “You too George.”

I swam back towards the wall. I was unsure if Kevin would actually let me reach it; his stare was like a death glare.

All the other lanes had now reached the wall. Except the ripples of water into the gutter, silence was once again present.

“Well,” Coach Jones started, “it seems like there is a disput going on already between two athletes. So we will end it swiftly and quickly; I want you two,” Coach Jones pointed at Kevin and me, “to race an all out fifty freestyle now.”

Whispers again erupted from the pool. ‘Why does it seem like today I am constantly surrounded by whispering?’ I pulled my body up and out of the pool; Kevin followed after me.

“George, lane three. Kevin, lane five,” Coach Jones pulled his stopwatch out of his pocket.

I started to jump and swing my arms. Every race must be taken seriously; no matter the reasons behind it.

Kevin was just standing still with his arms crossed.

“Alright. Seems like you are both ready,” the whistle blared calling us to the blocks.

I climbed the block, prepared my stance, and waited for the “Take your mark.” But nothing came. I still waited.

“Stand.” Coach Jones broke my concertration.

I stood to find that Kevin was not on the blocks; instead he still stood behind it with his arms crossed.

“Step down George, but keep moving,” Coach said as he slowly made his way past me and to Kevin’s lane.

I stepped down off of the blocks, removed my goggles, and walked away from the eye-line of Kevin who was still unwilling to move. I did what Coach Jones said, and continued to stretch, and keep my muscles warm.

“What seems to be the problem Kevin?” Coach said as he finally made it to the still stubbornly quiet Kevin.

I now had a chance to see Kevin. He must be a sophmore or junior. He was maybe five foot eleven, blonde hair, paler skin, and seemed nervous about the situation he was in currently.

“Why are my skills being question?” Kevin asked calmly. “And why for a freshmen?” Kevin was no longer collected.

So that’s why. It’s because I am a freshmen.’ I was trying to ignore the conversation, but it’s hard to do so when you seem to be the cause of it all. I just continued to stretch.

“Why can’t it be a freshmen? I need athletes that want it. That are willing to push themselves beyond my expectations,” I could hear the annoyance in Coach Jones voice. “Kevin you
have been my swimmer just as long as George has. He went to the high school program here, and you are now a junior. You are both technically on even playing fields. But do you see him backing down from this,” Coach Jones pointed in my direction. “Do you?”

Kevin glanced at me, and I made sure to be looking elsewhere. I didn’t want to read his expression. This was his problem; he should solve it.

“No. He is not. Because he has you backing him up,” Kevin mumbled under his breath.

“Leave.”

Silence.

I had stopped stretching.

“What?!” Kevin exclaimed.

“Leave. If you believe I am that type of Coach; someone that holds certain athletes above others. Then you will not do well on this team. Leave,” Coach stretched out his hand to the doors that we had entered in not long ago.

Kevin just stood there. Not moving once again.

“Leave or get on the block,” Coach Jones walked back to where he was standing when this all started.

I resummed my place behind the block waiting for the whistle. Coach Jones blew it and I climbed up.

‘Whether Kevin swam or not, I was going to give this fifty my all.’

“Take your mark….”

Ready.’

“Whistle!”

Gone!

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 34

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 33

CHAPTER 34

Even though we were all starting fresh, we still stayed in our beginning groups. Our assistant Coach Wayne said it was becuase, as we know, anything can happen in warm-up. This group has swam at meets together before, so we know our order and speeds already. If we were to mix with other groups for stretching and warm-ups, it would not be as efficient. We all now how much Coach Jones thrives for effienecy.

“Why are you all still stretching. Let’s begin. Upperclassmen do the normal meet warm-up, my newest freshmen follow Coach Steve’s command. George!”

“Yeah Coach,” I didn’t think anything of it; until all eyes stared in my direction.

“Lead them in the normal invitational warm-up,” Coach Jones didn’t even look up from his clipboard.

“Okay Coach.” I turned to make sure Jeremy and Timothy were in their normal positions, first and second. “Get in the normal order.” I called to the other athletes, “If you were never at an invitational meet, ask your teammate in front of you for the next set.” ‘I was right at home now.’

“Dude, look at them;” Jeremey mumbled under his breath, “they do not look happy.”

“No need,” I responded, “what’s the point. We are all going to be teammates in the future.” I did not look towards the upperclassmen. As Coach said nothing was set in stone, and I am determined to take a spot on the A-String. I put my goggles on and continued to warm-up my muscles. ‘This is the start of my future.’

The whistle sounded and I was in the pool.

It was great to be back in the pool. I felt a little out of place since its been about two days since I trained, but I still was able to keep ahead of Timothy. I have to keep up my best. The only difference between normal meet warm-up and invitational warm-up was about six hundred yards.

Flip-turn, push off the wall. ‘Man its great to be back in the pool!’ I don’t understand why the upperclassmen were annoyed that Coach Jones called me out personally. I have swam for him for two years now; I was the lead on that team. It is normal for Coach Jones to give me orders. ‘Whatever.’ Flip turn; one more turn and we start the set.

“George,” Coach Jones stopped me before I began the next part of the warm-up, “scoot over a lane and continue the warm-up leading this lane.”

Before moving, I looked over to where Coach Jones was pointing. and it was the third lower lane of the upperclassmen. I didn’t hesistate; I ducked under the lane-line and took up the small section on wall meant for the first person. ‘Nothing but glares acknowledged my presence.’

“George,” Coach Jones pulled me back into focus, “use your normal speed; do not speed up, you will be fine unless Kevin decides to speed up.”

Coach Jones must have been reffering to the guy behind me. Because I heard a sudden huff as Coach spoke.

“No problem Coach,” I got ready to leave on the sixty.

“Both the third lane of the A-strings and the top lane of the B-strings will continue warm-up together,” Coach Jones finished speaking just as the sixty came.

I was off.

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 36

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 35

CHAPTER 36

I felt like I was flying. Maybe all that actively waiting with stretching kept my muscles awake. But I felt great! Flip. One more lap to go! This was my race! Middle. My legs were flying. Flags…Five more strokes. Four, three, two, one. Wall! ‘Man my lungs are on fire.’ I gasped for air. ‘Did I even breath on that fifty?’ I had no idea what was going on around me; I was just focusing on air.

“George?” Jeremy’s voice entered my head.

Jeremy?’ I slowly gained more clarity and looked to my left and there on the wall was a worried Jeremy.

“Dude?! Why do you always push yourself to this point?” Jeremy sighed in relief as I ackowledge his precense.

“Because. That’s what I do,” I whispered with a chuckle as I continued my goal of breathing.

“Excellent George. Did you all see? This is what I mean by going beyond my expectations,” Coach Jones was now walking towards my lane.

I began to look around me and I saw the astonished and annoyed looks from some of the upperclassmen’s faces. I turned away from them and looked over Jeremy’s shoulder to see only bewildered faces on the other freshmen. I glanced at lane five but saw no Kevin. I looked at Jeremy quizically.

“He left. He never climbed up on the blocks,” Jeremy hushly answered me as Coach finally stepped in front of my lane.

“Well done George. I am glad to see that the week of vacation I gave you did not go to waste,” Coach Jones glaced back to his watch. “With a time of, 20.12.”

What!?’ I had no energy to react but my brain did. 20…I’ve come close to a twenty once during the two years with Coach Jones. But never in practice. I was stunned.

I could hear all the whispers of amazement around me but I really couldn’t focus. “Coach, can I cool down now?”

“Of course George. Do at least a three hundred. You will have to continue with practice once you are done,” Coach stepped back from the lane, stopwatch still in his hand.

I left the wall. My muscles were on fire.

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 33

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 32

CHAPTER 33

Finally the deck. ‘Oh how I’ve missed the cholrine smell.’ However this time, Jeremy and I walk onto the deck, into a crowd of people. All of them of course athletes, because we all had our swim gear bags with us. After introductions we would have a practice.

We weaved through the bodies looking for a familar face. We spotted Timothy by one of the pool ladders. We made our way to him. “Hey Timothy,” I said as we met up with him, “how long have you been here?”

“Not too long,” Timothy hushly answered, “But thankfully I got here before the huge crowd of people showed up. I’m amazed at how many people are trying to join the team; will there even be enough space for us returnees to have space in the pool?”

Jeremy laughed, “True. We might have to swim in the outdoor pool as well.”

I looked out the windows at the outdoor pool. Maybe once the season changes, but right now that pool must be fridged out there.

“Have you seen Anotnio yet?” Jeremy asked searching the crowd.

“He is not continuing this year,” Timothy answered.

“What!?!” Jeremy and I both exclamied at once. Then we remembered our surroundings, “What do you mean not coming back?” in a more hushed tone.

“He was planning on staying, but last minute he decided to return home. I think something happened in his family, but that’s just my own thought,” Timothy said expressionless.

“You doing okay? He was your roomate for two years,” I swung my arm around Timothy’s shoulders.

He shrugged it off. “Yeah. I lost a brother, but at least he is back home. But be careful with your actions George. The older swimmers here are not to be taken lightly; show no weakness in front of them or your life here is going to be miserable.” Timothy had turned his attention to the left.

I looked in that direction and saw what he meant. The upperclassmen had walked in through the opposite side door. They walked in with the attidude that Timothy was talking about. That they would crush you if you gave them the chance.

“Don’t worry about that with this one,” Jeremy thumbed at me, “he…” Jeremy stopped abruptly as Coach Jones made his appearence on the deck.

“Now. Is everyone here? I’ll give the few straglers one minute more, but if they are late they will have to wait outdoors,” Coach said as he watched his watch.

Silence filled the room.

‘The no nonsense Coach had returned.’

Two athletes ran onto the deck just as Coach yelled time.

“You two barely made it,” Coach said as he walked past the newcomers and to the doors behind them, and dead locked the doors. As Coach walked away knocking began on the doors. “Leave them,” Coach said walking back to the front, “if they wanted to be here they would have been here on time.” Coach turned to his new assistant coach, “Go out the side door and tell them to either leave or wait the two hours.”

The new assistant followed the order and went to crush those athletes plans.

“Now. As you can see, attendence and punctuality is key on this team. Some choices are determined by those two key points. Moving on,” Coach pulled out a clip board, “All my Montana athletes move to my right. This includes my returning College athletes and my high school athletes.”

Timothy, Jeremy, and I started to walk to Coach’s right. But also many faces from our high school days also followed. Then all the upperclassmen joined all the freshmen on Coach’s right. Which only left about thirty athletes still standing in front of us. One of those faces were fimilar though, it was Stephine from orientation.

“Good. A larger group this year than the last,” Coach continued to gaze down at his clipboard. “Timothy,” Coach glanced up and straight at Timothy who was beside me, “Where is Antonio?”

“He…”

“Nevermind, tell me after today,” Coach returned his attention to the athletes in front. “All athletes are welcome to join. My Montana high school athletes will all start on the B string, unless changed later. All you new athletes will be on the C string. To participate in invitationals you will need to be a B string or better. Hard work will determine your string. Now, all my freshmen on my right move to my left.”

Once again the three of us and a huge percentage moved to Coach’s left side.

Once all us freshmen had moved, I look to Coach’s right side. All the athletes that stood next to Coach were all the upperclassmen; and there in the middle stood Bryan from the hazing before. Being teammates with him is going to be a pain all in itsef. ‘Life here at school is going to be difficult, especially since we are no longer at the top of the food chain.’

“Good. These swimmers on my right, are your upperclassmen or seniors. Show them the respect they deserve; they will be your targets for the next few years. Your goal as freshmen is to bump these top athletes out of their spots. And you upperclassmen need to hold onto your spots; but know, there are a few here that will take your spots within the first weeks if you don’t up your effort.” Coach paused side glancing me.

Thankfully no one saw him or I would already have that target on my back.

“On that note. Practice begins. Each string will have an assistant coach. I will be overseeing everyone and deciding temporary strings today. Nothing is set in stone,” Coach walked away and down the deck.

Whispers erupted from everyone. ‘And I mean everyone.’ The upperclassmen were the loudest.

“What does he mean he will pick temporary strings? I thought my spot was final for awhile!?” Similar statements were being said until the assistant Coaches told us to get changed and start stretching.

As we walked into the locker rooms, “At least all of us have a fresh chance,” Jeremy started to change.

‘Yeah. We all have a fresh start.’

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 32

Life Of Two Best Friends: College CHPT 31

CHAPTER 32

Once we were a safe distance from the auditorium, I stopped and collapsed onto a bench. Jeremy collapsed onto the ground.

“What’s your problem,” Jeremy huffed out, “was it really that bad?”

I couldn’t think straight. I focused on my breathing before answering him, “Yeah, it was pretty bad. I didn’t know I had become so terrible at speaking in front of people who are not in the swimming world. But also why did they have to do that. I wanted to be known for my swimming abilites, not my academics. If I could I would drop the second major and just focus on swimming.” I dropped backwards onto the rest of the bench and threw my arm over my eyes to shield them from the sun.

“Yeah. I can understand you, but is normal for the school to take pride in the acedemics; they are a school afterall,” Jeremy had stood back up. “Are you good now?”

“Yeah.” I sat up and stared at Jeremy. I was still pisssed at him for poking fun earlier, but I know that is just his personality. ‘Let it slide.’ I gathered up my backpack and threw Jeremy’s at him. “What’s next?”

“Lunch. Moving dorms. Then the pool,” Jeremy started to head to the cafeteria.

‘The pool.’

Lunch was fantastic! Not as good as mom’s food though. But the cafeteria was huge; there were three levels of seating and different food stalls. It seemed more like a mall food plaza than a school cafeteria.

Moving rooms was also not too bad. Jeremy and I were still roomates. Also, thankfully the school roomed us with two other swimmer freshmen. Having roomates of different sports would have been difficult. Jeremy and I were the first in the room so we picked the two beds lining the wall side of the room. We are used to being in close
quarters, that we thought we would give the new guys their own choice on the other side.

“Getting into a loft bed after a long paiful practice is going to be the pits,” Jeremy said as he climbed the ladder and first tested out the bed.

‘True.’ I started to organize my desk and put my clothes away when the door flew open and in walked four guys. They looked a bit older than us, but maybe they were freshmen.

“So these are two more freshmeat,” one of the guys said; he had black hair and piercings on one ear. “These two don’t look like much. Right guys?”

The rest of them chuckled.

‘Yep. They were older. Hazing. It’s just the normal cycle of any sport.’ I know it was the wrong move, but I just ignored them and sat down on the desk waiting for what they wanted. Jermy followed my pursuit and sat quietly in bed waiting for the rest of the smack talk.

“What? No respect for your upperclassmen?” the guy who had started all this looked baffled at the lack of response we gave him.

‘Don’t respoond.’

The guy started to walk into the room but the other guys with him held him back. “Let’s go to the next room, Bryan,” one of the taller guys said as he dragged so called Bryan into the hall. The last of them closed the door behind them.

“Man, you could have cut the tension in this room with a knife,” Jeremy thudded back on his bed.

‘Like any school…’ I just shrugged my shoulders and continued to unpack.

“Your confindence is going to get us in trouble one of these days,” Jeremy said to the ceiling. “But I like your style when dealing with those types of jerks.”

I smirked when he said that. ‘This might not be the pool, but it is still my turf.’