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.
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….”