As the warm water sprayed down my back, I thought about what had happened today. I swam my butt off in that fifty, and I really have no idea how I actually swam it. ‘Like the technique.’ After that fifty, I stayed in the same position; leading the third lane of the A-Strings. Thankfully practice was just an endurance day. Lots of kicking and pulling. Nothing too exciting.
“George?” Jeremy broke my thoughts.
“Yeah,” I came back to reality.
“I asked how did that fifty feel? You were flying!” Jeremy asked but Timothy’s expression showed interest as well.
“It felt amazing. But I have no idea what I actually did technique-wise, so I don’t know if I could actually do that again,” I didn’t want to admit that, but it was the truth.
“Well,” Timothy started, “you have done it once; you’ll do it again. Especially now that Coach Jones knows you can,” Timothy gave a concerned but encouraging face.
‘True. Now that Coach Jones knows I can, he is going to want that every time. Great.’ I sighed and just continued to shower off.
Thankfully Coach Jones stated after practice that if anything happens in the locker rooms he will deal with the situation accordingly. Meaning, none of the upperclassmen bothered me.
“Let’s hurry! Coach Jones wanted to say a few more things after we all change,” Timothy said exiting the shower, and quickly drying off.
As much as I wanted to stay in the shower, I followed pursuit of Timothy, and dragged Jeremy to follow.
“Everyone present?” Coach bellowed over the voices. Silence was his answer. “Good. Now I won’t be picking strings today, because of the situtation George and Kevin had today. I want everyone to be on an even playing field when I do.”
At the mention of Kevin’s name, I searched the crowd looking for him. No such luck. I returned my attention back to Coach Jones.
“For the first two weeks, I have chosen everyone’s roommates. Some new faces will be seen in rooms and some familiar. After the first two weeks, we will hold a mock meet to determine strings. However, do not be lazy during the first two weeks; I will be looking at your effort in those practices too, when I make my descion. My upperclassmen you may leave,” Coach looked to Bryan and nodded him to be the example.
“Head out team,” Bryan yelled as he swung his bag onto his shoulder and started for the exit.
I got several glares as the upperclassmen walked past me. Especially Bryan. ‘This is going to be a fun first two weeks.’
“Now my newest freshmen. You will all be rooming together. I have the lists hanging outside. We only seem to have five new girl athletes joining us this year, so I will be assigning the larger room to you five. All othe rooms will be of four people. If you have different prefrences for the arrangments I have made, tell Coach Steve.
He will be in charge of you lot until things are finalized in two weeks. Enjoy these two weeks while you can, everything will change. You may leave,” Coach looked to Coach Steve to intiate the departure. Slowly the bodies left.
Only the high school returnees were on the deck.
“You lot will have the toughest time,” Coach had finally looked up from his clipboard.
‘Nice upbeat start to the talk. Oh, Coach Jones.’ I shook my head.
“Yep. Geroge’s reaction is correct. It is wrong that you all will be bullied and pushed around, but I know it will happen. I do not approve of hazing, but know that whatever you exprerience is less than what your upperclassmen experienced when they were in your positions. Earlier when I said give the respect they deserve I meant it. The respect they deserve! If they don’t deserve respect because of their actions do not give them an inch. Those of you who cower in front of them now will never be out of their shadows until they graduate. Stand your ground,” Coach Jones’ voice changed from informative to engouraging towards the end.
‘Better. He is getting better.’
“If anything be like George,” Coach Jones pointed to me amoung my teammates, “He did not back down when I put him on the spot. He swam his heart out, even though it meant that all the upperclassmen would target him directly after. Maybe not all this year, but I expect several of you to knock some A-String swimmers out of their spots this year! Do not let your Coach down,” Coach started to pass out a paper. “These are the rooming assignmments I chose. You can make changes for these first two weeks, but then
several of you will move. George, Timothy, and Jeremy, stay; the rest of you leave.”
Jeremy, Timothy, and I watched as our fellow teammates made their way through the doors we had entered only two hours ago.
“So Timothy,” Coach interupted our thoughts, “where is Antonio?”
“He last minute said he needed to head home urgently. I’m assuming something must have happen to his family. He wanted to continue but family came first, I suppose,” Timothy answered.
I draped my arm over Timothy’s shoulder; I know he wasn’t showing it but he was hurting since part of his swim family was gone.
“I understand. Antonio told me that someone in his family was sick, and that he would have to leave aburptly if their health declined. I understand, but I am bummed that his career is probably over. He was an amazing Breaststroker. Well, now on to current things. You three will be roommates these first two weeks. I want there to be no possibilities for problems while you three are trying to figure out college life with swimming. Get into the rhythm, but don’t get too comfortable. Once morning practices start your daily lives will seem like a blur until you get on track. Especially when you move rooms,” Coach looked at me when he finished.
‘I knew it was going to happen.’ I would have to room with upperclassmen when the Strings are determined. I understood it, but I was hoping for at least one year of peace before being thrown into the chaos. I still nodded to Coach Jones to show I understood.
“Good. Now you will have one other athlete in your room. He is in the last place of the A-Strings. I wanted you three to be able to pick his brain about college life; that is, if the upperclassmen allow him to do so. He might be a friend or maybe a foe. You will have to determine for yourself. But it will prepare you for new roommates. Be strong you three. I truly hope to see you in the A-Strings at the end of these two weeks. If not, we will do another mock meet in the middle of the year. Nothing is ever set in stone. Now get out of here,” and Coach Jones walked off and into his office.
‘I knew this year was going to be hectic, but what Coach Jones just described is more than I imagined as a freshmen. Oh well, it’s the swimming life.’ “You guys hungry? I’m hungry.” I dropped my arm off of Timothy’s shoulder and scooped up my bag.
“I’m always hungry,” Jeremy swung his bag up too.
We looked at Timothy.
“What athlete is never not hungry?” Timothy must have thought our questioning looks were rhetorical.
We started walking out the doors of the pool. Our turf. And there in our path stood a guy, maybe our age; red hair, tan skin, and posture that suggested annoyance.
“You are?” Jeremy questioned the guy; he seemed like he would not be moving out of our way.
“I’m Charlie,” the guy answered, “I’m your new roommate.”