Let me tell you about the crew instead. After all, it is them, s'posedly, about which swimming is based. Right? And any glory which supercedes and deposes their own is vainglory. Ain't it? Well, about the crew... summer's end brought more than the usual college exodus. This thing called higher learning struck hard on the ranks, taking Dennis Manrique, Larry Dalton, Dave and Richard Dixon, Jerry Richards, Rick Skarbo, George Saldana and John Powser to school. But while team strength was thus depleted, team spirit became inflated. A funny thing had happened. While the adults talked of dire calamities, and rivals trained eagerly, the crew discovered itself to be sufficient reason to progress. This end justified the means, and a new identity emerged--their own. The only folk who are ever in any kind of position to judge the coach--as a coach-- are the swimmers themselves. They are the ones who must fathom the currents both in and out of the pool...and I reckon them to be best capable of interpreting the motives, good and bad, of the coach in the area of swimming, for they alone are constantly exposed to all of its discipline and its effects.
So they went on ...that crew, and proved themselves to be noble because someone expected it of them...and then they learned to expect it of themselves. It's a curious thing about pain--real physical pain, I mean--it has a cleansing affect on those who experience it. Some psychology folk might say it's man's way of making good on original sin, a sort of guilt complex they are trying to expiate, but to any one of the crew it means a way of life...something you learn at the pool that you can carry over...the idea that worthwhile things come from sacrifice...a sort of feeling you have in the locker room when you're tired and cold, and your eyes are red and sore, but you know you did all the workout and didn't skip anything. So you go home tired and satisfied, and the next day you'll feel a little stronger. You'll stand on the line, still dry, still warm and take that first deep breath...the kind you can feel right down to your toes when you're in shape...and then you'll hesitate a little, but if you're a good swimmer you'll dive in and take that pain all over again, 'cause that's the way life is. Well, sir, when the meaning of that pain is distorted, when the only reason for it is to serve something regardless of themselves, the crew sees this, then they become confused. They sense a false purpose yet know the debt they owe this world that offers the lesson of pain. But if that false purpose becomes plain enough and the debt not misplaced, then the way is open for the crew to be honest with themselves...with swimming... with the values it's s'posed to represent. With such an attitude, untended by false fear or guilt, a crew can win, whether they're on top or not. They did....
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