Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Can't Spell Pool without P

This time of year I think about swimming a lot.

I swam varsity for four years in high school and still own some records around the area. I played water polo - mainly to stay in the water after I was told the "baseball team doesn't need swimmers". (It would ruin their image. "I'm not an athlete miss. I'm a baseball player." John Kruk) I swam and played water polo in college (I had to pay for school some how.) Three state water polo championships and one lonely trip (should have been three) to the state swimming finals in high school taught me a lot. Senior Champs...a lot more.

I love to swim. I love to swim in good weather and bad, but especially bad. What else can you do? I liked swimming and watching the snow plows roll around the parking lot. Or better yet, running outside and sliding down the hill behind my high school and getting full of snow...and then jumping into the pool. I could swim sets all day. Love it. The mind wanders and sorta goes into la la land thinking crazy shit. When I was literally on the edge of total exhaustion I remember openly debating with a teammate that I could fall down the stairs instead of walk down and accomplish two things: a) not use any energy because I had none - even going down stairs made my legs burn, and; b) not get hurt. I'd simply jump up at the bottom of the stairs and start walking after rolling down them like a dispatched James Bond henchman.

So December is a time of daily 10,000 yard workouts for high school kids and 20,000 in college. My personal record is (three workouts) 34,850 + weights and a "run" at 10,800 feet. December training sessions as a swimmer are brutal. Most nights in college I couldn't feel my chest, shoulders and triceps as I fell into a yardage induced coma. Often waking up at 3 AM choking on my own saliva I was so tired. You haven't lived until you've been screamed at at 4:45 AM by a coach who smells like Jack Daniels and beer salami (the breakfast of champions). Dues get paid. My favorite of all time was being called a "retard" and having a chair thrown at me (and then getting yelled at for getting the chair wet) for not making a 2:15 send off on the 39th rep of 40 x 200 meters on 2:15. I came in at 2:15.8. I wasn't "putting out" like I should. Hallucinations are free when you workout that much. Teams get stressed. That has to blow sooner or later.

Several of the things the men's college team did to the women's team...(mostly, all disgusting)

Exhibit A:
During long "conditioning" sets - like 10 x 400 IM on 5 minutes from the block aren't hard enough - the men's team used to do flip turns and trade lanes in order to help the sets go by. Try it. Next time you do an 800, 1000 or 1,500 - at the end of each lap flip and push off in the other lane. In the "old days" we'd do this holding 53 to 58/100 yards and be very comfortable - sick, I know, but this is NCAA Div. I swimming and not suburban masters. Once you got to the end of the "men's lanes" guys would push off into the women's lanes and tap feet, pull on ankles and pee. Then you flip right back into your lane until you were back. I can pee no problem while swimming and even racing (note to drafters in the water) but I could never do #2. Yeah...some guys tried. Its like forcing a "rain out" in baseball.

Exhibit B:
Driving to Estes Park, Colorado for six weeks of gasping for air and hyperventilating during workouts we had one guy who was ripped...and liked to "press the pickle" at the women's team bus, single women's cars, old people...hell, people. When "talked to" by the coach his response was, "What? It's just a human body." He'd do this in the shower stalls, curtains, windows, elevators...basically everywhere. P stands for more than just pee on a swim team.

Exhibit C:
Ever been on a long road trip and you didn't want to stop to hit the bathroom because you'd lose time? Go to the grocery store. Buy a can of pumpkin pie filling; darker the better. Grab a handful and wing it at a bus, van or car. What does it look like? Hypoxic training kills brain cells. Trust me. Means more than just P.

Wearing a size 26 paper suit (old school...dorky pre-speed suits) when you are a size 34 does things to a young man.

Exhibit D:
End of season (or career) parties are serious binge drinking parties. My senior year after the Big 8 Championship in "lovely", scenic Lincoln, Nebraska my buddies from that team held a party for some of the guys who were graduating. It was hot in the house. Everyone was horny, ripped and shaved down...and plastered. Yet another P. I didn't drink in college until after I was done with my swimming career and save for this one night...I was responsible. I was mainly drinking out of a pitcher of beer with a cup - high class in college. Then a "friend" traded me with a frozen bottle of peppermint schnapps. (Another P if you are scoring at home.) I woke up in my hotel with a very hot and naked female Nebraska diver on me in my hotel (I was fully clothed. She was naked) when I realized that we were covered in ice. A prank (another P) from my room mates who wanted her out of the room. Good thing because that may have ended in another P.

If you didn't laugh once during this blog entry you need to do a bit more hypoxic swimming.

Time to go swimming.


  1. loved the post bob! i think only a fellow swimmer can understand and accept this behavior. i still laugh about stuff like this years later and fear what the hazing police would have done. i wonder if younger competitive swimmers are still like this or if the PC movement has gotten a hold of them too.

  2. Yeah...a lot of what was done was certainly not PC.

  3. I totally remember paper suits... I'm just glad I wasn't on your college swim team.

  4. We usually just cut them off after the finals. So a typical Big 8 meet had each guy go through 8 suits.

  5. Good stuff, Bob!

    Just one question: Is it wrong for me to still want to do this kind of stuff at age 50? Hehe