Fun until you throw up
Gary Hall Jr. won two gold medals and two silver medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The 26-year-old American was part of the 400-meter medley relay team that set a world record. And his split in the 400-meter freestyle relay was the fastest relay split in history at that point. The 6-foot-6 Hall is now training for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Check out Hall's diary every other week on CNNSI.com.
May 31, 2000
How things are!
I have strong reason to believe that I'm dying. At any rate, I feel like I'm dying. Practice lately has brought on a new understanding of physical castigation, pain, and fatigue. It takes a concentrated effort to endure at this time -- let alone excel. As of now, that is my goal, simply to hold on. Endure.
The routine consists of a "daily double", two practices that last anywhere from two and a half hours to four hours. The average usually results in a total of around five to seven hours. We do take Sundays off. An effort is made to keep things fresh, so often times we will do dry-land activity. This will include running, jumping, weight circuit, anything physically exhausting, and speed bag.
The speed bag is the small tear drop bag a boxer hits over and over again. Bah-be- Da Bah-be- Da Bah, is the overture of every practice. It started out as a part of the weight circuit, a little boxing thrown in to increase hand-eye coordination. But it's turned into the team favorite. An unofficial competition has emerged from the group. I'll call it the "who can Bah-be- Dah Bah the fastest?" game. Here are a bunch of swimmers who two weeks ago had never hit a speed bag. Now all of us have these bloody hands from hitting so much. We're getting pretty good. There's an old saying in the sport, "If you don't beat 'em in the pool, beat 'em in the parking lot." We'll be ready.
The swimming is going well too. Lots of the "back and forth" and "stare at the line on the bottom of the pool" swimming, but also a lot of fun stuff. Fun until you throw up anyway. We push each other (in the most positive way) to the point of failure, a collapse, and a little bit of throw up. It happened to me this morning. I was as helpless as the "I've fallen and can't get up" lady. I had just enough energy to make it projectile vomiting, only landing a very small amount on my leg. Did you know... that I have a slacker reputation?
Everyone else within the group seems to be doing well. I know that they feel as tired and sore as I do right now. Somehow they manage to keep up the pace. I can't express how much it helps to be part of a group like this. Knowing that they are enduring this sensation of physical discomfort, somehow makes it easier for me. If they can take it -- so can I. There are times when I feel that that sentence sums this sport up. Who can "take it" the longest? Who can hold on without breaking? It's a race against time. A battle against the elements. Man versus Water. Endurance of pain. Endure.
Who knows for sure? Maybe it's just swimming. Eight people in funny looking swim caps and funnier looking goggles splashing up and down a pool. Call it sport. Call it swimming.
Until next week.
Yours in water,
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