"I made a
quick jump to the top," he said. "It was great. But once you're there,
there's no place to be but first. So every day I'm busting my brains out to
stay there. When I race I almost kill myself.
don't stay on top in swimming very long. You break a record and you say to
yourself, 'Wonderful. That's it.' Then everybody who thought the time you made
was impossible sees it isn't, and they do it, too.
"So you have
to break another record, and then the other guys do it, too. Pretty soon you
can't go any faster, can't break any more records. But there's always one
fellow around with enough desire to be on top, to be known, just as you already
are. Eventually, he beats you.
"I might meet
that fellow in Detroit or Rome, though I hope not. But I can tell you one
thing. If I do go to the Olympics, then no matter what happens, the major part
of my swimming life is over."
The frozen �clair
was almost gone now. Troy thought about all the long, pain-filled practice
sessions in a dozen different pools. "It's sure been worthwhile," he
said. "I'm getting a college education I wouldn't otherwise have had. I've
traveled all over the country—Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York. I've been
to Japan, to Hawaii, now maybe Rome. I've met some great guys. I've learned
what it means to win, and to lose."
Then, tilting the
�clair dish to get at the last drops of the chocolate syrup, he laughed. There
was one final benefit to be listed. "If it weren't for swimming," he
said, "oh, brother, would I be fat!"