Gaines lacks the obsessive single-minded devotion of the other three old-timers. Last summer he doubted that he could hold out until the Olympics. After this year's long-course nationals he made a list of the pros and cons and tallied them up. But as Gaines says, "It all boiled down to everyone telling me, and my thinking that if I quit, 20 years down the line it would haunt me.
"I realized I was old," he says, "when Kim Brown of the Mission Viejo team passed me in a workout. I was just warming up and Kim, who was just a little 12-year-old girl, scooted right by me. I thought, 'My God, what am I doing here? Who else in the world is still busting his butt in the water at 24?' "
Well, for three, those candidates for a tar pit, Miller, McCagg and Larson.