The Underwater Window
Looking for a great end of summer read? Sad that Olympic Swimming is over? Look no further.
An excerpt from THE UNDERWATER WINDOW
A novel by Dan Stephenson
From the author:
In Chapter 6 of THE UNDERWATER WINDOW, we meet some of Doyle Wilson’s teammates, including the denizens of Team Jaguar’s “animal lane.” Almost every team has an “animal lane,” reserved for the swimmers who will try any insane set the coach throws out. I swam in a few animal lanes. I can still get pictures in my mind’s eye of swimming specific sets 35 years ago. The guys who shared animal lanes with me are still close friends decades later. It’s no coincidence.
—Dan Stephenson, author of THE UNDERWATER WINDOW.
Swimming at the top level is like a job. Here’s how it dominates a swimmer’s life:
Swim practice takes two and a half hours—three and a half if you count getting there and back, showers, getting dressed and undressed. Most days you do that twice, occasionally three times. Then there’s weight training. Some people run or bike or do other dryland cross-training. Swimming is six days a week, and some lunatic coaches add a practice on the seventh day. Add it up, and the time commitment is 40-50 hours a week. Maybe 60 for the truly committed.
In most jobs, you get a paid vacation. Swimming is year-round. When the short-course season ends, the long-course season begins. If you’re training for the Olympics, there’s no chance to take a real vacation. What are you going to do, anyway? You can’t do anything dangerous, like snowboarding. I went snowboarding once when I was in high school, just for a day. I only skipped one practice. I didn’t think my coach would find out, but he did, and he practically popped an artery.
The amount of heavy partying you can do is limited. There’s little time, you’re tired, and there’s a workout almost every morning. Every workout counts, and if you show up hung over, or start puking in the gutter, everyone knows. For elite swimmers, there are random drug tests which can take place at the pool or even at home. You don’t have time to watch much TV or blog and tweet on the internet, so you’re “out of it” in social conversations.
You definitely take this job home with you. You take the smell of chlorine everywhere. Your eyes get bloodshot, which makes you look like you’ve been smoking dope. Chlorine makes your skin itch and burn for hours after you exit the pool. Most swimmers, at one time or another, get a painful ear infection called “Swimmer’s Ear.” You get water stuck in your ears all the time, and then your hearing ebbs.
Many jobs are sedentary and physically unchallenging. In swimming, at every practice, twice a day, you inflict as much pain on yourself as you can stand. The whole idea is to make it hurt. You elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. You starve yourself of oxygen. You tax every muscle in your body. Every serious swimmer experiences some level of shoulder pain. Breaststrokers get groin injuries from kicking like frogs.
Some jobs are boring and repetitive. Swimming is drudgery. You stare at a black line on the bottom of the pool and count strokes. Thirty-two strokes per 50 meters. Ten thousand strokes a day. Three and a half million strokes a year. Swimming is relentless. It dominates your thought life in and out of the pool. It affects how you eat, sleep and dream.
Swimming is one of the most popular participation sports in America.
Excerpted from THE UNDERWATER WINDOW © 2012 by Dan Stephenson. Excerpted with permission from the author. All Rights Reserved.
Assets for Dan Stephenson’s THE UNDERWATER WINDOW
Paperback Edition, Watermark, June 2012
E-book Edition, Untreed Reads Publishing, May 2012
Dan Stephenson’s website
THE UNDERWATER WINDOW Facebook page
THE UNDERWATER WINDOW Description, Cover and Buy Links
About Dan Stephenson – Bio and Photo
A Q&A with Dan Stephenson
Praise for THE UNDERWATER WINDOW:
“Swimming World TV” Skype interview with Dan