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Carolyn Bolden In My Words

There are five of them. They expect us wake up at 4:30 in the morning. When it’s pitch black and 29 degrees outside, we haul ourselves to school, where we’ll stay for the next 14 hours. Rubbing sleep from our eyes, we stumble into practice, only to be yelled at. We’re not moving fast enough. We’re trying to get moving, but our sore muscles ache in protest.

On dryland mornings, the cadence of “up … down” makes us want to scream. There’s no stopping; you go until your muscles give out. On swimming mornings, our bodies cry out to curl up in a ball and sleep, but the cold pool jerks us awake. While the rest of the world is sleeping, these five are making us better, stronger, faster, fiercer. And this is all before seven in the morning.

By the time afternoon practice rolls around, we’re whipped. After a day of sleepwalking through school, the last thing we want to do is swim again. But every day, they inspire us to jump in and tackle another 7,000 yards.

These five have nothing to gain. They’re not here for their own glory or recognition. It’s not their times, their personal bests or their goals they are working towards. These five are here because they have one focus alone: make us the best athletes we can be.

These five create workouts and lineups, think of ways to help us improve and are some of our biggest cheerleaders. They are always thinking one step ahead, knowing what we need as athletes before we know it ourselves.

Thank you to Coaches Mike, Kathy, Kristyn, St John and Kelly. Your dedication to our team and sport makes us better athletes and we are forever grateful.

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