Late Night Dip
Swimmers dive into darkness for their sport
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BRISTOL – A dark green Ford Explorer comes to a halt in a parking lot.
Senior Shawn Gleason, a four-year veteran of the swim team at Lewis S. Mills High School, steps out and walks into the Malone Aquatic Center in Bristol. Arriving at 9:43 p.m, he is already forty minutes late to practice.
Briskly walking from the lobby to the locker room to change out of his apron, black shirt, and black pants, he readies for the pool. Once out of his Wendy’s uniform he puts on his black-and-blue Speedo and drag suit. After getting dressed and prepared, he grabs his goggles and a shirt for the night’s drag workout and leaves the locker room.
He appears on deck, 9:54 p.m., already beginning to sweat from extreme heat in the pool area, despite the recent installation of a four-pipe venting system. Putting on his shirt and goggles, he jumps into lane three, joining the other swimmers.
Splash! The water hits his shirt, laminating it to his body adding additional weight and resistance to the swimming.
“100 fly on the top,” said the coach to the group.
Gleason goes second, following a fellow swimmer down the pool. Tired from the day and week, Gleason makes it down and back, then down and back again completing the yardage. Finishing, he’s exhausted and out of breath.
It’s Friday night, and rather than being out with friends or his girlfriend, like most seniors, he is out late in the swimming pool, for the fifth night in a row. With two meets that Monday and Thursday starting at 8 p.m. and finishing at 10 p.m., along with practice till 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, it’s no surprise that he is exhausted.
Not to mention Gleason works at Wendy’s and has ROTC, which takes up his time from after school to practice almost everyday. Gleason also has homework like every other high schooler, but with no time to do it before practice he has to do it until 2 or 3 in the morning most nights after practice. It’s a miracle if he gets four hours of sleep before he wakes up at 6 a.m. to get ready for the next school day.
Being physically and mentally drained from his workout at ROTC, work and school that day, not to mention the entire week, Gleason manages to make it through the end of the workout; consisting of multiple 100s and 50-yard sprints in various stroke.
The team finishes at 10:12 p.m. when Coach yells, “Alright 200 yard cool down,” after the last set of 50s, ending the night.
Once everyone gets out of the pool and stretching is complete Gleason reenters the locker room at 10:22 p.m. to get changed back into his black pants and shirt. With dry skin and hair from the chlorine, Gleason leaves the locker room. Saying goodbye to his Coaches, Kyle Saraceno and Reid Matusek, he leaves the building and enters his car.
It is 10:34 p.m.
11:03, Shawn makes it home to Harwinton and begins working on his trigonometry and civics homework. Once the homework is done it is already 12:01 a.m., Gleason decides to shower and heads to bed.
It is 12:32 a.m. and Shawn is finally asleep after a day that started at 6 in the morning.
He will manage to get five hours of sleep before waking at 5:30 a.m. for Marine training the next day; this is the most sleep he has gotten all week.
This endless cycle will continue for the next month-and-a-half before the winter swim season ends in March. With the prices of pool use cheaper at night, it is likely his brother, Chris, a freshman, and other swimmers will go through the same experience all through high school.