Senior Swim Team tryouts were held on the hottest day of the semester break. The pool water steamed, and the air was ripe with the smell of chlorine and burning flesh.
For some, they offered the seniority-earned promotion of entering the prestigious Senior swim team. For others, they offered a chance at escaping the miserable Freshman swim team for something better.
Zach was there for just that reason.
Gentry sat in a white lounge chair, lazily eying a clipboard. The wet black Swim Team shorts clung to his hips, showing off a lean, muscled body hardened through countless swim meets. His hair flickered in the afternoon sunlight like a daunting red flame.
With a hint of contempt in his voice, he read from the clipboard:
“Next in line for tryouts… Zach Tyler.”
He looked up to see Zach, with his dark features and those unusual blue eyes. It was always strange to see him without his heavy clothes and thick-rimmed glasses.
Gentry glared at him, and Zach raised his eyebrows in a quiet declaration of war.
“Do I just go in the water and start?” he asked, peering into the unclouded depths of the pool.
“Yeah. Get comfortable.” Gentry peered down at his clipboard and tapped the rim with his pen, ”You need to swim a 500 yard freestyle in under 10 minutes.”
Zach returned the statement with a curt nod, “I know.”
He positioned himself at the rim of the pool, ignoring the noise of the other swimmers or the pounding fear in his head. If he didn’t make the team, he would be stuck in the lazy, constantly losing underclassman swim team for one more year. The moment he pushed off the wall, an almost primitive urge took over and the world outside was by the water ripping at his sides. His breath came in heavy gasps, and slowly his mind became clouded by the overpowering smell of chlorine and the sensation of his limbs hitting the water. The number 500 flashed behind his tightly closed eyes, but he didn’t register how lap each went by. He stopped intuitively when the whistle blew, crashing headfirst into the wall.
Gentry’s red hair blurred into view, and his voice followed soon after.“498.”