The following guest post is by student athlete Jackson Auer. Jackson swims club for the Blue Dolfins and high school for Trinity Prep.

Surviving Morning Practice

5:00 AM

White noise. As you attempt to situate yourself from your upside-down, sideways, vulnerable position in bed, you raise your pounding head out from under its dark sanctuary beneath your pillow and burrito of blankets. You instantly regret the five hours of sleep you got last night but being the procrastinator you are, your sleeping patterns went awry long ago.

sleepy eyes

You look around the room in a haze and try to discern the source of the blaring noise. You quickly and dejectedly realize that you are not about to win Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as dreamworld would have you believe. You are not being chased by a giant, three-headed, winged version of your cat, Mr. Snuffles, and you did not just show up to school in your underwear. You are you, a swimmer, laying in your bed which you swear is always the comfiest, just as you wakeup for the dreaded 6:00 AM practice.

5:00.10 AM

As your ears slowly attune to what foolish noise has dared to awaken you from your slumber, you groan at the song that you set for your alarm long ago. Reminding you of your credo, the smooth and darkly melodic chorus of “The Morning” by The Weeknd lulls you back to life from your dreamy state.

All that money, the money is the motive
All that money, the money is the motive

Once a song that you loved and shared with every passerby, it has now transformed into a harrowed siren song that lures you to your doom. You have to go jump in a freezing pool and swim countless miles before the majority of the city even gets up to use the bathroom in the morning. You blindly stumble around your dimly lit room as your eyes adjust to the new change in lighting. You trip over your seemingly invisible swim bag and land in a pile of cat poop in your doorframe that wasn’t there the night before. Clearly an inside job. You suspect Mr. Snuffles.

Mr Snuffles

5:05 AM

You finish rinsing the cat poop off of your forearm as you curse the treasonous Mr. Snuffles for being such a conniving tactician. As your unfortunate excrement-filled mishap has shown you, today is going to be just one of those days. You thumb through the music in your phone looking for the perfect song to try and put your day back on track. You are determined to have a good day. You land on the song “Smile” by Uncle Kracker. The upbeat and cheerful sing-a-long nature of this elated anthem does indeed put a smile on your face as you grab your swim bag and school backpacks, grab a Clif Bar to eat on your way out the door, and hop in your car for the long sullen ride to morning workout.

5:10 AM

You forgot your shirt. Mr. Snuffles’ devious plan goes deeper than you thought. Pleased as he probably is that he had the foresight to see that his au naturalé homemade minefield would throw you off of your usual morning schedule, he is surely relishing in the fact you will now almost certainly be late to what will be the worst part of your day. Not if you can help it. You whip your KIA Sorento around, grab a shirt, and get back on the road.

5:12 AM

You’re going to have to make some driving magic happen if you don’t want to get yelled at by Coach. You plug your phone into your car and select the song “Gold Skies” (Elephante Remix) by Sander Van Doorn, Martin Garrix, and DVBBS. Elephante puts a sanguine, heart-pumping house beat on this classic Van Doorn track that just wasn’t captured in the original.

Coming up, coming down, look at all this love we found.
Just the sun, feel me now, we will live forever.

The kindhearted lyrics leave you feeling energized and in high spirits as you race through the ghostly predawn streets of Winter Park. As you make every single light and push your car’s RPMs to their limit, a smile creeps on your face. You aren’t going to be late today.

5:15 AM

Or so you thought. Blue and red flashing lights in your rearview mirror cut your lively mood short as you pull over and slow to a stop. 

red and blue lights

You let out a heavy sigh as the overweight, mustachioed, badge-abuser steps out of his car, brushing the crumbs out of the corners of his mouth; remnants from his early morning doughnut run. While turning down your music to zero as the cop approaches your door, you can’t help but sing the theme song to Cops in your head. It has become instinct to hum this trademark, catchy, reggae-infused vibe whenever you see law enforcement around town.

Bad boys, bad boys,
Wacha gunna do?
Wacha gunna do when they come for you?

What are you going to do? Sweat. Sweat a lot. Your parents will kill you, especially since getting a ticket as a teenage driver is classified as a death sentence with the price increase it brings. Your insurance situation will be hairier than Deputy Waddles’ upper lip. You’re going to need a new shirt.

5:25 AM

With a freshly written ticket in hand and a $179 asking price to boot, you finally pull away from the curb.  Seeing as you will undoubtedly be late now, you set the music on your phone to ultimate cruise mode. “Every Morning” by Sugar Ray flows through your car’s speakers filling every inch of the vehicle. You crank the volume up to put your mind at ease. The soothing liquid gold that is Mark McGrath’s voice streams through your ears and into your mind, removing all bad thoughts like a pasta strainer, leaving only peaceful reflective thoughts behind. You unwisely decide to take the scenic route by your childhood home on your already eventful morning drive.

5:35 AM

Ah, the memories. You cruise by your old stomping grounds slowly. A childlike grin emerges on your face resembling your former self as you spy your old tire swing, still just as ratty and as care-worn as the day you left it.

Tire swing

You’ll never forget that one day when you were ten years old that your older brother spun you so fast on the tire swing that you threw up all over your new Red Hot Chili Peppers that Mom got you for Christmas. RHCP was your favorite band at the time and driving down this old, cherished street, you turn down the radio and start singing their immortal song “Californication.” The peaceful, beautifully haunting melody mixed with the expert highs and lows that lead singer Anthony Kiedis is able to produce with his voice make for a perfect song that triggers deep nostalgia to your golden years. Every word of the song has been perfectly cataloged in your brain since age ten and you belt as the lyrics as you wave goodbye to your former home.

5:45 AM

Having spent much more time than you anticipated while sidetracked, you decide to waste no more time on your journey. This mindset is admirable, but you soon realize it to be futile. Being closer and closer to 6:00, more people are waking up to go to work, clogging the streets and causing traffic. You start catching every red light. You start anxiously rocking in your chair, rolling your fingers on the steering wheel, and checking the clock every other minute. Ironically, the song “Fly Like an Eagle” by Steve Miller Band pops up next on your playlist.

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin,
Into the future

You laugh to yourself at what was probably Siri’s poor attempt at humor. Your friendly robot secretary has grown sentient and is mocking you in a very subtle but jabbing way. She joins the doghouse with Mr. Snuffles.

6:10 AM

You arrive at practice a whole ten minutes late. Rather than listening to Coach yell at you for being a slacker or not dedicated enough to the sport, you decide to dive straight into the pool once you strip down to your speedo. You determine that now would probably not be the opportune time to tell him about your not so maiden voyage on the SS Lunes Chupan (see translation here). He will release all of his rage while you tear it up in the pool.

6:45 AM

You are well into practice now. Finding your groove as you suffer through the seemingly endless butterfly set, you pass up your teammates; feeling assured that you are making Coach proud and increasingly less angry with you. Without even realizing it, you begin singing the one song every single swimmer in the world knows by heart and by soul.

Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming

Dory’s iconic, motivational ballad from Finding Nemo serves as a reminder for swimmers everywhere. You groan as this song will undoubtedly be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but you enjoy the ditty nonetheless as you swim lap after lap.

Dory fish

7:30 AM

Practice is finally over, Coach is not mad, and it is time to go get changed and start your day. In the locker room, one of the boys turns on Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

Don’t worry, about a thing
‘Cause every little thing, is gunna be alright

Bob is right. He is always right. As you shower and get dressed for the long day of school ahead of you, you realize that you don’t have to try so hard each morning to make the day a good one. Your mood and how you perceive the day is a conscious decision. You resolve to welcome every day as a new opportunity, never closing any doors due to negativity, just as Mr. Marley’s happy, island-themed, peace rendering shanty tells you.

Jackson Auer

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Florida Swim Network