Article by Chris O’Connell posted on The Alcalade
Inside the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, a white-brick building on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Red River Street, waves of calm permeate the House that Eddie Built. A sea of crystal-blue water gently laps over the gutter of the pool and trickles back down. In its reflection two enormous steel fans silently rotate, like a pair of octopi performing a synchronized swimming routine on the ceiling. Every minute or so, the sound of flesh smacking the water breaks the silence, as divers practice on the far side of the pool.
At 3 p.m., the swimmers begin walking in, some of their faces familiar from atop 2016 Olympic podiums in Rio like Townley Haas and Joseph Schooling, the then-21-year-old who took down Michael Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly for the Singapore national team.
Once the pool is filled with more gold medalists than most countries, a 76-year-old man, the John Wooden of the pool deck, enters. He’s wearing a black T-shirt, khaki shorts, and black and white tennis shoes with white athletic socks poking up over the tops, an unassuming ensemble for the most decorated swimming and diving coach in modern history and the most successful coach to ever wear the Longhorn logo. He looks like your grandfather — and he literally is if you’re Luke Bowman, one of the 31 swimmers in the pool — if your grandfather was capable of winning NCAA titles in four consecutive decades, including the last three straight.