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Good as Gould
Cibola's George Gould is dominating the 500 free
Even though it seems to happen all the time, it still makes Cibola swimming coach Richard McClure nervous.
Swimmers will jump out to an early lead over Cibola senior George Gould in the 500-yard freestyle, leaving him — seemingly — in the dust.
“I still go ‘Come on, come on, come on George!'” McClure admits.
But eventually those other swimmers begin to slow down — the victim of their own foolish strategy. By the time Gould finally finishes the race, his body aching from five minutes of swimming, he can rest and wait for everybody else.
“This happens every time I swim the 500, even in duel meets,” Gould said. “People go out really fast and if you go out too fast you just die.”
According to McClure, Gould's time of 5:05 will need to drop down below five minutes if he wants to make it to the state meet. The second best 500 freestyle swimmer in the area — Gila Ridge's Logan Osborn — still finishes well behind Gould. The Cibola senior has it planned out that in order for him to get the time that he needs, he would need to lap Osborn once during the race.
“Even though there's not a physical person swimming with me there is a physical goal in the water — I have to lap Logan one time,” Gould said.
With Gould a lock to win the 500 by a comfortable margin with nobody in the area to push him down the stretch, McClure lauds his senior swimmer for being able to continue to push himself.
“He just has to swim his race and know his pace and how fast he's going and not worry about anything else in the pool,” McClure said. “He has a very good internal clock to keep that pace.”
Gould's large-margined wins are not the result of accident. He plans out the race — starting the first 50 yards in what he calls a controlled sprint while others swim too quickly out of the block. Gradually he builds his speed like a locomotive and by the time there are 150 yards left, he goes as hard as he can.
“The biggest mental part is your body is tired. At 250 you're halfway through the race and you have to swim the entire second half of the race in pain and still try hard,” Gould says.
When he finishes the race, his arms hurt. His core hurts. His lungs hurt from breathing. The entire race becomes five minutes of punishment to his body.
“Every single part of your body is in pain. It's awful. You're dog tired,” Gould said.
But at most meets, his work is not done. He gets to rest during the girls 500 freestyle — if he's lucky — before getting back in the pool to be the third leg of the Raiders 200 freestyle relay team and the 400 freestyle relay. He says that especially at invitationals, he just has to suck it up and punish his body a little more in the relays. And even with an array of strokes, it's the 500 where Gould is at his best.
“He's good at all the strokes but his speciality is the distance. The longer the race the better.” McClure said.
Gould started to swim when he was 4 and raced in his first 500 freestyle when he was 5. He noticed that he wasn't too bad at the long distances — maybe he had a future in it.
“When I was little, I wasn't very good at many events but I was OK at the 500 and it's been building ever since.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.