Here Comes the Flood - Kate McMurray


Two years ago

Olympian Gets DUI

RALEIGH, NC, July 18—Retired Olympic swimming phenom Isaac Flood was arrested Thursday for driving under the influence after a night out at Mercury, a dance club in Raleigh. Police pulled Flood over after swerving across a yellow line. He had a blood alcohol count of 0.15, just under twice the legal limit.

Flood is one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, winning a total of nine medals in three Olympic Games. He retired two years ago, after his last Olympics, and has since cultivated a reputation as a party boy….

Olympic Diver Comes Out in Video

BOULDER, CO, August 2—Olympic gold medalist Timothy Swan announced he was gay in a video he posted on his website last night. In the video, Swan, 22, stated he’s dating Patterson Wood, an actor on teen soap Oak Hills. “I’ve never been in love like this before,” Swan proclaims on the video, with Wood sitting beside him….

January, this year

“WHAT THE hell was that?”

Adam stared down at Isaac as he treaded water. Isaac found Adam’s stare unnerving. He was tempted to dunk his head back under to avoid it.

Instead, he grabbed the edge of the pool and kicked his legs out. “What the hell was what?”

“Your flip turns. You’re doing this weird thing with your kick. I think it’s slowing you down.”

“Oh.” Isaac tried to mentally replay what he’d done. He didn’t think he’d changed his kick.

“I don’t know how I never noticed it before. Have you been doing it this whole time? Jesus. Okay. So, when you flip, straighten out your legs right away to push off. None of that fluttery stuff.”

“I’m doing fluttery stuff?”

Adam sighed. “Think about it this time instead of going on autopilot.” He took a step back from the pool. “Do it slow so you can think it through. Don’t worry about your time. I’m gonna watch on the camera, okay?” He picked up his tablet from where he’d left it on a chair near the side of the pool.


At the ripe old age of twenty-nine, after being out of competitive swimming for three years, Isaac’s body didn’t function the way it used to. In a lot of ways, swimming felt like habit, as easy as walking. But in others, it was entirely new. He couldn’t just hop in a pool and swim speedy laps the way he used to. So Isaac swam slowly, mindful of his strokes. He got to the end and did the flip turn, and thought about where his legs were as he came out of it. He returned to Adam and lifted his head out of the water. “Did I fix it?” he asked.

“Yeah, that was better. But let’s try it again. Get out.”

Isaac pushed himself out of the pool and got back up on the block, knowing what came next. Adam said, “Do it at speed now. Same thing. Straight legs. No fluttering.”

Isaac waited for Adam to get his stopwatch ready. When Adam blew his whistle, Isaac launched himself off the block. He put everything into his strokes, thought about the flip turn, came back. He grabbed the edge of the pool and looked up at Adam expectantly.

“You shaved six-tenths off your one-hundred-meter time. Do it again.”

Isaac climbed out of the pool.

An hour later, once Isaac’s limbs had turned completely to jelly, he was headed toward the locker room when a guy in a polo shirt snagged him. The insignia on the breast of his shirt indicated he worked for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Drug test. Great.

Not that Isaac had anything to hide. His heart rate spiked just the same.

“Test his BAC too,” Adam said.

Isaac gaped at him. “Coach.”

“It’s for your own good.”

Isaac frowned. Did Adam not trust him? “I’ve been sober for eleven months and eighteen days.”

Adam patted Isaac’s shoulder. “I know. We’re going to prove it.”

The anti-doping guy held up his case full of testing equipment and pointed toward the locker room. Isaac let out a sigh and followed him, resigned. This was his life now, an endless series of tests to prove that he’d dried out and gotten his shit together. No one would ever believe or trust him on that score again, which he supposed he deserved.

Luke Rogers—another swimmer Adam coached, one Isaac considered his chief competition for a spot on the Olympic team—stood near the entrance to the locker room, looking at his phone. “You see this bullshit?” he asked.

“What bullshit?” Isaac said, scrubbing his hair with a towel, still annoyed about the test.

“That gay diver, Timmy Swan?