RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Olympic training for Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff began, of course, far from Beijing - in Baltimore. And NPR's Noah Adams paid a visit to the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
(Soundbite of splashing)
NOAH ADAMS: A coach watches about 30 young swimmers. Their ages are 12 to 20. It's the beginning of a two-hour training session.
Mr. SCOTT ARMSTRONG (Coach, North Baltimore Club Program): The kids are just warming up, getting their legs loose, trying to build their heart rates up, get their bodies warm, making sure no one's going to hurt themselves right now.
ADAMS: Scott Armstrong is one of the coaches for the North Baltimore Club Program, which has produced seven Olympic swimmers so far. Michael Phelps grew up at this pool; Katie Hoff moved nearby so she could train here, and somewhere among the young swimmers in the water at this moment there could be a future champion.
Mr. ARMSTRONG: Oh, absolutely. There's multiple swimmers in this pool right now with a serious possibility to be a champion, yeah.
ADAMS: Would you tell them that?
Mr. ARMSTRONG: Yeah, definitely.
ADAMS: This is the Meadowbrook Pool. It's outdoors, trees all around. It's a sunny, cool morning. The team workouts take up a six-lane section, and every day starting at 5:30 the rest of the water is open to anyone who joins. Lisa Jampell(ph), a 50-year-old dermatologist, has finished her usual 1000 meters. He husband was here earlier.
Ms. LISA JAMPELL (Dermatologist): Actually, I love to swim outside. This is my favorite place. I mean, I've been coming to this pool for probably 20 years and I've seen all the Olympic swimmers, swam next to them sometimes. It's great, it's fun.
(Soundbite of beep)
ADAMS: For the team the morning workout comes to an end. The swimmers head for towels and energy bars. They've been chilly. But as one tells me, we're done working before most kids even get up. Let's meet Austin Serhoff(ph).
Mr. AUSTIN SURHOFF (Swimmer): I'm 17 years old. I've been swimming here since I was nine. I train every day, and I just got done probably the best number of my life.
ADAMS: Austin Surhoff is friendly with Michael Phelps but he's most excited about his training partner, Katie Hoff.
Mr. SURHOFF: She is driven to a point that I can't even fathom it right now. Even before it was her job, she was still laying the groundwork for it. When she was, you know, 13, 14 years old.
ADAMS: So let us imagine that perhaps eight years from now you will hear this next name and this voice. We met her as she was about to get in the pool for her session. Anna Steerman(ph) is now 11 years old.
Ms. ANNA STEERMAN (Swimmer): I've heard, like, people that are in the Olympics, like, having people look up to you and, like, you're being somebody's hero and, like, hearing the anthem at the Olympics and stuff. That would be just awesome.
ADAMS: But there would be a lot of work to get there.
Ms. STEERMAN: Yeah, but I'm willing to do all that work. I think swimming's kind of fun. Like even if it is hard, I think it's fun.
ADAMS: During the last four years, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmers have been wearing white practice caps that say Beijing 2008. In two weeks they get new caps for London 2012.
Noah Adams, NPR News.
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