Sea and Sky:

Olympic Trials: Sink or Swim

by Sevenall

Dick loves to watch Garth watching television. Not any old television but the Olympic Games, the World Championships, even the National Championships as the swimmers battle it out in the pool. It's one of the few things Garth will watch on TV and one of the even fewer to make him cross. Believe it or not, during the Olympics, Garth is actually cranky.

The butterfly stroke alone is enough to send Garth into apoplexy.

"What are they doing?" he asked the first time he saw it. When Dick explained that yes, the swimmers were in fact throwing themselves out of the water and down again with each stroke, Garth looked at him as if he reconsidered the trade treaty; he'd rather deal with cabbage than with a race who would do that in water.

The breast stroke had much the same effect, only it wasn't such a shock, Garth already having already seen the swimmers thrash around in the butterfly event. The back stroke was acknowledged with a short nod as something even the best Atlanteans did at times, until an under-water camera close-up showed the allegedly illegal dolphin kick turn by Kosuke Kitajima. According to Garth, all the back stroke turns should be illegal and a formal apology presented to dolphins everywhere. The medley, which tends to reveal each swimmer's particular weakness distracted Garth to the degree that he inhaled a full glass of water instead of swallowing it; when he tried to speak shortly afterwards, he spouted water all over the coffee table. Still, it's the freestyle that really fires him up.

Dick isn't really sure why, since Garth has admitted that Ian Thorpe doesn't look bad in the water, for a surfacer, and has even gone so far as to say that the indentation in Pietr van den Hoogenband's breastbone does makes for superb fluid dynamics. Young Michael Phelps with his seven medal tally has also met with something less than disapproval. Out of the water, Garth reluctantly admires Thorpe's anatomy, especially the big feet. When Thorpe kicks, the swimmers on the adjacent tracks are thrown off course by the surge. Someone has described it as being sucked into a washing machine. They should try swimming with Garth.

Because once you've seen Garth in the water, you're pretty much spoiled for the Thorpes and the van den Hoogenbands of this world. The speed, the power and the control are unparalleled to anything Dick has ever seen and he knows that Garth doesn't cut loose with a surfacer in the water. Any Atlantean might be as superior, of course, but Garth is who Dick watches, even if all of Atlantis would be swimming by.

But Garth isn't in the water, most of the time. He sleeps at the Bludhaven apartment, commutes to the UN building in NYC for his Embassy duties and goes to Gotham to meet with Bruce at Wayne Industries. When he goes to Atlantis, he meets with Arthur and the Council, then hurries back. He uses the spell twice a day and spends a lot of time in the shower. If the Olympic swimmers are out of their element, so is he and maybe that's why it angers him to see how ridiculous they look. How they flail and thrash and flop. It's one thing to make a dedicated sacrifice, quite another to look stupid while you're doing it.

"Craig Stevens,"Garth says with sudden and unusual heat, "has clearly no control whatsoever over his buoyancy."

Dick knows that neither does he.