By Erin Greene
COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 4. BEING a great swimmer requires intense training, overcoming obstacles, and a mastery of skills while balancing personal lives. These same requisites are the very foundation for this weekend’s No. 2 box office hit, “The Guardian”.
The film, featuring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, portrays the lives of two men in the Coast Guard who struggle to prove themselves while dealing with troubled pasts. Costner plays the role of a bitter instructor who pushes a young hot-shot (Kutcher) to the breaking point.
This scenario is all too familiar for swimmers. So when National Team members, Tanica Jamison and Mark Gangloff, along with former Texas A&M swimmer, Scott Mueller, answered a casting call for experienced aquatic athletes, they fit in immediately.
Before filming, swimmers and cast members went through a week-long boot camp that mirrored the 16-week camp their characters endured. While these top-ranked swimmers are equipped with the tools to deal with physical and mental pain, they maintained that the boot camp proved strenuous even for them.
“It was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Jamison said. “With swimming, you learn how to swim through the pain. This was different pain. You have officers yelling at you, and have to learn how to do the same things together and how to do drills. Getting through a tough set doesn’t even compare to that week.”
Jamison used the lessons she learned as a swimmer to get her through the intense week.
“You just keep at it,” she said. “You keep your goal and dream in mind and do all you can to achieve your goals.”
Not only did the swimmers carry lessons from their athletic careers onto the set, they swam away with new ones. Gangloff, who elected to continue training at Auburn instead of enduring the camp, rediscovered his love for swimming while filming the movie.
“I love swimming, so it was hard to be away from it,” Gangloff said. “[The experience] just renewed my love for the sport.”
The experience afforded other swimmers, like Mueller, the opportunity to discover a passion for something other than swimming. Acting appealed to Mueller, who currently balances his job at a law firm while coaching, for the same reasons he loved swimming. For that reason, he has decided to relocate and pursue a career in acting.
“It was a wonderful experience and acting seems very competitive like swimming,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work and in some cases a little bit of luck to succeed.”
Each swimmer went home with different revelations, but one thing they all shared was a newfound respect for members of the Coast Guard.
“I respect the people who go through that training,” Gangloff said. “You never think those guys go through such intense training, but they do.”
Gangloff knows this first hand because the petty officers and master chiefs in the movie are actually members of the Coast Guard off-screen. Jamison developed a new perspective when she realized officers and coaches yelled for different reasons.
“They weren’t yelling just to yell,” she said. “They do it to save lives.”
When looked at that way, 6 a.m. workouts, two-a-days and distance sets do not seem too difficult. Although swimming to compete and swimming to save lives are vastly different, they share many of the same necessary qualities. As proven by the swimmers in this film, determination and perseverance are the tools necessary to be successful both in and out of the water.