Campus & Community

A Harvard tradition

1 min read

‘Welcome to Midnight Practice, gentlemen’

It is 20 minutes before midnight on a balmy September night. Thirty-seven Harvard varsity swimmers and divers stand in a circle on a shadowy brick patio outside Blodgett Pool. The upperclassmen have taught the freshmen the fight song “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” and the team’s cheer. A few rehearsals are under their belts. The men are milling, joshing, and preparing mentally for the 12:01 a.m. arrival of the competitive swimming season in the Ivy League. Oct. 1 is upon them.

Inside, Blodgett is dark. The stands, the water, the diving tank, all dark. Twelve-hundred empty seats. One light is burning — in the office of coach Tim Murphy. He has a dictionary open on his desk as he prepares to speak to his 2011-12 team. He and assistant coach Kevin Tyrrell have planned the moment, scripted it. They’ve done it before, and they will do it again. It is a tradition for the team to begin its season just after the stroke of midnight on Oct. 1, as soon as the Ivy League allows official swimming workouts to begin.

Welcome to Midnight Practice, gentlemen. Get ready.

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— Paul Horvitz ’72