No matter how many years I’ve been away, I will always remember the sense of peace and calm that came with the perfect stroke. The stroke that made all the stress and sore muscles worth it. The irreplaceable camaraderie between crew mates because we were witnesses to our mutual pains and individual sacrifices and successes. There is something magical in that bond that slowly fades away when someone is no longer officially part of the team. That part stings. But I still remember those perfect strokes. Those moments of perfect synchronicity between nine bodies. The squaring twist of the wrist. The catch. The fierce kick of the stroke. The last pull to get maximum inches. And then those floating moments of rest, multitasking breath intake and a deep appreciating for balance. The perfect stroke.