ACT Reading Apr. 2017 74F - Passage I

Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage.


LITERARY NARRATIVE: This passage is adapted from the essay "Rough Water" by David McGlynn (©2008 by David McGlynn).



One of my best races could hardly be called a race

at all. I was a senior in high school, gunning to qualify

for the USA Junior Nationals. The previous summer I

had missed the cut by less than a second in the mile,
5 and just the day before, at my high school regional

meet, l had come within three-tenths of a second in the

500-yard freestyle. The qualification time was 4:39.69;

I swam a 4:39.95. The next day, Sunday, I drove with

my mother to the far side of Houston where a time trial
10 was being held-an informal, unadvertised event

thrown together at the last minute. The only races

swum were those the swimmers requested to swim.

Most were short, flapping sprints in which swimmers

attempted to shave off a few one-hundredths of a
15 second. I didn't have the courage to face the mile, and

since I'd struck out in the 500 the day before, I decided

to swim the 1,000-yard freestyle. Forty lengths of the

pool. It was a race I'd swum fast enough to believe that

given the right confluence of circumstances-cold
20 water, an aggressive beat, an energetic meet-I could

make the cut. I had fifteen seconds to drop to qualify.

By the time I stood up on the blocks, I was not

only the only one in the race, I was practically the only

one in the natatorium. The horn sounded and I dove in.
25 I was angry and disheartened at having missed the cut

the day before and I had little belief that I could go any

faster today.

About six hundred yards in, my coach started to

pace. I stayed steady on, not in a hurry, not about to get
30 my hopes up. In my mind, I had alieady missed the

time. Then a boy from a rival high school, whom I

hardly knew, unfolded his legs and climbed down from

the bleachers and started to cheer. He squatted low to

the water and pointed his finger toward the end of the
35 pool, as if to say, That's where you're going, now hurry

up. I thought, If he's cheering, maybe I'm close.

Sometimes a moment comes along when the world

slows down, and though everything else moves around

us at the same frenetic speed, we're afforded the oppor-
40 tuoity to reflect in real-time rather than in retrospect. It

is as though we slip into a worm-hole in the fabric of

time and space, travel into the past and then back again

to the present in the same instant. That morning, swim-

ming, I remembered a day in late September the year
45 before, the last day my swim team had use of an out-

door pool. All summer long my teammates and I swam

under an open sky. After this day we would spend the

rest of the season in a dank and moldy indoor pool.

The triangular backstroke flags were strung across
50 the lanes and the adjacent diving well. My teammates

liked to run down the long cement deck, jump out over

the diving well, and try to grab hold of the line. Many

of them could jump far enough to make it. I could not,

though I tried every day. I tried that day, and missed.
55 Since I would not have another shot until May, I

decided to try again. I squared up and ran, my feet wet

against the pavement, and just as my foot hit the water's

edge, one of my teammates called out "Jump!" I bent

my knees and pushed off hard and got my hand around
60 the flag line. I pulled the whole thing into the water.

Autumn was coming and I wondered if there was a

metaphor in what I had just done; a fortune folded

inside a cookie: my greatest effort would come when I

was down to my last opportunity.

65 Now it was March and I was down to my last

opportunity, thinking about that day and hearing the

word "Jump!" as my eyes followed the finger of the boy

pointing me onward. What I understood-not later, but

right then, in the water-was how little this swim added
70 up to in the world. I had spent more than a year training

for this one swim, and when it was finished the world

would be no different than before it began. If no one

else cared, then the swim was mine alone. It mattered

because it was the task before me now, the thing I
75 wanted now. Swimming, I had long understood, is a

constant choice between the now and the later: exhaustion

now for the sake of fitness later, all those Friday

nights spent in the pool in pursuit of an end that seemed

always one step farther on. I was out of laters, this was
80 the end, and I made my choice. I cashed in the energy

set aside for climbing out of the pool and unfolding my

towel and tying my shoes. I've never sprinted harder in

my life, not before and not since. I hit the wall. I knew

by instinct, by the spasm of my tendons and the ache in
85 my bones, before I ever turned toward the clock or

heard my coach scream, that I had made it.

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Question 1 The narrator of the passage can best be described as a swimmer who primarily