At Monday night's practice, Mullersman starts playing on my team as a back, whose job is to protect the goal. Even though I'm supposed to be playing forward, I spend much of my time surfacing on the water gasping for air and sounding like Darth Vader. Mullersman, however, who has a son about my age, follows the puck wherever it may go, surfacing just long enough for a full breath of air before ducking back into the action.
Raponi stayed back with Mullersman, a player with whom she has a good connection. They can alternate in coming up for air and passing the puck accordingly, which they discuss in between scores.
Kisz plunges forward with force at the start of every scoring drive. Sometimes he tries to get the puck to me for a few moments so I know what it's like to play the position. Only once during the two-hour practice do I manage to be in the right spot to receive the puck without needing to go up for air.
As we return to the sideline, I joke about having wasted time going to the gym earlier that day.
"Yeah, who needs the gym?" Kisz says. He later mentioned that in his busy schedule, the three-times weekly practices serve as his stress relief.
After nearly two hours of swimming and scoring, practice is over and everyone climbs out of the heated pool into the cold night air at 11:15 p.m.
I can breathe again.