Sport: Poet of the Depths

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From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free. Buoyed by —water, he can fly in any direction—up, down, sideways—by merely flipping his hand. Under water, man becomes an archangel.

—Cousteau

The water may be the turquoise Mediterranean, an ice-skimmed quarry in Vermont, the translucent waters off Bermuda, the Pacific rolling in majestic rhythm toward the shores of San Diego. Around the world and across the nation, swimmers are sinking beneath the...

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