Clay Britt Jr. is a champion swimmer, a product of grueling predawn workouts and -- yes, he also admits -- pushy parents.
A sohphomore-to-be at the University of Texas who won the NCAA 100-yard backstroke championship in March, Britt, 19, of Rockville, also will confess that "I think about quitting all the time.
"My older sisters both lost interest because they got a lot of pressure."" Britt said. "I told them (his parents) to leave me alone."
It obviously didn't do much good. Last year Clay and Ann Britt traveled to four meets to watch their son compete. His mother has her calendar marked to prove it, too. But they deny pressuring their son.
"He was not pushed into swimming," Clay Britt Sr. said. "He was encouraged not to drop out, but never pushed.
"He never came to us, seriously. Most swimmers go through it; I didn't have anyone to push me into sports. I was a big zero."
In one respect it was a lucky break that put a fiberglass cast on Clay Britt Jr.'s ankle six years ago.
"The weight of the case made it impossible to swim breastroke," said Britt, who began swimming at the Montgomery Square Community pool when he was 6.
At 8, he was setting age-group records, some of which still stand, and recording a staggering list of victories. By the time he graduated from the Bullis School in Potomac last year, his accomplishments were impressive enough to win him a scholarship.
Britt had set 100-yard backstroke national prep records in his junior and senior years at Bullis. He was all-America in the 50-yard freestyle as well.
This year, Britt was the Southwest Conference champion in the 100-and 200-yard backstroke. In addition, he led off Texas' winning 400-yard med-lay relay team that broke the U.S. record.
There are goals that they achieve as you come up in the swimming world," said his father. "This is just the last of many." He then produced the latest issue of Swimmer's World magazine to show off his son's picture.
During the school year Britt works out three mornings a week, from 6 to 8 a.m. He has classes from 9 to noon and at 2 p.m. he lifts weights or does dry land exercises. Between 3 and 5 p.m. he swims again.
He maintains a C average in a curriculum which he began with the intention of concentrating on biology, but the plan is shaky at the moment.
"They throw you into college and you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life," Britt said.
In between school and swimming, Britt and his roommate take care of their animals. Among them have been a duck named Arby that was a bargain at $1.50 but "grew up too fast and he never learned to quack," and two pythons he brought back in a swim bag on the plane from a meet in California.
These days, as Britt drives back and forth to the Starlit Swim Club in Fairfax to practice for three hours, he thinks a lot about the future. He now is concentrating on yet another goal, the 1980 national long course finals July 29 in Irvine, Calif., where an honorary Olympic swimming team will be selected. "We had our reservations to Moscow and all," said his mother.
Britt says now it's as if the Games don't exist. "It (the Olympic boycott) took a lot of pressure and worry off a lot of people," he said. "I had as good a shot (at a medal) as anybody. In four more years it's hard to say what's going to happen."
This summer, Britt, as most college students his age, will got to parties with friends, eat pizza and drive around in his brown sports car.
The hours he spends with his friends -- most of them swimmers -- is perhaps the best time for Britt, who used to think about competing in other sports but quickly gave up the thought.
"Basketball and football, Mom and Dad said no," he said.
Three years ago Britt says, he finally knew that he could take swimming seriously. "If I quit I would just be letting myself down," he said.
"If you asked me when I finish what I got out of all of this," he added, "the most I've got is my friends."