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[Report]

Pushing the Limit

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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reported this story as a 2016–17 visiting journalist fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation. Her most recent article for Harper’s Magazine, “American Hustle,” which appeared in the April 2015 issue, was included in the 2016 edition of The Best American Sports Writing.

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