The girls wear their tangled wet hair twisted into buns. The buns are practical — the best way to stuff long tresses beneath a swim cap — but also their style, the same way their cherry-red team parkas are practical but also their style. They put their hair up and then take it down, sometimes with an abrupt, inexplicable purposefulness. Maybe it just gives them something to do. There is a lot of time to kill at a high school swim meet.
They sit on a long metal bench or on damp towels on the floor, their clothes and bags strewn around them. They eat snacks, massage each other's shoulders, and tend to their iPhones. They do not pay any special attention to Missy Franklin, who slouches at the end of the bench. She and a friend are talking, their heads tucked toward each other. Her bun is as high and as messy as the rest.