Once summer vacation began, the early days of August started in the blink of an eye.
「Yo, Noda! Get over here! We’re playing UNO: Revenge round!」
「Revenge… Aren’t we all the losers here?」
On the train to Izu, the members pointlessly made merry in their reserved seats.
We had decided to have our summer training camp in Izu. Everyone was supposed to go by train, but our advisor (in name only) let us have a car. Having a car was convenient since we’d have shopping to do when we got there.
It was a regular automobile, so only four people could get in.
We had a round of UNO to decide who’d get to go in the car.
After Kinoshita rose to the top, the match turned furious. In the members’ minds, the reward changed from getting to ride comfortably in a car to having a car date with Kinoshita.
I’d never played such a bloodcurdling game of UNO before. I couldn’t concentrate thanks to all the pressure, so I ended up last. The cards got crushed up and wrinkly, and we couldn’t use them for another round.
In other words, all the members here were the losers.
「Sagiri, please give me your luggage.」 Michel took my luggage and put it in the overhead luggage area.
「Noda, you barely have any luggage like usual! Did you remember to bring your floaties?」
Half of my luggage was floaties. Michel tilted his head, looking curious.
「Sagiri, do you need floaties to swim?」
「Oh right, this is Michel’s first summer training camp! It’s amazing how awful Noda is at swimming – completely hopeless.」
「I’ll definitely be able to swim this year.」
「Even though Sagiri’s so good at sports?」
Though I didn’t want to boast, sports were my forte. The only one I was bad at was swimming.
I couldn’t float, couldn’t hold my breath, I’d barely move forward even if I tried doing flutter kicks, and to top it all off I couldn’t even open my eyes.
「Even though Noda sucks at swimming, she came dressed in the kind of suits they wear at swimming races. We were wondering what kind of amazing swimming she’s gonna do, and then she spent the entire time practicing in the shallow part.」
Chii-chan was shocked at my racing swimsuit, so we went shopping for a new one. I kinda liked one that had a hoodie and looked like a matchstick, but she vehemently refused.
In the end, I just bought one she recommended.
「I tried teaching Noda how to swim last year, but I’ve never seen anyone so hopeless. I thought I’d teach her how to float first, but even though she practiced, it was like there’s anchors attached to her feet. She just keeps sinking.」
Everyone said to just relax and breath in, but before I realized it I was sinking.
「It’s no good even if she uses a kickboard. She’ll splash so much, making it look like there’s huge fishes around or something, but she still barely moves forward. What even…?」
「I know, right? Judging by her walking abilities, you’d think she could move like a jet even in water. No idea how she doesn’t.」
「We thought she was just messing around, but she’d never looked so desperate before. I tried helping her practice flutter kicks, holding her hand like she’s a suspended fish, right when I let go she just sank.」
After that, the members decided to use 「Run to the sea!」 as a sign phrase for whenever I was angry at them. It was futile, since there’s no beach near our university.
「Is that so? Well then, I’ll teach you how to swim this year. Swimming is my specialty,」 Michel said to me, sweetly smiling. But the thought of using up his free time on his first summer training camp made me feel bad.
「Oh, yeah! Michel can teach Noda!」
「Yeah, yeah! That’s great, it’s settled!」
「And so, you can leave Kinoshita to me.」
「No, me! I’ll take care of her! I, the Armadillo of the Sea, will teach Kinoshita how to swim and have a date in the sea with her!」
What even is a sea armadillo?
「But since Kinoshita is a mermaid, she doesn’t have to be taught how to swim!」
「Then a beach date!」
「A beach date!? You mean playing around on the shore, going, ‘Catch me!’ ‘Hey, wait!’ ‘Ahaha,’ ‘Teehee!’」
「I’ve never done that with anyone else before, I wanna!」
「You’ve done it by yourself? You’ll be detained by some official organization someday. Even if someone who knew you saw you doing that, they’d be terrified.」
The noisy members kept disturbing the other passengers, and had to be shushed. I sat by the window and Michel sat beside me; I gave him our training camp guidebook.
「I haven’t gone to any training camp until now, so I don’t know what it’s like. Could you tell me?」
「Aah, right. Sure.」
We used the same guidebook every year, just changing the date and number of days. There were no details in it either, so it must have been difficult for Michel to understand.
「On the first day – today, there’s nothing to do but move. When we get there, we’ll put away our luggage and have a meeting. It’s called a ‘meeting’ but it’s really just listing important points about the boarding house we’ll stay at. The bath timings, smoking area, basic stuff like that. On the second day, we’ll practice in the morning and have combined practice after lunch.
I lowered my voice.
「We have combined practice with M Uni, but we’re on pretty bad terms with them. It just started with a small quarrel, but their captain and Arioka had been rivals for years so it grew worse.」
Maybe the two of them influenced the rest of us, or maybe we just weren’t compatible. Whenever they were around we’d argue with them, whenever they left we’d insult them. We were like cats and dogs. This started before I was in the club, so I had a bit of a reputation too.
Our adviser arranged practice matches with them.
It seemed they had also chosen Izu for their summer camp, so the adviser had aligned our schedules for practice matches. Unlike the students, the advisers were on good terms.
「On the third day, we’ll practice in the morning. Then we have voluntary practice in the afternoon. Though it’s called voluntary practice, it’s more like free time, so we’ll go to the beach. After dinner, we’ll be in high spirits with a drinking party.」
Except the drinking here was quieter, since everyone was tired from playing on the beach and people kept dropping out.
「On the fourth day, we’ll practice all day. Then we’ll finish dinner early and set off fireworks and have dares in the night. Arioka might come around that time, won’t he? Since he has a job…」
Being a working adult must be so difficult, I thought. That would be me next year.
「On the fifth day, we’ll have practice matches with M Uni in the morning and afternoon. We’ll have a get-together in the evening, but there’s a big possibility we’ll stop because of arguments in the morning. Even if we do, it’ll probably just get interrupted with fights.」 It was an event I thought we’d be better off without.
「On the sixth day, we’ll have a meeting after breakfast then leave. That’s basically it,」 I summed it all up. There were also some fun clubs nearby, so I think amusement was the members’ main goal.
When we reached the boarding house, the members who’d gone by car were already there. The members’ tiredness immediately wore off after seeing Kinoshita dressed like A Summer Lady, tension rising to the max.[1. TL Note: A Summer Lady is a song by Japanese singer Ikue Sakakibara about a beautiful lady in summer clothes.]
Just like usual, our 6-day and 5-night long summer training camp began.