Six months ago Jim Colbert, 61, began training with Gregg
Alexander (above, in camouflage), a former Marine who now works
as a water fitness instructor. Alexander says he adopted the
drill sergeant shtick as "a motivational tool" for his clients,
and it certainly seems to be working for Colbert.

SI: So where did you find Sarge?

JC: I asked the people at the club [Bighorn, in Palm Desert,
Calif.] to find me a water-workout expert, and they came up with
this guy. The first day he comes in--I wanted to interview him
first--and right away starts barking out orders, and we went from
there.

SI: Why not opt for a perky, young female instructor?

JC: That's not what I was interested in. At my age, you have to
buy discipline. I wanted somebody who was going to be harder on
me than some teenager.

SI: You realize it's usually pregnant women who do this sort of
thing?

JC: I didn't really know about that. I knew thoroughbred trainers
swim horses all the time. I've watched them do that, to help the
horses with their injuries. I guess that's where the idea came
from.

SI: What's bothering you?

JC: My knees and my back. I've had three operations on my right
knee, and I need to get it scoped again. I can't do weights or
even ride a bike because my joints can't take the pounding.

SI: Tell us about the program.

JC: Over the winter we got together five times a week, for an
hour each time. It's a lot of sports-based movements done in a
pool--everything from boxing to punting a football--and some stuff
that comes from military obstacle courses, like running tires.

SI: And he's barking at you the whole time?

JC: There's a lot of that. When he gets me doing those knee
lifts, like I'm running tires, he's yelling, "Hup! Hup! Hup!
Hup!"

SI: This inspires you?

JC: It sure does. I have things moving that I haven't had moving
in a long time.

SI: Does he ever get in the water with you?

JC: Yep. Sometimes he faces me, and we do the same routine.

SI: How cute--synchronized swimming. Maybe you can get some jazzy
music, a little mascara and try out for the 2004 Games.

JC: Oh, I don't think we'll ever be good enough for the Olympics.

COLOR PHOTO: TODD BIGELOW/AURORA