This morning it was Christmas come early at Mantua Pool, as Jeff was waiting to greet me at the door — probably because I was eight minutes late — bearing gifts.
None of the gifts inspired a reaction anything close to this, but Jeff gave me three things: an electrolyte-heavy thing to drink during practice, a box of vitamins and a Curl-Burke magnet for my car.
So, thanks Jeff. I took the vitamins, I drank the electrolytes…my car is currently Curl-Burkeless, though. Gotta double check and make sure that’s not against Post rules or something — although I guess I am a paying member of Curl-Burke. And it’s not like it’s a political sign or anything, which is against the rules for me to display.
Today was a shorter day, both in time and in distance. Instead of focusing on yardage, Jeff worked me with shorter swims, timing my first 50 and having me swim those on 1 minute 20 second splits. In other words, lets say I swam a 50 in 38 seconds at about 70-percent. I’d then have 42 seconds before my next 50 started, and again I’d be looking to come in at 38 seconds. I’d do that until I swam a 39.
The set was shortened and altered, however, as I worked to lengthen my stroke.
I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of being coachable, listening to what Jeff said and immediately improving upon it, but getting my stroke nice and long and pulling all the way through seems to be a real problem. I don’t know if I’m just not strong enough and my body keeps overcompensating or what.
Perhaps the best gift of the day, however, was that Jeff videotaped me swimming so that I could actually see what I was doing wrong. Now that I’ve had a chance to briefly look at it, I can see more of what I’m doing and how it’s wrong. I can also see that I need a tan. And to hit that 180-pound mark, but that’s beside the point.
What I saw was that I need to do a better job of really extending that arm back and pulling all the way back through and straight through. I have a tendency to let my arm float out to the side and when I’m breathing constantly to my left, I’m also putting a lot of the stress on just my right arm.
Two other things really stood out to me: One, I still need to get better at not lifting my head when I breathe. Two, my head is like half out of the water as I approach the wall for a turn.
I can feel Jeff nodding.
So anyway, I really like this video thing, I like being able to see what I’m doing. And yes, I’ll post a video up here, but I don’t think I’m going to do it today because I’ve got a million other things to do right now at Redskins Park and with high school stuff. I promise a clip at some point this week, though.
I’ll be doing more distance tomorrow, then back to shorter on Thursday. I don’t know if I’ll be timing myself this week because Jeff feels like we shouldn’t do it unless there is a reason to do it. I guess me being anxious to see improvement doesn’t count.
I want to try to lengthen my stroke during a race, see if I can really improve the back end of my 100. But we might have to wait a while to see the results. And I should probably get it right in practice first.
Jeff, I can still feel you nodding.
Washington Post reporter Paul Tenorio will train with a swim club over the next few months and chronicle his journey as he attempts to transform from regular guy/sports reporter to competitive swimmer — everything from his waistline to his best times.