This morning I felt like I had a smile painted on my face.
Over the past few weeks, when it comes to racing there has been little that has gone right. Since that second race in my second week, I’ve had a lot go wrong. My goggles came off and I swam a horrible time. Yesterday I flipped way too close to the wall and I resorted to spinning and I just know how bad my time must have been.
And so as I slammed my hand into the wall this morning after my 50 race, I eagerly looked up at Jeff to see his face and reaction. He had a smile on his face, but he said nothing. In my head, I knew I had done well.
My start was clean, if not perfect. I had pushed through the water and taken breaths when I knew I should take them. I got into and out of my flip turn clean, and felt good coming back. Then in the final 20 meters or so, I kept reminding myself to keep the strokes long and push all the way through. Don’t just flail your arms fast and think that’s helpful.
I pushed hard into the wall and just knew. I had done it.
Forget about the time, forget about how much faster or slower it may have been than any other swim I’ve done in my whole time with Jeff. This was about just doing stuff right. Not making stupid mistakes. That was the goal going in, and I felt it was accomplished.
Sure, I could kick more out of my start and get more power. Ditto coming off the wall. That’s the next step.
But man, it felt good to know I had swum clean and, from how it felt, fast. At least for me.
Doing it right, though, that is where I get the most satisfaction.
I’m going to tease you the same way Jeff teased me. You only get to know my 25 split. Up until now, the fastest I had gone out was 15.8. Today, I went out in 14.6 to my feet. That means to the point where I had flipped and my feet hit the wall.
For most of you, not that great. For me, it’s huge.
So, you all can take your guesses as to what my time was. Jeff and I have decided it’s best right now to keep the number undisclosed as I try to keep my own expectations squared away and fight any mounting pressure. We’ve got plenty of time to analyze my times down the road — most specifically in October and November at the meets.
I can tell you this: I’m still smiling just thinking about it.
Considering I have the day off tomorrow, it was the perfect way to end this week’s workouts. On a high note.
And practice went well, too. I started the day off just trying to get warmed up for the race. A 10-minute shower. Twelve 50-yard swims to get the muscles going. The first four, nice and long with fins. The next four, nice and long with fins and paddles. The final four, good form with no toys. Get the blood moving.
Then I worked on some flip turn exercises and some breath control stuff. And I experimented with a funny way to show how hard you should be pushing down with your arms.
Then I went to the lower pool and swam the 50.
Afterward, I didn’t get my time right away, only the first 25 split. I hopped into the pool for 15 minutes of straight swim with fins and paddles. Time to think about the race again, Jeff said.
Why with fins and paddles? It lets me do more. I’m definitely getting the work on my legs kicking with more surface area, and I’m feeling the water more with my paddles.
I swam 200 free at first, then I did a 100 back — which I liked especially because I felt that it really gave me a good leg workout. Then I turned back over and did 50 free, then 50 back, and closed out with another 150 before Jeff stopped me. So a 550 in about 10-12 minutes, because I don’t think it was a full 15. Maybe I’m wrong.
Either way, I left the pool today with a sense of accomplishment — which I’ve been lacking in recent weeks. At the same time, I’m battling that competitive urge inside me to improve even more upon that time. After all, I think about the fact that Pat Sullivan probably goes out in 10-11 seconds in a 50-meter free.
There are little things I know I can do to drop more time. But, under the advice of my coach I should try focus instead on what I did today and enjoy it.
And you know what, Jeff? I am.
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.