It’s been a while since I left a practice with a decent amount of soreness. Today, six hours after practice ended I’m not exactly sore the way I was when this project started, but I’m definitely feeling the effects of the increased workout.
I did the 3,000 meters today in practice in a pretty straightforward fashion. Practice started with 10 200s, then finished with 20 50s — broken down into 10 kick, 10 swim. The final five 50s were done easy, hard, easy, hard, easy.
Trust me, it sounds easier than it was.
The most important thing I pulled out of practice was beyond the yardage, though. It was about taking this project to the next level in another sense.
This whole time has been about increasing the workload, getting used to being in the water every day and getting through workouts. The physical side of things has gone well, I’m dropping weight and body fat and I’ve lost two inches off my waistline.
But now that I’ve got the basics down— including a flip turn that is much more natural — it’s time to start working on the specifics of my stroke.
That means I really have to focus on extending my stroke, anchoring my hand and pulling the water all the way through. That means I have to be better at breathing. That means making this a long-axis stroke instead of getting tired and just getting the work done by any means necessary.
I think that I’ve become more and more frustrated at times when I take the fins off and try to translate my stroke from with fins to without them. It’s a much different feeling because the fins push you forward through the water, and without them, often times, it can feel like you’re going nowhere.
A result, I think, has been that while I start off laps well: by focusing on long strokes and trying to remember to pull all the way back while keeping my legs kicking and bi-lateral breathing (a lot is on my mind). But by the time I start getting tired, I get frustrated with how slowly I am moving. When that happens, I start shortening the stroke and moving my arms faster to try to go forward more quickly.
In reality, what I’m doing is making my stroke inefficient, and probably not that much faster at all. So as I move forward this week, I’m going to take that lesson and try to translate it in the pool. When I take my fins off and my paddles off, my focus is still going to be on pulling all the way through — no matter how much it taxes my muscles. I’m going to rotate from the hips, no matter how silly I probably look out of the water. My arms are going to reach out as far as they can — even if it looks more like “catch up” than swimming.
Because the bottom line is I’m in this to do it right. I don’t want to have an ugly stroke, I want to be efficient. I want to show that I can learn how to do things properly.
I’m sure the yardage will stay up near 3,000. And I’m sure at times when I’m tired things will get a little sloppy. Trust me, I’ll still be working. I just want to start showing improvement in technique as well as endurance.
I also wanted to answer a question from Durham, who asked about Pat Sullivan’s school status. From what I understand, Pat will stay in the area and attend classes/train here for the first quarter/semester as he continues to find the right college program. I know there are some schools interested in bringing him in, and I have no doubt some more will come calling. I think the plan is just to not rush this decision, and allow time to make sure he goes to the right place.
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.