Before I started this swim work with Curl-Burke, it had been a long time s since I had been in a pool. It had been even longer since I had done any butterfly.
The two strokes I swam most in meets were freestyle and fly. In fact the picture that opened this blog was of me swimming fly as a 13-year-old. But it’s been probably seven or eight years since I’ve done any fly.
So when I finished warm up this morning and Jeff told the group that today was going to be an IM day, I didn’t really fret. And when he told me to hop out of the pool I figured it was cause I had my own freestyle set to do.
Jeff broke down the lanes, far left were 400 IMs, middle were 300 IMs and the others were 200 IMs. Pick your lanes, he said. And pretty much everyone got out and headed to the 200 IM lanes.
Jeff called them all wimps and told them they’d be doing 20 200 IMs. Pat Sullivan’s face was pure comedy, and it took everything I had not to laugh. Here I was thinking I’d get a nice freestyle set and these poor kids had to do 20 200 IMs. It was all fun and games.
Then Jeff called me over.
“You’re going to do some butterfly today,” he said.
I just looked at him. He smiled.
Sean Heffernan was back in town from college and would take me over to the shallow end of the pool and work with me on my fly, Jeff said, but the plan was for me to do 10 100 IMs.
Again, I just looked at Jeff and chuckled. In my mind, I figured my fly was going to be horrid. Eight years is a long time for your shoulders not to go through something like a butterfly stroke. I was worried about what my fly would look like.
“What you see in the shallow end today does not leave the shallow end,” I told Heffernan.
With the fins on, though, it actually wasn’t that bad. I started off doing fly drills — right arm only three strokes, left arm only three strokes, full stroke to wall — and things didn’t feel horrible. Then I progressed to stroking every three kicks, then every two kicks and then straight fly.
To be honest I was surprised with how good I felt doing it. Of course, I know the fins made it that way for me by pushing me forward and adding more power to my kick. But considering it had been eight years since I had done it, I was pretty happy with how the 10 100s went. Even Heffernan said he didn’t have much to complain about watching me swim.
After watching the film I come out of the water pretty vertical, and I’d probably try to fix that. I think later in the day I leaned more forward and wasn’t so vertical and I think without the fins that would probably happen naturally. But otherwise I don’t think it was too bad.
After the 10 100s IM Jeff came over and said he was giving me a set that was designed for me to get tired and burn out.
Six 25s freestyle all out (15 secs rest)
Six 25s fly (w/ fins, 20 secs rest)
Six 25s freestyle all out (15 secs)
Four 25s fly (w/ fins)
Six 25s freestyle all out (15 secs)
Two 25s fly (w/ fins)
Six 25s freestyle all out (15 secs, w/ fins)
It was exhausting, but it was the perfect set to end the week. As tired as my arms and shoulders were, as fast as my heart was beating, as hard as I was breathing I just kept looking at the clock and telling myself, “you only have X 25s left until the weekend,” and that was enough to get the most effort out of me.
What better way to end a week of workouts than to completely gas yourself? Really, what better way than to end with another new experience: after a test set, the 1650s, the six 500s and then some butterfly?
And I can still chuckle to myself and say, hey, at least I didn’t have to do 20 200 IMs.
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.