“In my 30 years of coaching this is a set I’ve never, ever done,” Coach Jeff King said early this morning, walking calmly along the deck and smiling.
“This set is dedicated,” he said, adding a dramatic pause, “to Paul Tenorio. So if you don’t like what you’re about to do, please feel free to find Mr. Tenorio after practice or in the locker room…”
“And beat him up,” someone chimed in.”
Well, I guess it’s nice to have something dedicated to you. Unless, of course, it’s 30 straight minutes of all-out, sprint kick broken into eight 25s with dry-land squats in between.
This all started with the decision I had to make this morning about whether or not my triceps felt good enough and strong enough to swim, or if I thought I should just do a kick set.
“And kick harder than anyone else swims,” Jeff said to me on Wednesday.
I tried everything I could to feel good yesterday, icing my arm several times and even getting a nice 10-minute massage to try to loosen it up. When I woke up this morning, however, I could tell it was going to be a no-go.
I got to practice still trying to convince myself to swim, debating over whether I should hop in the pool and swim a 25 before Jeff showed up to see how it felt. Instead, I felt it out during the jump rope and realized that there was no way I was swimming through a whole practice.
Jeff looked at me toward the end of the jump rope (as I struggled both with my triceps but even more with the stupidly long new jump rope I bought) and asked: “No go? We kicking today?”
I nodded. He smiled.
“I’m so glad we’re on the same page.”
So when Jeff started his speech on deck as we all stood just on the edge of the pool and I heard the word “dedicated,” I smiled. I knew what was next.
And after he finished describing the set I heard the, ‘thanks Paul,’ mumbles from around me. Didn’t bother me. I was glad to have company on my kicking fun.
Going through the kick set was definitely crazy challenging. Luckily I had my kick buddy, Jill King, next to me so that I wasn’t alone in my slow kicking. I beat her most of the time.
(Yes, I just publicly talked trash about beating a high school girl by half a second in some of the 25s. I deserve a standing ovation.)
As you go through a set like we did today when there’s really no relief from the burn, you often ask yourself if it’s ever going to end. And then, of course, it eventually does. When it finally did and I moved on to 16 25s of breath control I pondered the burn I had just felt, I thought about how easy it would be to push yourself if you can just think ahead to this moment. Then I laughed. Way easier said than done.
Tomorrow is a new day and I’m set on getting into the pool and swimming, messed up triceps or not. I’m a week away from the November Open, and while I hope to go best time I also just want to keep putting in the work.
Jeff gave me another decision to make at the end of this morning’s practice and I’ve made it. I’ll let him know in the morning. For now I’m just waiting for the major soreness to kick in — no pun intended.
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.