One hundred and thirteen days ago I walked into Lee District pool. I weighed 193 pounds, I was badly out of shape (17.7 percent body fat) and I had not touched a pool in a workout-type manner in a good six years.
I tried to swim a 50 freestyle and a 100 freestyle on my own later in the day and was desperately slow and in agonizing pain. My times: 38.67 and 1:26.95, in meters, or about 34.65 and 1:17.91 in yards.
This weekend marked one of the major benchmarks in this journey. The November Open seemed to be the perfect time to measure how far I’d come. It was my second race weekend, a chance to really improve on time and show what I was about.
I think I was able to do that.
This weekend I went best time in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. On Saturday, I went 26.22 in the 50 and yesterday went 1:02.2 in the 100. Are they times that I immediately looked at and thought, “Darn, I can do better,”? Yes. Absolutely. In the 50, I can still improve and I know I can hit 25 and my ultimate goal is to get to 24-high. I think that’s the respectable range, and man do I want to get there.
In the 100, I encountered some difficulties and I think I’m still learning the right way to pace myself. I look at my 50 time and double it and add a few seconds and I’m far short of where I should be. I took a big step this weekend, but I know that what I learned yesterday is going to help me break the 1 minute mark soon.
Still, I went best times, dropping from 26.77 to 26.22 in the 50 and from 1:03.50 to 1:02.20 (might’ve been 1:02.24) in the 100.
In the 50, I felt ready to go and I think I swam a decently strong race. My start was okay but I probably can improve it. My turn wasn’t a mistake, but I still want more power coming out of it. And in my finish Jeff said I was letting some water slip off the hand, but not nearly as much as three weeks ago. So you look at all of that and say that in three weeks, with all that to improve on, I still went best time by half a second. Not too shabby.
(By the way, Jeff’s watch had me at 25.8. And since I always listen to Jeff and he’s always right, I technically went 25.8…what? What’s that Jeff? A coach’s watch? The two timers both had exactly 26.22? I can’t hear you, this cap’s over my ears…sorry, 25.8 it is…WOO HOO!)
In the 100 I was focused especially on pulling through strong in my finish, and setting up the finish with the early breathing on the first 50. I felt good, definitely nervous, but good nonetheless at the start, but as soon as I jumped in the left side of my goggles came off.
The good thing: Jeff has prepared me for this to happen for a long time. Remember when the goggles slipped off before? With only one good eye and the other lense flapping around and filling with water, I had no depth perception as I swam, but I don’t think I let it effect my stroke.
As soon as it happened, I fell back on that first experience and reminded myself to stay calm and just swim. I breathed every stroke and kept a good rhythm. The hardest part was at the walls, where I couldn’t really tell how close I was to the wall because of the lack of depth perception. Thankfully, though, I was able to time my flip turns pretty well.
By focusing on my breathing in the first two laps, I felt way better in my final 50 than I did in October, and my splits were definitely better on the back end.
Here’s how they compare:
1st 25: 13.3/13.6
2nd 25: 14.8/15.8
3rd 25: 16.3/16.1
4th 25: 19.2/16.4
So here’s what I can take away from that swim. First of all, my second 25 was my weakest. I went out slower in the first 25, which is actually what I wanted to do, but I needed to keep my second 25 at the 14.8 mark I swam in October. The splits on my final 50 were way better, with just .3 seconds difference in the third and fourth 25s — as compared to that horrible 19.2 I swam in October.
So here’s what that means for me: If I can knock that 15.8 back down to a 14.8 and get those 16s down to 15s, I’m under a minute where I should be. My goal in the next few weeks is to basically go somewhere around here:
1st 25: 13.0
2nd 25: 14.5
3rd 25: 15.5
4th 25: 15.8
That would put me at a 58.8. I’d be happy with that. I would definitely be happy with that.
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.