Sitting here on my “spring break” from swimming, it’s amazing to reflect on how far I came on this blog and what it eventually evolved into from where I had first imagined it.
I remember clearly that first day in the pool, and I remember even more clearly lying on a bench in the locker room at Stratford Landing pool that afternoon after swimming a 50- and 100-meter freestyle for the first time.
My arms hung off the bench in extreme pain and I looked up at the ceiling just asking myself what the heck I had gotten myself into.
I’ve come a long way from that day, from jumping in a pool with no warm-up and swimming as fast as I can with no plan, no base or semblance of being in shape and no idea what was in store.
I’ve gone through two meets, I’ve experienced a shoulder injury and I’ve learned just about every frustration of a race. I’ve gone through practices that were nothing but distance, I’ve gone through work outs that were all about sprinting and I’ve done dry land and mini tapers.
I’ve experienced the satisfaction of going best time and the disappointment of falling short of expectation.
And to think, I pitched this as a 30-day experience.
Yet here I sit more than eight months later and I’m not done. I just fell in love with the sport and I fell in love with how it’s helped me regain some aspect of phsyical conditioning back into my life.
This blog certainly fell off from the daily journaling it had been when I first started. High school swim season and my job at the Washington Post took over here in this forum and in my life. That was to be expected.
But before I say goodbye I wanted to both reflect on my best experiences and my lessons, but also let you all know what the future holds for me.
First of all, I don’t think this would have been anywhere near the same experience if I hadn’t ended up with a coach like Jeff King. For those of you who know Jeff, you know what I mean. He is the perfect blend of teacher, advisor and — to me at least — friend.
He’s helped me through every step of the way, always willing to sacrifice his own time to meet me and to push me. He’s had the right words to say when I’m down and the right things to do when I’m up. He’s pushed me in practice time and time again and ignored me when I roll my eyes like a little baby.
He worked me into practices so I wouldn’t feel like a failure every day early on in the process, and he didn’t let me have any excuses when I had shown I could get through the sets he gave everyone else.
And before and after every practice he’s been awesome to talk to about anything — swimming, life…whatever.
I don’t think this experience would have been the same in another group.
As for the experience, I’m still learning every day. I know now what it feels like to wake up every morning at 3:40 a.m. It ain’t easy. Trust me.
There are days where I’m just dragging through work and through the day, and I try to imagine the difficulties that must come getting through a school day. I remember those, and I don’t know how these kids stay awake through some of those lessons.
I also learned about real dedication to a sport. To drag yourself out of bed and then jump into cold water and go up and down a pool with no one to talk to…that takes dedication. It felt good to have that in my life again.
As far as what I’ve learned in my job, it’s been a much different experience to watch high school swim meets now that I know what these kids have been through. They are all so talented, so fast. It was so tough, as it always is, to go through the All-Met process this year just because there are so many talented swimmers in this area and they are all so deserving of honors.
You certainly appreciate performances like Jack Conger’s a lot more when you understand just how fast that is — and for a freshman!
As for the future, I plan on continuing to swim and to compete. I’ll likely switch this summer to try out some Masters meets — though you might see me in a few Opens come fall.
Surely my experience will change over the next few months as people move on and new faces join the group. And I’ll face the challenge of swimming long course twice a week starting soon. But as I weighed whether to continue swimming or not I just feel like there’s too much to lose if I stop.
Maybe at some point I’ll have to arrange something with Jeff where I do a couple workouts on my own here and there if I need extra sleep, but really I’ve adjusted to the whole 3:40 a.m. thing so I think I’ll be okay.
As to whether I’ll post on here I think this will be the final entry. It’s been fun to look back on the experience when I need to, and to read some of my first entries. My mom put together a book of every single one of the Diving Back In blogs and that’ll be something I’ll have forever.
But I think I’ve said what I need to say in this forum, and communicated my experiences as best I can.
If I get inspired this summer by something, I wouldn’t 100 percent count it out. You never know. Plus maybe I’ll be able to compile a “Best Of” Jeff King quotes. Who knows.
To end it all I’ll post a couple final numbers from Day One to Day 254. You’ll notice I’ve gained a little weight back, about four pounds from my lowest point. Trust me, I’ve noticed, too. It’s a good thing to motivate me when I get back from break.
The 100 free time is from Nov. 9. The other day in practice I raced a 75 and was on pace for around a 59.0. I haven’t raced a 100 since November, though. I did race a 50 last week, but fell just shy of my best time — a terrible start. Disappointing, but that’s swimming — especially a 50.
50 free: 38.67(SCM)/34.65 (SCY)
100 free: 1:26.95 SCM/1:17.91 SCY
50 Free: 26.22 (SCY)
100 Free: 1:02.20 SCY
Tags: Jack Conger