I deleted my last post because it was all Zen-preachy and it annoyed me.
I’m going to go about this a different way. First of all, if I’ve never mentioned it here before, this is my swimteam.
I joined it a little less than two years ago. Unlike other swim masters teams, where the coach writes the workouts on a whiteboard and then leaves, all of our workouts are coached, on the deck, in “real time.”
Two days before the annual Valentine’s Day swim meet at the Koret Center, one of our coaches, Don Swartz, educated us on the importance of swimming super fast times.
“It’s not like you’re curing cancer,” he said, to a bunch of giggles. That’s not how coaches normally talk.
I’ve never had a coach so determined to get us to not care about our times. But Coach Don and his partner Ken DeMont are so adament about it, they even wrote a two-parter blog post about it. Here’s part one.
It’s not about the time, but putting the effort and focus into the different components of a race. If you get them all right, you might even manage a fast time, but the fast time is only a result of all those other parts.
That’s a nice twist for some of us who grew up swimming, and remember when we were “fast.” Who wants to go to a swim meet only to see how much worse you’ve become?
But focusing on starts and turns, or negative splitting? Holding your breath into the turns? All of these are building blocks of a “good swim.” These become tangeable goals, a new definition of success, separate from the time, which is pretty meaningless.
I wasn’t sure if I could go into this meet with that mindset. I tried last year, and though I enjoyed the team experience of it, I felt disappointed. I was seconds slower than what I predicted, and I thought my expectations were reasonable.
The only thing I knew about this swimmeet going in was that I was likely going to be just as slow as I was last year, but that it just doesn’t matter. It’d probably be better to have no expectations at all.
It hit me on the bleachers. Someone asked me how my 50 fly went, and I had to stop and think about it because I’d already moved on from it. I didn’t care.
A couple more swims went by, one a little slower, a couple a little bit faster, inluding one race that was .9 faster than last year.
“So how went the meet,” Coach Don asked me this morning at swim practice.
I told him how much I didn’t care about my times.
He high-fived me.
I think I’ve arrived.