Wednesday, October 27, 2010

9000 yards and The Parable of the Foolish Swimmer

3000 yards free
3000 yards pull
1000 yards kick with fins
1000 - 5 x 200's odds IM drill, even free
900 - 6 x 150's (100 sprint (get under 1:15), 50 breast active recovery) on 2:30
100 - 50 sprint, 50 back easy

9000 yards

Here's something I put together in my mind during today's swim.  Totally fictional, purely a parable that is similar to an actual event, but not related to swimming.  Sorry.  It's kinda long:

The Parable of the Foolish Swimmer


Frank always enjoyed swimming ever since he was a kid.  He swam on his High School Team and made lots of friends.  He had progressed to the point of being one of the fastest swimmers on the team.  He was good friends with Jon and Rick also were very fast swimmers on the team, but typically we assigned to swim in different lanes.  Frank had earned a reputation for his hard work and for taking first place in nearly every event he competed in at meets.

Many years passed, Frank had varying levels of motivation to swim.  He didn't swim with groups anymore, and rarely pushed himself to the point of exhaustion like he did when he was on a team.  One day he thought it would be cool to swim the Catalina channel.  So the next month, he drove to California, hired a pilot and started the swim.  He knew it would be tough, but didn't realize there were currents, marine life, and salt water to deal with. During one of the first couple feedings, he exclaimed, "I've never seen a seal before in the water with me".  The pilot crew tried to hide their amusement when they realize Frank is in over his head.  Once Rick gets about halfway he is beyond the point of exhaustion and can go no longer.  The pilot crew pull him out of the water and he heads home defeated.

Frank resolves to learn from this and to do: open water swims, extend his training to higher levels, do more research on marathon swimming.  He begins his research and reads a book where an English Channel swimmer makes light of the obstacles to marathon swimming and almost mocks anyone who nonchalantly attempts it.  This book disgusts him to the point of giving up and he goes back to swimming at the pool focussed again on just sprints with his workout total never getting higher than 3500 yards.

A couple years later, Frank's girlfriend, Jenny, hears about a sweepstakes put on by Swimming World where the winner of the sweepstakes will win a free trip to Dover including payment for a pilot to swim the English Channel.  The drawing is in 1 week.  Jenny asks Frank if she can enter him in the drawing.  Without really thinking about his past experience with the Catalina Channel he agrees thinking that he wouldn't win the drawing anyway.  A week later he gets a call, he just won the drawing and will need to take a week off work the next month to swim the English Channel.

Frank was mortified.  He knew he wasn't prepared, but he'd won the drawing and didn't want to waste the opportunity.  Every morning for the next month he went swimming in the local pond.  Frank and Jenny went to visit a psychiatrist to help him stay positive, and be mentally strong during the swim.  When the time came, he flew with Jenny to Dover.  Two days before his Channel swim, the pilot sent two of his assistants to take Frank on a training in the harbor.  He was to swim 8 miles in 60 degree water.   He arrived at the Harbor and noticed the waves were huge!  The water was freezing.  He finished the swim, but had to grab the boat a couple times, and at the end had moderate hypothermia and had drank alot of seawater.

The two pilot assistants reported back to the head pilot of what happened.  The pilot had heard of Frank's abilities through his old High School teammates Jon and Rick who had recently successfully swam the English Channel.  They both spoke highly of him and respected his speed when they swam together in High School.  Because of that recommendation and the fact that he actually did finish the training swim, (even though it was executed pathetically), they decided to allow him to continue to make the attempt two days later.

Once Frank heard they approved his attempt and he was scheduled to swim, he was surprised and horrified.  He knew he was totally unprepared to be successful.  At this point he called the whole thing off.  He resolved to go home, hire a personal trainer who had experience with marathon swimming, take his training seriously, and come back and make the attempt once he was satisfied that he had taken the proper steps to not just "make the attempt", but to be able to swim it confidently and powerfully.

There is no denying that Frank was foolish, but what was his most foolish decision?

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