During a recent pool session with Johnny, he realized that I had not been practicing my basic skills. As usual, at the beginning of the lesson he tells me to warm up by going through my drills. I looked at him like a deer in headlights.


I had been exposed. I couldn’t remember what to do. So, rather than try to bullshit him, I told him that I didn’t remember what to do. I had not done them in a while. Instead, I had been going to the pool and swimming laps for an hour. That’s it.

He, in his own way, reinforced the importance of my drills. I was brought down a few notches when he said you haven’t even begun to approach the number of hours required to develop adequate muscle memory.

Then he said…..wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off and I understood (see Karate Kid).

After what seemed like 20 minutes of that, we moved into the lesson.

For one drill, he had me developing proper elbow lift and downward pull. The second drill was all about body position and the timing of taking a breath. Both are, of course, related, but developed separately.

Finally, while focusing on executing the complete stroke with a full arm extension and holding proper head position, he stops me and tells me to look at the pool motor’s speed. It was at 2:05. He was smiling. I wanted to smile too, but instead, I told him that I really don’t know what that number means. He chuckled and said, that’s your speed for 100 yards. You are not swimming hard but I had to increase the motor to 2:05 / 100 yds so you wouldn’t run into the front of the pool.

Then I understood…I was moving at race pace, but not swimming hard. For perspective, in my age group,  2:05/100 yds is a top 10 pace. The hair on his arms was standing up…

I understood. 

I couldn’t deny my potential.