Kicking. There probably aren’t many swim teams left on the planet that don’t begin their season with copious amounts of kicking. And there probably isn’t a faster way to clear space in the lanes than to heave a couple hundred thousand yards of kicking at a team.
Mr. Coach’s team is currently in the full throes of Kick-mania (or "Thinning the Herd," as I sometimes calls it). You’ve got your sprint kick sets and your longer, anaerobic-threshold kick sets. Your kicking drill sets, your vertical kicking, your going-right-into, your intervals, descendings and your "I could be watching Oprah and eating chips and salsa right now but, no, I thought it would look good on my resume to swim all four years" kick sets. And then finally, you’ve got your "would you like cremation or a coffin with that coronary" kick sets. If a newbie makes it to this point, then you know they are in serious need of a social life.
I myself am still making peace with the whole kicking thing because I’m still emotionally scarred by how little (some would say "not at all") a lifetime of running had prepared me for swim kicking. Totally different muscles. Plus I have only recently mastered the "one-arm stroke, turn and push off the wall" maneuver, but I can only do it on one side.
I have, however, been toying with an ingenious turn maneuver: A few yards out from the wall, you dive under the kickboard, flip-turn off the wall, and then come up and resume kicking (with the kickboard) in the opposite direction. Ideally you would want to be using an ellipse-shaped kickboard (not that I have one, but if Mr. Coach ever let me use the power tools, I would. Seriously, it’s like you chew up 30 feet of crown molding with a compound miter saw ONCE and suddenly power tools are off limits.). Anyway, it’s an idea, although Mr. Coach says that such an ingenious turn maneuver would be cheating. On whom, I would like to know.
But it is fascinating to watch Mr. Coach’s team reconcile their fates to Kick-mania. The messages scrawled on the pool’s dry-erase boards are cute. Recently someone wrote: "We don’t like kicking." To which someone else responded, "But we do like long walks on the beach and romantic dinners over candlelight." It’s so cute when they start hallucinating.
As for the complaints, well, maybe the student-athletes just need to think of this as the problem-solving portion of the season. For those who don’t like falling asleep in class or while sitting on the toilet, think of Kick-mania as a natural remedy for insomnia. For those experiencing foot and leg cramps, try welcoming the cramps as bonus exercise for those ligaments and muscles. And for those who complain about the girth that kicking adds to their, ahem, hip-flexor region, well, that’s what God made cargo pants and baby-doll tops for.
And just remember – if you can survive this, you can probably survive the winter training trip.