by Antonio Argüelles of Mexico City
For several years now, people have asked Rafa Álvarez and me to coach them. I know I would be a terrible coach: I lack patience and have zero tolerance for weakness. As for Rafa, he is happy to work with only one athlete.
However, several months ago, as I was preparing to take on the distribution of Maurten products in Mexico, which implied having to focus once again on sports-related activities, I came up with the idea of developing an app.
One day after practice I shared my thoughts with Rafa. “Yes, an app is a great idea, but we also need a community,” he said. “How about accepting up to 20 swimmers with a semi-personalized program to complement the app?” We agreed and got to work.
The launch of every product needs an event, so we decided to launch www.sietemaresnadadores.mx with a training session designed according to our program. It had to be a tough and fun session, but also one in which participants realized how much our methods could contribute to their goals.
We set the date — December 10th 2022 — and chose the Club Alemán de México’s Olympic-size swimming pool in Mexico City as the venue. I summoned my friends in Mexico and invited some from abroad to join us from their local pools. My invitation reverberated with Kim Almeida in San Francisco and Xesc Teres in Barcelona.
I woke up at 3:15 am with a message from Rafa. “We are up and running. Siete Mares Nadadores is live,” it said. After a quick scroll and a burst of satisfaction, I went down for coffee and started stretching.
Arriving at an empty pool in the early hours of the morning, when it is still dark, gives me great pleasure and peace. Despite the apparent nothingness, I know that wonderful things can happen in there, and that day was no exception.
Swimmers began to arrive. They looked for their assigned lanes, met their partners for the day, and organized their equipment and feedings on the deck. We had been assigned four lanes, each one with swimmers of similar capacities to make rotation easier.
As not everyone was doing the 200×100 meters — some decided to complete the 100×100 meter-challenge instead — we had several changes during the seven-hour workout. In my lane, five of us started and finished the full session, but at one point we were nine swimmers.
Rafa prepared a workout of five series of 10×100 meters to be repeated four times (see below). In our lane, we decided I would lead the first 10×100 to start slow and get everyone in rhythm. Then, we would start a rotation of 2×100 per person, an unusual setup that, nevertheless, made the workout more pleasant and, most importantly, allowed those in trouble to recover more easily.
This was the case of my swim-lane partners Sandra Dominguez (the younger one of the two Sandras) and Melissa Monteón who were both coached by Paty Kohlmann. Sandra arrived with the idea of stopping at 100×100 meters, but as the workout progressed, we pushed her first to reach 150×100 meters and finally, 200×100 meters.
Melisa has in mind a 30-kilometer swim next year. She started to struggle halfway, so we moved her out of the rotation. This allowed her to recover and in the final part she was fast and full of energy.
My other two partners were Aurea Masvidal, Ximena’s godmother, who provided entertainment and bullied me at times, and the older Sandra Ramírez, a member of the local club’s team.
Like in a channel swim, I focused only on my immediate surroundings — in this case, my lane. But when we stopped for one minute after every 10×100 meters or for three minutes after every 100×100 meters, I glanced at the other lanes and noticed that everyone was happy, struggling at times, but happy.
Lane 7, next to ours, was different, though. It included Olympic swimmer Ricardo Vargas, recent IMSHOF-inductee Jaime Lomelín, and fellow German Club teammate. They were all business. Ricardo held a 1:08 average per 100m, swimming the 100×100 meters in 56 seconds and the 200×100 meters in 53 seconds, while Jaime did it in 1 minute 22 seconds and Javier in 1 minute 35 seconds.
Later, as Jaime, Javier, and I were chatting about the swim in the steam bath, Jaime told us he is getting ready for the 40 Bridges Swim in Manhattan next summer. I used the opportunity to invite Javier to attempt the 20 Bridges Swim. After his performance, I am sure he is more than ready to do it.
On my way out, I came across Jaime and Nora, who was there but could not swim, as she was recovering from the flu. It was an unexpected reunion of the three Mexican IMSHOF members. We took a picture, and I left in a hurry — my granddaughter Aurelia was spending the weekend at home. It was time to be a grandfather.
Workout (4 times each block)
- 10 x 100 at 65-75% @2´
- 10 x 100 at 75-80% @2´
- 10 x 100 50 meter at 85% 50 meter at 70% @2´
- 10 x 100 with paddles and pull buoy at 75-80% @2´
- 10 x 100 with fins 75 meter at 90% 25 meter at 65% @2´
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