Cris Dobrosielski recognized the irony of the situation when he suffered a significant lower back injury on the first day of the United States Lifesaving Championships last weekend.
Dobrosielski, a Governor’s Academy alumnus, had spent much of the previous four years writing and promoting a book he’d authored, “Going the Distance,” which provides an outline for aging athletes on managing injuries.
“The injury provided an intimate experience with managing pain — more intimate than I cared to have,” Dobrosielski said. “But it sharpened my ability as a coach to help people to make the right decisions in their training. I had to be reflective of the choices I’d made in preparation for Nationals, and that involved some humility on my part.”
After determining he’d failed to allow himself the proper recovery time during his book tour over the previous months, Dobrosielski withdrew from several of his marquee events, of which he had won two previous national championships.
He returned to action on the last day of competition, earning his third career national title — this time in the 40- to 44-year-old age group — in the Run Swim Run event.
“Sunday morning, I woke up at 85 percent,” Dobrosielski said. “I knew it would be prudent to sit out and wait for next year. I went through a self-assessment, considering the worst-case scenario and the likelihood of that. It was a fantastic field. I knew I could get through the race. I went in, went after it holding nothing back, had the race of my life, and won my first national championship in that event.”
Dobrosielski, a Methuen native, spent his summers on Salisbury Beach from the age of 9 before becoming the beach’s first junior lifeguard. At 17, he earned the title of professional lifeguard. Meanwhile, at Governor’s Academy, Dobrosielski carved out a promising basketball career despite his 5-foot-4 height. He later played basketball for a year at Hartwich College in New York.