Along with the holidays comes a new season for swimmers across the globe – training camp season. Unlike our classmates or coworkers who head to tropical destinations to sit back, relax and enjoy the sun, swimmers head to beach weather for camps, which are nothing like a vacation. They are designed to be tough, both mentally and physically, but are crucial to a swimmer’s success during the season.
I had the pleasure of joining this swimmer migration down South, since I headed to Barbados with 32 others from my university team. While there I kept track of the various ups and downs of my experience, so here it is; a diary of the ins-and-outs of my training camp.
Day 1: (December 28th)
Throughout the frenzy of excitement, I was as graceful as ever on the plane ride. While attempting to put my swim bag up in the overhead compartment for the flight, my large, metal water bottle fell directly onto my forehead. I now have the pleasure of beginning my Barbados adventure with a huge cut and bruise in the middle of my head…
Day 2: (December 29th)
The first full day in Barbados started off with a bang- and that bang was the sound of my body collapsing onto my hotel room bed, because practice was a killer.
Day 3: (December 30th)
The short break that we had over the holidays made me forget the pain of having two practices in one day. Now that training camp is in full swing, though, I’m feeling the effects of doubles. Just my luck, too, since this evening’s practice was a long, endurance-based one that never seemed to end!
Day 4: (December 31st)
I never thought I would say this, but morning practice passed by relatively quickly today, and before I knew it the whole team (all 32 of us) was headed to the beach for a team meeting in the sand. We went over our goals, and our general reasons for loving the sport, and then spent the whole afternoon playing volleyball and running into the ocean when it got too warm. Who says swimmers can’t have fun?!
Day 5: (January 1st)
Nothing says Happy New Year like a three hour practice that is sure to reduce everyone into a heap of sore muscles! We had to dive and swim 50m all out, then had to run back to the starting blocks (I can practically feel all of the lifeguards cringe at the mention of running on deck…). To put it lightly, it was a nice reminder of why I chose a sport that tends not to involve copious amounts of running.
Day 6: (January 2nd)
I got to start today off with every swimmer’s two favourite things – a nice and easy recovery practice, followed by breakfast at a local restaurant with a few of my fellow team members. There is no better feeling during a training camp than a stomach full to the brim with delicious food (I literally ate twelve pancakes), and muscles that are relaxed from a light swim.
Day 7: (January 3rd)
This morning, while the sprinters got to do some dry-land, the mid-distance and distance groups had to do a set with a ridiculous amount of 300m’s, and way too much butterfly for my shoulders to handle. I am only slightly exaggerating when I say that my body went into survival mode because I was in danger of drowning.
Day 8: (January 4th)
Today was our excursion, and it was a great way for the team to bond. We went on a catamaran ride (since apparently even on our time off from swimming we still enjoy being in the water) for the whole afternoon, and made two different stops during our loop around. First we got to swim with turtles, which was adorably exciting, and next we visited a shipwreck surrounded by some beautiful coral reef.
Day 9: (January 5th)
The most exciting thing about training camps (aside from the gorgeous location and great company, of course) is seeing all of your hard work start to show. Today we had two tough workouts, but I felt strong and in control for both of them, and my pace times reflected that. I am definitely feeling encouraged after all the effort put in today.
Day 10: (January 6th)
Today we had morning practice off for the first time all trip, so you would think that I would want to take advantage of that and get a nice long sleep in, right? Wrong. Much to my dismay, my internal clock woke me up bright and early, so I decided to sit out by the water and relax until it was time to head to afternoon training. Definitely not a bad way to spend the day!
Day 11: (January 7th)
Since we leave tomorrow, any time in between morning and afternoon workouts were spent at the beach for me. These last few precious hours of sunlight and warm weather were dedicated to getting rid of my extremely visible bathing cap and goggle tan lines.
Day 12: (January 8th)
One final practice this morning, and then we’re headed back home to the snow and cold temperatures that wait to greet us upon our arrival. Leaving is extremely bittersweet. While I’m ready to see my family and sleep in my own bed, I am definitely going to miss being in such a beautiful place, and the simplicity of a schedule that revolves solely around training. Nonetheless, I leave Barbados feeling determined to continue working hard and seeing progress, and am excited for the meets ahead. After all, not long after training camp season comes swim meet season!