For the past four years we have been watching and anticipating the outcome of seven days of competition in Athens. For the swimmers who competed, the training and anticipation has consumed their life, perhaps for decades. This Athens Olympics left all swimming fans breathless. It seems that the sport has captivated more of a national audience than ever before. I spent the better part of every day during the games glued to the TV, or checking results online. So we had the build-up and the spectacular delivery. Now what?
If you are Michael Phelps, you go on tour with Ian Crocker and Lenny Krayzelburg. There is a good chance that they are coming to a city near you. You can check out their tour dates at the following website: Swim with the stars. They will continue to train and prepare for their upcoming meets.
For the mortals of the swimming world, the season mimics that of the immortals. The end of the summer marks the transition from the long-course season to short-course season. There is usually a two-week break, to give coaches a chance to catch their breath and prepare for the next season. So what should you do with your time off?
The thing is that there really isn’t one way to spend your time off. But, there is certainly a way not to spend it. If your plan is to sit on the couch for the next two weeks, logging some serious tube time, and conquering every X-box game at your local video store, you may want to reconsider. Your major competitors most surely have.
Your off season is a great way to spend time doing things that you have always wanted to do. Pick up a basketball. Go for a run. Ride a bike. Bag a few peaks. Actually, I have watched a lot of swimmers attempt to play basketball, so maybe you should start with the bike or the run. The point is that you need to be a better athlete. Any understanding you have of how your body works can only help you in the water. Look at the motions of today’s elite swimmers; they are highly skilled and coordinated in ALL their athletic movements.
One thing you can do that will help maintain your swimming strength is a stretch-cord program. This part is going to sound like an info-mercials for one of those miracle exercise devices. But really…seriously… in less than twenty minutes you can do a series of stretch-cord exercises that will maintain your swimming-specific strength. All you need is a stretch cord and a pole. I did some Internet surfing and found a great site where all the dryland equipment you could want is available. Exertools has a really good selection — pretty cheap.
So now that you have some time off, take advantage of it. Grab a cord and hook it up while you watch the millionth rerun of your favorite "Cheers" episode on TV. It might also help with your advanced X-Box maneuvers.