Holiday break? For some swimmers, it’s more like holiday get-broken-down. At many clubs across the country, the holiday break from matriculation (that’s school) means underwater asphyxiation (that’s a really really tough workout). Some of the most challenging sets I’ve ever done were in the days around the New Year. I came out of those practices too fatigued for sleep on the commute home. My body was so traumatized that I would sit comatose through my family’s holiday meal, too tired (almost) to eat, wondering why I never received the colorfully wrapped package with the new shoulders I wanted. I had to remind myself that those new shoulders were coming — on the other side of another round of grueling, grinding, GREATNESS in the pool. That’s right — GREATNESS. The personal fortitude required by the brutal dance of holiday breaking it down means GREATNESS all the way through, mind and body.
Not all clubs engage in such harrowing "holiday" practices, but if yours does, here are some things you can do to transcend the madness. With the right mindset and a bit of derring-do in the pool, you can revamp and rejuvenate during this short break from daily routine. Whether you’re focusing on formidable workouts or concentrating on consummate technique, rising to the occasion is the ultimate priority. That’s why I’ve come to think of this time of the year as a time to break it all down. Yup, just like on the dance-floor. (You should see my jolly jiggery breaks on deck. The Shades has it, oh yes he does.)
How much breaking it down can YOU do? Let me count the ways:
1. Break it down in your body. Push beyond your past efforts. Extend and transcend. (But we’ve gone over that already.)
2. Break it down in your strokes. Tired, mid-season strokes can get ugly. So go with it and break it down some more, in the good ways. Kill it and drill it. (Then dance. I’m a drilly gettin’ silly.)
3. Break it down in your habits. The New Year is always an opportune time to rethink old habits and reprioritize new ones. Strategize and resolve with determination. Set yourself to a course of action for the rest of the season. (Make it a hoedown for your Finals showdown.)
4. Just break it all down. Get in the pool, pretend the lights are off (don’t turn them off; the lifeguards don’t like it), try something new, and then make something else up, just for fun. Develop your own funky wet-‘n’-wild style. (Then, name it here ______.)
Here in the collegiate swimming bubble, semester break means going home to show off new muscles — and new moves (that’s what I always did, anyway). When the college-athletes fill the club pool it’s more than just the water-level rising. It’s the competitive-level, the opportunity to create and rise to challenges. So go ahead, show off YOUR moves. Flash YOUR muscles (the mental ones and the physical ones). And don’t be afraid to ask nerdy swimming questions, either. Ask, teach, and be taught. We learn from each other, and we raise each other’s levels. That’s the true spirit of breaking it down for the holidays.
The swing is in the swim; so get your swerve on. Go break it down! Show ’em whatchya got! Go Swim!