I have been down here in sunny Southern Florida for the past three days, and I have been loving every moment. My sun burned, face, neck, and arms are proof that I may be loving it too much. We are in the midst of our annual Florida training trip. This is the one time of the year that our athletes have the ability to train the way that allot of other division one schools do all year. While we are down here the standard day is a practice in the morning and a practice in the evening. Both practices are full practices where we try to accomplish a few goals. In addition there is either an hour dryland routine or weight workout everyday. As a result of all of this hard work our athletes transform themselves into lean fit swimmers. All in all they spend five hours a day training and the other 19 just hanging out.
Escaping the gray of winter in the northeast has provided the impetus for training that we have been looking forward to. The training has been brought to an intensity that we cannot hope to accomplish during the academic portion of the season. In eight short days, they seem that way to me but probably not to the athletes, we push our athletes to their limits and beyond. With the sprint group we have been transitioning into a speed development phase while still working on getting everyone into their peak physical condition. My favorite set that we have been doing down here is run and jump 100ï¿½s. Training at an outdoor facility in warm weather allows us to make use of a concrete launch pad. The entire group gets out of the pool and lines up on the deck behind their lanes. They run as fast as they can and when they get close to the edge of the pool they jump out as far as they can. At the end of each 25 they have to hop, and I emphasize hop not crawl, out of the pool to do it again. The goal is to have as smooth an entry as possible at maximum speed. It is also a challenging set physically having to run and jump all out. When they enter the water they end up traveling at speeds above what they could possibly swim at. I want them to use this sensation to maximize efficiency on certain aspects of their races. This is how we did the run and jumps the other day.
4 x 100 Run and Jumps @ :30RI
Your choice of stroke
#1 Accelerated breakouts
#2 Underwater Fly Kicks, Br Double pullouts
#3 Multiple somersaults
#4 Fast finish w/ a somersault
On the accelerated breakouts the object was to take the momentum that was created from running on the pool deck and break out at maximum velocity. In order to keep that speed going the athletes had to focus on breaking out forward not up. The athletes only had to take two fast strokes so that they would focus solely on the breakout. The next one was designed to combine the speed of running with creating your own propulsion. On the multiple somersaults the objective was to tuck as tight as they could and spin as many times as they could. The tighter they tucked the more times they spun around. The last one was all out 25 with a turn finish. They just end with their feet on the wall without pushing off. This is something that I do with my athletes who are all very physically fit and can do this without injury. This is just one of the ways that we have taken advantage of the change of venues.
Having the change of venues is certainly helpful for our training needs, but that only takes up five hours of the day. What happens the other nineteen hours is just as important for the success of our team. We stay in an efficiency style hotel that has two bedrooms, a living area, and a kitchen. There are four athletes that have to learn how to share an efficiency together. For many of them it is the first time that they have had to shop and cook on their own. Without any schoolwork, or outside social agendas the athletes are forced to share in their misery, misery is a bit of over exaggeration but it would sound like it if you talked to them. The common suffering brings all of the athletes together in the same way that any sort of persevering event will bring a group together. The feeling of the team is that if we can all get through this together there is nothing that can stop us. That attitude is what has given us the right frame of mind to end up the season, and last season end with on top.
As a coach it also gives me the opportunity to get to know my athletes on a stupid level. This is a very important and under utilized level when dealing with young athletes. I really enjoy using this time to laugh with my athletes. During the semester there is only a limited time that I see them during the day. We have our two hours of practice together and then I retreat back to my office, and they head home to do homework. Over training trip we spend all day together. I had the chance to talk to one of my female athletes today about Alaska. She is the only person that I have ever met from Alaska and having never been there I showed her how ignorant I was. She was telling me about growing up having full days of light. During the summer dusk is the darkest it gets where she lives. I thought that must have made for a great childhood. I explained that I always had to be home at dark, which meant that at the latest I could stay out until nine. That meant that she didnï¿½t have to come home until 5:30 in the morning.
Next week I will be writing from home in the great white north. I am sure that I will miss the sun and time spent here in Florida, but I know that it will have been time well spent. In addition we will have the benefit of being visited Mr. Glenn Mills himself.