Zen and the Art of Swimming – Final Training Trip Blog Post
The expectation is high and the anticipation of writing this blog and doing it justice is killing me. The coaching voice inside my head speaks to me, “Just focus on one thing at a time, not the entire blog, one word at a time….just get started.” Why the anticipation? Well, I know my team, the backseat drivers, the analyst, the deep thinkings, the strong, intelligent Sweet Briar women who require more than a simple explanation, the ones who have as high of expectations for me as coach as I do for them as swimmers. So I will fall back on the advice of my “student coach”, Lydia Fleck who carefully staged our photo shoots, blog posts and overall presence in Florida this past week. “Coach your blog should include the quotes you gave us each day to keep us focused”. Not a bad idea, Lydia.
Workout #1: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
The first day of training always brings with it a lot of worry and concern, athletes wonder if they prepared properly for what lies ahead of them, they have questions about each workout and with this particular team they want to “mentally prepare” for the entire week. As a coach, I worry too. A training trip can make or break a team. If an athlete arrives unprepared for the increased training volume they can get injured and not able to recover and train properly for the end of season conference meet.. Grueling workouts and fatigue could also bring out the worst in a team and the team dynamic can carry over to the final leg of the season; the balance is precarious. Over ten plus years of taking training trips with teams, I have learned one sure thing SUN = SUCCESSFUL TRIP. We had sun!
Workout #2 : “Focus like a laser and not a flashlight” Michael Jordan
Swimming success takes focus, one small change in stroke technique can slow a swimmer down or give them an edge. The team focused like a laser all week!
Workout #3: “The whole idea is not to beat the other runners, eventually you learn the competition is against the little voice inside your head” George Sheehan
By workout three some athletes are feeling fatigued and wondering if they can get back in the pool and push hard for the next session. Of course, I too know that workout number three will challenge the team mentally and physically so I prepare one of the hardest workouts of the week. The voices that day were strong!
Workout #4: “A game of football is just sixty minutes, but I am training six, seven hours every day! So going for 60 minutes becomes easy” Ray Lewis
Ditto for swimming….except very few races last more than two and a half minutes. After logging 20 plus hours of training time in 6 days, we can face any race with confidence because no race will produce the blisters and soreness of the past week.
Workout #5: You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way”. Dr. Suess
The enticement of an afternoon at the beach in lieu of afternoon practice, got the team in the water and ripping through the workout!
Workout # 6: “I have put my mind and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process”. Vincent Van Gogh
My team thinks only a sick mind can concoct the crazy workouts I give to them. More importantly they know how much I would LOVE to do one of those crazy workouts. I had a chance to swim with the Palm Beach Masters a few mornings while in town. If you ever want to be surrounded by positive energy and a true love of the sport, jump into a masters (swimmers 18 to 100+) practice. I also believe that in every great athlete there is a little bit of “crazy” thus the quote. If you want to excel at something you have to be “crazy passionate” about pursuing that endeavor. (Note: the Vassar College coaches were also at the 5:45 AM practice with me – we are all just a little crazy!)
Workout #7: Just remember every moment, every situation, provides a new choice and in doing so, it give you an opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.” Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
If you are not happy with the way you are swimming, make a change! What do you need to do to go faster? Figure it out….
Workout #8: “May your choice reflect your hopes, not your fears”.
Each swimmer had a chance to pick the workout they wanted to complete. Each workout was a challenge and I have to say they choose wisely and picked the workout I would have chosen for them. NO FEAR in these VIXENS!
Workout #9 : “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”
As the training trip was coming to an end and the sun was turning to rain, it would be easy for negative thoughts to take over. However for each member of the team this training trip was going to carry with it a different meaning or memory, for Caroline Thomas and Hannah Obykhan they survived their first trip. Mary McDevitt made it through a week of double practices with her elbow intact. Claire Zak is now a veteran with a second trip under her belt. The five other seniors, Lydia Fleck, Kat Jorgensen, Kiersten Garcia, Caroline Shepard, and Molly VanBuren have completed four full years of trips with memories to keep discussions lively and fun through many years of reunions. The 80 year old master swimmer, training in the lane next to us, said it best , “Please tell these young women to cherish this time, it passes by too quickly!”
Workout #10 (Last workout in Florida) “Starting strong is good, finishing strong is epic”
This is an EPIC team, end of discussion!