Canada’s top swimmers are hard at work across the country – and even across the border – as they prepare for the Canadian Swimming Trials in April.?? The road to representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow or the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia recently ran through Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Athletes from the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria had a three-week training camp before competing at the USA Swimming Grand Prix in Orlando, Fla.
?This is the second in a series of athlete diaries from 20-year-old Olympian Alec Page of Cortes Island, B.C. In this edition Page attempts to identify a mysterious yellow orb in the sky, shares some detail about the training, and picks a fight with the wrong crab.
Life training in Fort Lauderdale became quite routine, much like our training back home in Victoria. There are, however, a few differences between Fort Lauderdale and Victoria at this time of the year. There seems to be a large bright ball in the sky giving off warmth as well as practically no descending precipitation which all of us here are accustomed to, living in Victoria. Life outside the pool has had quite a relaxing and warm sense to it, training however has been quite a different endeavour.
Following a similar template to most of our training camps, our 6-day training cycles go as follows; double, double, single, double, double, day off. Every “double” day (meaning two in-pool training sessions day) consists of similar focuses but different sets, all of which are set to help us improve our individual events. The “double” days are also paired with a single dry-land session composed of either a maximal output cardio workout (exercises including wind sprints and cycling) or an hour-long weight room session focusing on power output and muscular endurance. As each training cycle progresses the demand to keep focus and maintain a high level of training also increases. Using variables that we can control in the water (e.g. stroke count, time, turning strategy, kicks off the wall) we manage to improve the sets we do from week to week, despite the tremendous load on our body from training.
The beginning of the first week started out quite normally. We all decided to ride bikes to and from the pool, only a ten-minute ride so it was a good pre-workout warm up to start off each practice. As the first few workouts rolled by, each one of us showed a high level of energy in and out of the pool. The week went as normal with a few practices to adapt to the new training environment as well as the accommodations. After the few relatively smooth workouts we went back into full training. The energy in the group managed to hold during the first week. Most of us had good workouts during the first six-day training cycle.
The second cycle of training was similar in format to the first, however the energy we all had going into the second week was lower due to the toll of the first training cycle. It was at this point that the effort required in each set increased as well as the amount of each set. This was the cycle that really set us up for the rest of the camp.
As the cycles went on the effort required to keep engaged in training increased, which becomes progressively difficult because the load of training had also increased. Dealing with that stress is much more a mental battle than a physical one and that is what our training really is all about. Knowing what set was on each day and learning how to better the set is how we always approach training. Measuring yourself week to week keeps you engaged in training as does keeping short-term goals.
Those are just a few of the things that our group specifically focuses on during yearly training as well as during training camps. What we focus on varies from person to person. Some of us keep our turning strategy in mind while others may put more emphasis on stroke technique. Although one focus may be more present in our heads at a given time, it is never an excuse to let other things slip out of our mind.
To get everything you want out of training you have to fully engage in every workout and buy in to every piece of athletic advice your coach gives you. That is truly the best way to maximize your training potential.
From the description given it may sound as if the entire training camp was focus, focus, focus without any give but of course that is not the case. On our days off we would venture out of our daily training regimens into more relaxing scenes. The one day off that stood out the most was during the end of training camp. We had rented a boat and toured around Fort Lauderdale’s inner harbours. The amount of yachts and multi-million dollar houses we saw was nothing short of ridiculous. After a relaxing seafood lunch we head down to the beach to spend some R&R. We participated in the typical beach day activities; playing in the water, looking for shells, digging giant holes. The usual stuff. I managed to aggravate a crab so much that it decided to clamp down on my thumb, which of course it was completely in the right to do.
All in all the three hard weeks of training paid off in the end. The Orlando Grand Prix went all right. For each of us it was a good indicator of the hard work we have put in and also gave us some confidence moving into the trials in April.