Column: Christmas training not so bad this year

Mizzou swimmers will spend a few days in sunny Arizona over winter break to train.

When most people hear the word “Christmas,” they think of a fun, relaxing holiday. When swimmers hear “Christmas,” we think of Christmas training, and it evokes very different feelings.

Even as a 12-year-old beginner, I remember having especially long and difficult practices over the two-week break from school. During winter break this year, the annual tradition will be renewed, but a little bit differently than last year.

Since we do not have class to attend or homework to do over the break, the coaches know we have more time to commit to swimming. That means we will have a few more practices than usual, such as one on a Sunday, and during those practices we can expect a higher volume of yardage and intensity than usual.

The idea behind Christmas training, for all swim teams, is that it is the last opportunity to solidify an aerobic base before championship meets at the end of the season. It can be grueling, especially over a winter break as long as ours is. Luckily, the five-week break will be broken up more manageable periods this year.

Many college teams take training trips over winter break to change up the setting during the tough training. One of the biggest complaints among swimmers here was that we never take a training trip — until now.

We have a meet in Arizona on Jan. 2, 2015. Afterward, we get to stay in Tucson and train in (hopefully) warm Arizona for a couple of days. It isn’t a long trip, but it certainly beats spending the entire break in cold, deserted Columbia.

In addition, we get to go home for six days to celebrate Christmas. We will swim five times in the three days after finals week — twice Saturday, once Sunday, and twice Monday — then we will be allowed to go home until Dec. 29. Then, we will depart for Arizona early on New Year’s Day. While we will undoubtedly work hard in Tucson, it will be a lot easier to do so in a new, warm setting alongside another team.

After we return from Arizona, we will only have about another week of training before we travel to another meet at South Carolina on Jan. 17. Then, of course, classes resume on Jan. 20.

Christmas training actually gives us a lot to look forward to this year, which is a very welcome change.

And since this is my last column of the semester, a few dates to look forward to for the swim team: We host Auburn on Jan. 29 for our team’s senior day. Then, we will travel to Auburn for the Southeastern Conference Championships on Feb. 17-21. Finally, the NCAA Championships will bring our season to a close March 26-28.

I hope this column has given you a new appreciation for how hard all student-athletes work, and as a result, I hope we will have a big crowd at the Auburn meet and other Mizzou sporting events next semester.

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