Column: Second half of swim season begins, bringing difficulties

For swimmers, it’s halftime of our season, and while we do not have another meet for more than a month, there seems to be more going on than ever.

Prior to Thanksgiving break, we competed in the Mizzou Invite, our first opportunity of the season to shave and taper for a meet. As a whole, our team performed very well. On both the men’s and women’s side, we had one individual and three relays make “A” cuts for the NCAA championships, and multiple other swimmers should be right on the bubble of qualifying. The men’s team moved up to a number two national ranking in one poll and number three in another.

While the meet went well, the transition from taper to hard training is a tough one. The week after the meet, we immediately began preparing for our next meet, an invitational hosted by Arizona Jan. 2, 2015. While most students were home for break, we had two practices Monday, two Tuesday, and one Wednesday morning. That included two lifts and an exponential increase in yardage from the workouts we did during taper—all in all, three long days.

Afterwards, though, we got a welcome four-day break during which we were allowed to go home for Thanksgiving. This week, we resumed our normal nine-workout-per-week schedule, complete with 6 a.m. practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the swimmers’ minds, the Mizzou Invite represents the halfway point in our season. Our training cycle restarts now, with a few weeks of aerobic training in the period before our next meet. Eventually we will transition back into more anaerobic, quality-based workouts and finally, taper.

This time of year is not exactly fun for swimmers. Typically, our uses the period between Mizzou Invite and the start of the second semester to build back into top shape. We have to get used to high volume training again and don’t have a meet in the near future to break it up. This year, we at least have a trip to Arizona to look forward to; last year we had an even longer wait for our next meet after Mizzou Invite.

In addition to the tough training, we have the academic stresses that come with the semester’s end and finals week to deal with. This is not an ideal time to miss practices, so we have to find time to do the extra studying for finals while already exhausted from training. It’s a tough three weeks to be sure, but the momentum from a good performance at Mizzou Invite is very helpful in getting us through it.

We just finished the meet we spent months looking forward to, and it is hard to move on seamlessly to training, especially with the new feeling of having earned our highest ranking in program history. On top of that, we all have finals week and the imminent hard training on our minds. Others evaluate swim teams by our performances in meets, and Mzzou Invite put us on the right path to have a special year, but this is the time of year that will make or break our season.

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