Holiday Hell Weeks

By Emily Mason

PHOENIX, Ariz., December 25. IT'S that time of year. Coaches are planning ahead and swimmers are living in fear, waiting for the hardship that is holiday training.

The holiday season and the extended break from school give coaches and swimmers alike the chance to make some adjustments in the training schedule. Senior swimmers can now practice later in the morning with no fear of missing their first hour of class, go home and nap, come back in the afternoon and start over again.

Some swimmers just expect it, they get through it one way or another, but for some it turns into a motivating challenge.

During my years in high school, our winter break was a challenge. My head coach Jim Nickell had a plan and a reward for us every year, should we survive….

Looking back on it all, it wasn't as bad as we all made it out to be. It is crazy what a positive attitude can do. Isn't it easier, after all, to swim a hard workout with positive thoughts instead of "I hate this" or "this stinks." I guarantee it will feel like a never-ending workout should you think that way.

Our challenge was 20 workouts, 10,000 meters each totaling 200,000 meters. We would have five or six workouts in a row and then an afternoon or an evening off before we went into six or seven in a row. The reward? A paid meal at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, one of the nicer steakhouses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

I made it three out of four years, only due to a shoulder injury sidelining me for the last three workouts in my last year. Anyways, some of my favorite, and not so favorite sets came out of these practices.

All Time Favorite:

12 x 400's

1 @ 5:00
1 @ 4:50
1 @ 4:40 Repeat Three Times

I mostly loved this set because I was the only survivor, all of our boys had to stop and "reset." I was offered the reset but was so intent on finishing I refused.

Most Hated Set:

2 x 1000's #1 @ 10:30 #2 @ 10:15
2 x 800's #1 @ 8:30 #2 @ 8:15
2 x 600's #1 @ 6:15 #2 @ 6:10
2 x 400's #1 @ 4:15 #2 @ 4:10
2 x 200's #1 @ 2:10 #2 Fast

With a negative attitude in tow I turned this set into a "make the interval and live through it" kind of workout. Big mistake.

A few other classic holiday sets:

4 x 1000's descend 1-4

The ever popular 3000 for time or 10,000.

20 x 300's or 30 x 200's (Take your pick, all freestyle)

10 x 400 IM's descend even ones to fast.

30 x 100's Fast Average

Have a great holiday season and good luck!

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