The 10 Sayings of Swimsmas

Christmas Tree
Photo Courtesy: National Park Service

By Tucker Rivera, Swimming World College Intern.

The weather is getting colder and you’re finishing up the semester. It’s six o’clock on a Saturday morning and Christmas music is being played on the radio at an appropriate time of the year – but unlike the rest of your non-swimming friends who cherish winter break, you’re terrified. You think of winter break as a different beast. You think of winter break as one thing, and one thing only: hell week.

Whether you’re a DI swimmer or still an age-group swimmer, the month of December means more to your success than any non-swimmer could ever imagine. Colloquially known as the hardest month of training for almost every team in the United States, swimmers are clued in to the difficulty of a given practice by the cadence of their coach(es).

As Hanukkah and finals come to an end, we might hear our coaches forego the 12 Days of Christmas to sing the eerie 10 Sayings of Swimsmas. If you hear your coach utter any of the following sentences, it might just be that special time of year:

1. “The Sprinters are swimming distance, too.”


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Yardage is destined to SKYROCKET at this time of the year. If Santa is going to be able to complete the long haul, we’re all going to have to put in some dirty work.

2. “Today’s gonna be a great day.”

training trip-uvm-vermont-tired-practice-hard

Photo Courtesy: Kristina Posnick

If you hear your coach say this sentence in any form or fashion, it’s probably a bad sign. Chances are, it’s going to be a rough day: a rewarding day, a necessary practice, but also a rough day.

3. “Tomorrow will be easier.”

This is your coach trying to give you a hint that tomorrow is going to be just as difficult. Beware.

4. “See you in the morning.”


Photo Courtesy: Sophie Allen

While all of your friends are taking winter break to catch up on sleep, you’re spending three weeks waking up earlier than you would have if you had gone to school every morning. Nothing says vacation like a good 7:00 a.m. 7,000 LCM practice.

5. “See you tonight.”


Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

School’s not in session, and now you don’t have an excuse for getting out of doubles.

6. “Last practice of the year!!!”


Photo Courtesy: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a 100 percent chance that your coach will use this cringe-worthy catchphrase on December 31. This is not optional; this is simply too good of an opportunity to use a decent dad joke.

7. “First practice of the year!!!”

Because you laughed at their joke yesterday, your coach will attempt to recreate their comedic legend. They will not succeed, because you’re grumpy that you still have practice on January 1.

8. “This is Hell Week.”


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

You and your coach both know darn well that “Hell Week” is really three weeks long.

9. “Happy Holidays.”

They probably mean this one! Reciprocate the love!

10. “I got you a present!”

Christmas presents under the tree

Photo Courtesy: Alan Cleaver

There are two things that could happen to you when your coach says this during the holiday season. One, you’re getting out of practice early, or two, you’re in for a very difficult practice.

The latter, unfortunately, is significantly more likely.

The True Meaning of Swimsmas

Whether you’re in California or Montana, New York or Miami, training in the winter is harder than any other point in the year. While you may despise the holiday season, it’s a pivotal point in the short-course season. A successful winter session means that you’ll probably swim faster at the end of March.

Your coach may frustrate you and your schedule may exhaust you, but if you stick to it and remember that taper is the light at the end of the tunnel, you’ll be certain to have a happy New Year.

Happy Holidays!

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.