To The Training Group I Never Thought I’d Have

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Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

By Maddie Strasen, Swimming World College Intern

Your training group is seemingly who you spend almost all your time with. There’s something comforting in knowing you aren’t struggling through a swim practice or a lift session by yourself.

Training groups are the people you can be open with about your training, regardless of the circumstances, because you know they’ll understand and see your perspective. However, not everyone stays in the same training group—prime strokes and “best” events can vary throughout your swimming career.

I came into my first season of college swimming as a breaststroker. Less than halfway into the season, it was very clear I was forcing it way too hard. My stroke didn’t feel long or smooth as it used to, and my times weren’t anywhere near where I expected them to be or where they were in high school.

Moving back and forth between sprint group and stroke group, as would be expected for a breaststroker, I very clearly did not fit into either one. After months of tears and frustration, my coaches decided to try putting me into a distance practice, which appeared to be quite a stretch.

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Photo Courtesy: UVM Athletics

Two broken miles later, it was very clear that freestyle and I were about to go on quite the ride.

Over training trip, I stretched out a bit more time in sprint and stroke groups, but after returning to campus, just a short month before championships, I entirely transitioned to distance group.

The decision to move groups might not seem like a colossal issue, however, the increase in yardage shortly before conference could be considered very risky, not to mention my overall frustration with being tossed back and forth among three different training groups. As a freshman with no set training group, no set training plan, no set events, and no set plan for championships, I felt incredibly lost.

Luckily for me, an extremely strong group of women stepped up to make me feel like I belonged. The ladies training in distance group are extremely empowering, pushing themselves to their fullest potential every single practice and every single yard. Despite the jokes about the pain distance swimmers go through and the “do-you-know-what-you’re-in-for”s, they not only gave me a space in the lane but they gave me a place on the team.

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Photo Courtesy: Katie Arend

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to train with you. Thank you for pushing me harder than I ever thought I could. Thank you for holding me accountable to what you know I’m capable of. Thank you for understanding me when I have bad swims, and thank you for being happy for me when I have good swims. Thank you for the late night locker room talks, when everyone else has gotten out of practice way earlier than we have. Thank you for the advice, the understanding, and even the shoulders to cry on.

Although we might find ourselves where we never expected to end up, swimming careers take many different turns for many different reasons. What seems like a slump might be an opportunity for something better to arise. Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone is going to find themselves doing completely different events as I did, but it might lead you on a course of trying out new training habits. If you do, I hope you find amazing teammates to uplift you in everything you strive to accomplish.

Here’s to the next three years many more yards, many more 500s, 1000s, and miles with the best company possible.

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Photo Courtesy: Abby Holmquist

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