Why “Off-Season” College Swimmers Should Stay In the Game this Summer

Photo Courtesy: David Wegiel

By Jake Renie, Swimming World College Intern

As the winter season and the second semester conclude for thousand of college swimmers around the United States, most go back home to visit family and friends, some get jobs to make money and pay for college, but some athletes will stay on campus and find work and train with their college coaches’ club team.

It is not allowed to by the NCAA for coaches to require their athletes to stay and train over the summers, but both you and I know that your coach has probably preached to the team the importance of getting your feet wet in the summer off-season.

As an NCAA student-athlete, let me be the first to tell you that your coach is not crazy.

I attend and swim at the University of Indianapolis, and this summer I decided to live in an apartment next to campus, work on campus, and train with my coaches, Jason Hite and Ashley Steenvoorden, at UIndy Aquatics. On my team, there five out of our 36 swimmers staying to train as a team over the summer. The other 31 swimmers went home– where it becomes honor code that they stay in shape over the summer.

It would be ignorant to conclude that all swimmers will train five to six days a week. It’s summer, people want to have fun with their friends that they grew up with, people want to work over 40 hours a week to help pay for college, and some just want to be couch potatoes to recover from a excruciating season.

I personally took off five weeks after the Great Lakes Valley Conference swim meet ended. I wish somehow I could have taken my break at a different time. I’m now on my fourth week of training and I know I’m still well out of shape, in contrast to my roommate, Patrick Kays, who took only one week off after Division II NCAAs.

I can only imagine how an athlete feels after taking the WHOLE summer off. As my head coach, Jason Hite, told our team before we left for school, “Why would you take two steps forwards this season, only to take three steps backwards when you don’t swim over the summer season?” Jason’s quote was the most simple and effective way to explain the importance of off-season training.

As I went home this past Memorial Day weekend to attend my best friend’s graduation party, I was privileged enough to train with head coaches Dan Ross and John Klinge on the Men’s and Women’s teams at Purdue University. Showing up for practice on Saturday morning, there were at least 40 swimmers ready to work hard (at least three of us from other universities). It was probably one of the best summer practices that I’ve ever had.

That day’s practice was off the blocks, 25’s, 50’s, and 100’s (depending on if you were a sprinter, IMer, or a distance swimmer), and most athletes can agree with me that those sets destroy you towards the end. In between rounds, not only were swimmers cheering inside their respected groups, they were also cheering for kids in OTHER groups. Cheers could be heard for former Purdue star Emily Fogle working towards the Olympic Trials in less than a month, as well as SIU senior captain Andy Ross working towards his first OT cut. It made you find new energy and a little more adrenaline knowing that you had teammates not only watching you, but wanting you to improve.

You may not be as motivated with no practice requirements in this off-season, but swimming once every weekday will benefit you when your college championships come around. If you ask any winner of any NCAA event, I would place money that they would all say they train over the summer season. It could be tedious, but as they say, “No pain, no gain!”

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7 years ago

I’d have thought some rest might be beneficial to your long term health as well as your swimming career which is presumably why the NCAA doesn’t allow coaches to require you to stay and train over the summer

7 years ago
Reply to  Tony

Swimming over a period of time only has greater benefits to your long term health than doing nothing.

7 years ago

I am a parent whose kids swam in high school and during the summer they would also swim and work. When they got back to the high school swimming season they would always comment how the kids that did not swim over the summer really fell behind the others.

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