Winter Training Survival Guide 101

Photo Courtesy: Ian MacNicol

By Olivia McKelvey, Swimming World College Intern. 

‘Tis the season for coaches to inflict unlimited hours of training and pain upon their swimmers is now. In order to help all aquatic athletes – college, club, high school etc. – Swimming World has accumulated a list of tips and tricks to help you get through your holiday bulking season.

Protein is Your Best Friend

Balanced diet

Photo Courtesy: Jessica Faissal

When swimming doubles and possibly even triples some days in combination with dryland and lifting sessions, one of the main priorities is refueling your body. Foods such as chicken, eggs, nuts, and even Greek yogurt are great protein options to rebuild muscle. When burning an excessive amount of calories from the excessive amount of swimming, food is important. Maintaining a healthy diet with rich protein sources is also key. As some like to say, treat your body like a temple.

Negativity is Not Going to Get you Anywhere

If there is one universal agreement swimmers have about winter training, it is this: to say it is hard is an understatement. Practices are going to break you down both mentally and physically. The only way to accept this fate is to make the most out of your training and remain positive. If you have a pessimistic outlook on your training, your performance is going to reflect pessimistic results. So next time you enter the pool deck, leave the “I can’ts” and the “this is not fair” comments at the door.

Foam Roll like There is No Tomorrow


Photo Courtesy: Booya Fitness

Your limbs and muscles are definitely going to be sore. Your noodle-like ligaments will be  screaming for attention, so grab a foam roller and roll out as much as you can. The pain will be much more manageable, and your ability to recover faster and perform better at practice is well worth it.

Remember, You’re not Alone


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Just know that although you may feel like you are suffering more than your friends who are already at home for the holidays chillaxing on their couch and Netflixing through the remainder of 2018, remember that there is a whole other community that knows exactly what you’re going through. Your team is your shoulder to lean on. Whether you need to cry, scream, laugh or dance it out, you have all your teammates who can relate on all levels. Lean on them, and they will become your saving grace.

If You’re not Swimming or Eating, SLEEP!

This one is pretty short, sweet and simple. Sleep is a harmonious thing, and there is no better feeling than crawling back into your nest of blankets and pillows after an exhausting practice. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to nap. May your heads hit your pillows harder than your hands hits the touchpad.

You’ll Thank your Coach Later


Photo Courtesy: Florida Tech Athletics

There are going to be sets that your coach writes and you just think, “What did I do to deserve this?” Remember: the pain is only temporary, and coaches write practices knowing that they will make you better. Your coach only wants the best for you, and sometimes breaking you down is what you need in order to get to where you want to go to and achieve your goals. As our beloved Kelly Clarkson once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Hydration is Key…Even for your Skin


Photo Courtesy: Sue Borst

Make sure to get all your electrolytes in before, during, and after all training sessions. Dehydration is not to be taken lightly. As stated earlier, correctly fueling your body is one of the most important things you can do to balance a healthy lifestyle while being a machine in the water. Another valued hydration task for swimmers is to protect your skin. If you didn’t use lotion before, think again. Jergens, Neutrogena and Aveeno are now your best friend. If you don’t want to see dead skin peeling off of every inch of your body or constantly becoming itchy from the chlorine, be sure to apply, apply, apply!

That’s A Wrap!

Now that you have an arsenal of survival pointers, you are ready to take on winter training. Swimming World wishes you the best as you embark on your journey of continuous improvement (and pain). It’s the dedication, commitment, and perseverance you experience now that could make or break your goals down the road. Happy holidays – the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than you think.

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


  1. Byron Shefchik

    What in the world is Winter Training? Ohhh, you must mean Christmas training!

  2. Frank Elenio

    Anne Warren you taught me well