Editor’s note: Thanks to SwimSwam contributor Carly Geehr for submitting this piece. Geehr was a member of the U.S. team at the 1997 Pan Pac Championships and the 1999 Pan Ams Championship, is a former multiple-time National Age Group Record holder, CIF Record holder, and qualified for those Pan Pac Championships in 1997 at just 12 years old when she went a 1:09.87.
If you want to get “that look” from a swimmer, ask her, “So, when’s swim season?” (The correct answer is: all the time. Also acceptable: facepalm.)
When, at the end of the championship season, the times are official and we look back on the prior 51 weeks of the year with exhaustion and pride, something magical happens. Week 52. It’s strange and unfamiliar: a Real Break.
We have our teaser moments, after a mid-year taper meet, when we believe we’re entitled to a day or two to “ease back into things.” On the plane ride back from Nationals one year, I listened with horror as my coach laughed at my misplaced hopes and told me I’d do great on the 6×500′s tomorrow because “you’re already tapered.” Sometimes there are the unexpected breaks, where lightning or power outages keep us out of the pool. But the best we can do most of the time is sleep in on Sundays and hope that no one’s kickboard freezes to the ground the next morning.
But not during Week 52. Week 52 is ours! We trade the early mornings, the perpetually wet hair, the goggle marks, and the aching need to shovel carbohydrates down our gullets by the pound (well, maybe not that last one) for total freedom. Some go on vacation, some spend time with family and friends, and some take naps that would make Garfield blush, but we all recharge the mental and physical batteries that operate with tireless dedication for 51 weeks of the year.
The first days of a Real Break are exhilaratingly liberating. Staying up late, sleeping in, no more “Sorry guys, I have practice.” We think, this is what we’ve been missing out on all year long! But then – we start to miss it. We miss the pool, and all that comes with it. Sure there’s a bit of dread about the physical pain we’ll endure as training ramps back up, but there’s a part of us that wants to get back in. Set new goals. Push our teammates. Do the work.
The reality is, we love to swim. Week 52 is certainly a welcome, rare indulgence, but it just reminds us that really, try as we might, we can’t stay away from the pool.
When you get down to it, Week 1 can’t come back around soon enough.
Welcome to the 2013-2014 swim season. It’s week 1. Get your grind on.