6 Things You Need To Survive Holiday Training

It’s that time of year again! Hell week is quickly approaching, the week between Christmas and New Years when swimmers do a month’s worth of training in five long, difficult days. Here’s what you’re going to need to get through it:

1. Ice

ice, ice cubes, rights free, stockCranking thousands of yards a day can do some serious damage to your shoulders if you don’t keep the strength up and the swelling down. Rest, ice, and heat in between practices will keep your body in optimal condition. (Remember: 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.)

2. Advil

Soreness is difficult to avoid and by the end of the week, the swimmer population of the world may be singlehandedly buying out the local drugstore’s supplies of Advil and Aleve. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. We’re all in this together.

3. Teammates

Michael Phelps after the 100 fly prelim - 2014 Arena Grand Prix in Mesa (courtesy of Rafael Domeyko, rafaeldomeyko.com)

(courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

When trying to push through a tough set, one thought always comes to mind: There are eight other people in this lane that are doomed to the same fate. Encouraging one another throughout these long workouts brings a positive thought to your mind and puts a positive thought in someone else’s. Pass it on.

4. Rollers

Tight muscles can be a swimmer’s worst enemy when the hours get long. Grab a foam roller to roll out your thighs and calves to prevent cramping. It might hurt now, but you’ll be glad you did it later.

5. Food

The best thing about this week is that you’ll be burning a zillion calories a day–which means you need to eat just as much to keep yourself energized. Make sure to snack on foods with protein and ingredients that will sustain you. Avoid refined sugar if you can help it. Try breads, pastas, and grains. Carbs galore!

6. Positivity

_Ervin_Anthony 31 Anthony Ervin California Aquat Ervin PC-TB1_2499-Yup, it sucks spending every waking hour of your winter break drenched in chlorine, but the best way to look at it is as an opportunity to improve. While you’re spending hours staring at a black line during this week of pain, think of all of your non-swimmer friends who are spending their break laying in bed watching Netflix and eating chips. When it’s over, you can look back and reflect on how hard you worked. Be proud.

It may seem bad now, but this week is one of the most important weeks of the year. This week, races are won and lost. Cuts are made and missed. What you put into this training is what you will get out of it. If you put forth your best effort, your future self will be thankful in February when championship season comes around and you finally break that personal best.

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6 years ago

Confused. Is this for NCAA swimmers only, perhaps even mostly just D1? I don’t have the knowledge and found no clues in the article.

Bryana Cielo
6 years ago

This article is directed toward competitive high-school aged club swimmers who have vigorous training as well as college swimmers.

Reply to  Bryana Cielo
6 years ago

Thanks Bryana. My son is 17 and his normal schedule is kind of like that: 9 x 2.5 hour practice sessions per week with 3 weekday morning practices in the water at 4:30am. Who needs a hell week when they have it all year long?

6 years ago

Winter training is more intense than the regular swimming schedule. The practices themselves are harder and there are multiple per day, usually longer than regular practices

Kevin T
6 years ago

This is child abuse. Kids should be enjoying their Christmas holiday break. Not swimming themselves to the point of total exhaustion. What a horrible way to spend one’s childhood.

Reply to  Kevin T
6 years ago

You really have to be a swimmer to understand Christmas training. It’s a lot of work and a lot of pain. It’s long days and not long enough nights, but when you get to your taper meet and think back to all the work you’ve done and everything that you’ve survived it’s one of the most motivating thigs. Also most swimmers think of their team as part of their family so they still get to spend break with the people they care about.

Reply to  Kate
6 years ago

Christmas training is hardwork with amazing payoffs- swimmers work hard and play hard! I did these trips from the time I was 13-14 to the end of my college career. Each one has amazing memories. I wouldn’t train the pain of that training for anything! I still keep in touch with most of my college teammates and lots of swimmers I swam in age group with. This is a choice for kids who love to swim. I also know I’m a stronger person because of this training.

Reply to  Kate
6 years ago

Yes I agree. You really have to be a swimmer to get it. And theres this enormous sense of pride after you compete well. Its 1000% worth the work.

Reply to  Kevin T
6 years ago

You or anyone you know is obviously not a swimmer by your comment

6 years ago

Kevin T have you heard of college training trips? I’d venture to guess that this article was directed towards that and perhaps high school aged club swimmers, not necessarily younger age groupers.

Reply to  Stoyle
6 years ago

…my holiday training was like this from the age of 14 on… It’s what most swimmers do.

About Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo Shortly after Bryana Cielo’s birth, she developed her love of water at her family beach house–and hasn’t stopped since. At the conclusion of her swim lessons at age 7, it was recommended that she try out for the local summer swim team. After her first season, she won the …

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