One of the longest, most mind-numbing, dreaded sets that you can think of, what is essentially 2.5 hours of stop-and-start swimming, stood as a holiday tradition of sorts at my home club in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
Sometime during Christmas training, which usually started on the 27th or 28th of December after the holiday festivities had wrapped up, the Trent Swim Club had the older groups do 100 consecutive repetitions of 100 metres freestyle (short course) on the fastest base time you could maintain. While there was always a bit of anticipation (dread) as to which practice it would fall on, the one practice scheduled for three hours rather than the usual two was a dead giveaway.
Ultimately, the set was more of a mental struggle than physical. If we’re repeating on 1:25s the whole way, that’s two hours and twenty-one minutes of grinding. 1:30s is two and half hours, and so on.
Keeping a positive mind frame and maybe making up a fun way of keeping track of which repeat you’re on in your own head can make the set go by faster. Counting using kickboards in groups of ten was one way to stay on top of it. And you’d be rewarded with some Tim Hortons Timbits and chocolate milk at the end (this is Canada, after all). However, if you started dreading how much you have left, you’re in for the long haul. And you’re probably gonna end up being one of the ones taking abnormally long (and frequent) bathroom breaks. Either way, Timbits for everyone. Also, lying on the couch and eating absurd amounts of food the rest of the day (or at least until afternoon practice) feels a little bit more satisfying knowing you’ve knocked out 10k in the water already that day.
This tradition wasn’t only for the club swimmers. A bunch of the local triathletes, including my dad, would do the set annually on Christmas Eve morning, though the jury’s still out on whether or not the full 100 has ever been completed. Even my mom and a few of her friends would attempt to complete the set over a series of workouts during the holiday season.
When I went off to university in Sudbury, I realized the 100 x 100s wasn’t just a Peterborough thing. I heard stories of how they had done the set at previous years of Christmas training as well. In my five years we never ended up doing it, thank goodness (though a best average set of 10 x 400 kick/swim quickly became my new least favorite set).
Happy holidays to all, and happy grinding to all the swimmers out there.