Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to go on a training trip with the rest of my group. We went down to Cocoa Beach, Florida for one week of training. For those of you who do not know, training trips are fun but grueling work. To make matters worse, I injured my knee on the morning of the second day during dryland, meaning I had to pull the rest of the practices (and if you think this got me out of breaststroke and butterfly you are sorely mistaken). And with the transition from short course to long course came some added difficulty. Training trips, in general, are hard and while normally I would share tips on going through it, I feel the need to instead share my experience with it as many do not have the opportunity to experience one until college. And if it’s while they are younger, it is often very structured. My team, however, runs my group very similar to a college team to prepare us to swim at a college level and it is no different for the training trip.
One the first day we had practice and then proceeded to drive down to Savannah, Georgia where we stopped for the night. We got 6 hours of sleep if we were lucky and the motel was extremely sketchy. The beds were twin size and we had to sleep two to a bed so that in itself was uncomfortable and the entire time we debated if someone were to walk in who would be shot first.
The next morning we practiced with another team then walked over for breakfast/lunch at popular (although unheard of outside of the area) cafe. We continued the rest of the way to Cocoa Beach and proceeded to drop our stuff and run out to the beach immediately. A storm was coming so the waves were rough, perfect for us. We dove through wave after wave until we had to come back for dinner. The coaches drove us to eat dinner at a popular place, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Rules were laid out: curfew at 10 PM, text when you leave the hotel and when you get back, leave with at least one other person, etc. On the way back from dinner we stopped at Winn Dixie to stock up on groceries.
The next morning we did not have dryland, but instead, we were immediately hammered with a distance set. Lunch for the girls meant to shop at Ron Jons and then to eat at a small burrito place next door. Ron Jons was right next to the hotel so it was convenient. We had a ‘mid-distance’ set that afternoon. If your definition of mid-distance is 14 200s free on 2:40 long course that is. Dinner left almost everyone walking across the street for pizza. We were too tired to come up with anything else and it was convenient.
Tuesday morning practice left everyone tired between the running, abs, and an IM set. Many ate lunch in their rooms with the food bought form Winn Dixie. Many went to the beach before afternoon practice consisting of a bunch of IM. The girls went out to a restaurant right next to the hotel in Ron Jon that night. That night we had a late night game of Paranoia.
Wednesday morning meant beach volleyball for dryland along with a 30-minute straight swim. Based on how far we went, we had to do a pace set after that. For lunch, my friend and I went for pizza again. That afternoon we had a recovery set (thank whatever deity or god you believe in). Dinner left almost everyone but me and two other girls going to Outback for a special $12 steak meal special. The other girls and I stayed behind with one ordering Jimmy Johns, and the other girl and I walked over to the burrito place for me and McDonalds for her (we got McFluries… shhhhhhhh). We enjoyed the quiet that came with not having the five other girls (we had connecting rooms so eight girls in one cramped space is not peaceful).
Thursday meant race day, which for that day meant a longer race off the block followed by a few hundreds of pace. Lunch was whatever was leftover as we had to leave the next day. That afternoon practice gave no reprieve. It was a classic that we do every so often that included primary 200s. While I did well, I was very far behind as, because I am a freestyler, I had to do backstroke where everyone else is doing free. Our coach grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. He bought a salad that no one even thought to open, although we devoured all of the fruit he bought within the first 3 minutes.
Friday morning left us doing another classic (the Freak) followed by a distance set. It was supposed to be a three-hour practice, but a large storm was coming so our coach cut it off so we wouldn’t have to drive through the worst of it. Lunch was whatever we bought at the gas station we stopped at. Dinner was a quick pick-up at Panera’s. We stopped for the night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Saturday morning we trained a free/primary/IM set of 200s. After practice, we stopped at Bojangles for breakfast.lunch and made it back home.
Overall, the trip, while hard, was a lot of fun and one of my favorite experiences in swimming. While it was difficult, I feel like a much better swimmer (partially because my pull is about 100x better than it was). If you can, I would recommend going on a training trip if the opportunity presents itself. It is an amazing experience.