Getting ready for the Olympic Games is an experience to say the least. It's what I've worked towards for the past 10 years of my Synchro career, and another 6 years before that when I was only swimming competitively. The Olympics were always a goal. So after being asked by a few of you what my actual "work days" are like, and what a normal endurance set for us would be like for training our routines!
I felt like today was a good example, and I decided to use it to write about what actually goes into a day of practice for me while getting ready for the Games! For those of you who know or do Synchronized Swimming, you're gonna cringe at some of the workouts, for those of you who don't...I'll be willing to bet you'll cringe at the hours.
Our day starts off at a normal hour, nothing crazy early. We normally arrive at the pool at 8:15am in order to set the music system up before our practice starts at 8:30am. From 8:30am-11:30am, we do a swim warm-up consisting of a 200-400 freestyle, 200 IM (Individual Medley - Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle) kick, 200 IM pull. Then depending on the day, we can do a long hypoxic set, and/or go straight to sprints that can range in sets of 25s - 100s. The workout itself only takes around 30-45 minutes, as to not get into too much Synchro time. After that's done, we spend a bit of time doing basic skills, stretching out, and just making sure we remember corrections from the day before. Then the real work begins. Lately, we have a set that we do with weights! These weights normally are a 2Kilo weight belt, and is occasionally paired with ankle weights weighing about a pound each. Coach picks 6 sections, in both routines, that we do 6 times each with about 20 seconds rest in between each repetition. (Unless we need to do something better, in which case we continue to repeat that section until it's where it needs to be!) Now just a reminder, we practice in the diving well. That's 17ft of water! There is no touching the bottom OR the wall during these sets! How many of you have tried Synchro? How many of you have tried it without touching the bottom? How many of you have tried it with an extra 5 pounds strapped to your body?
Alright! Practice one for the day finished! Now it's time to drive to St. Vincent's Sport Performance! Eat lunch in the car and spend time with the AMAZING trainers there to take care of sore muscles and potential injuries. Then it's time for weights. We work with a trainer for an hour in order to get stronger on land and transfer that stability into the water. (everyone knows synchronized swimmers don't do well with gravity without a little help...lol!) It's now about 2pm and it's time to head back to the pool for practice number two!
2:30 rolls around and we're diving back in at the good ol' IUPUI Natatorium. Afternoon practice consists of a warm up to loosen up tight muscles and more stretching so that we don't pull anything. More repetition of a few different pieces of our routines to make sure we're synchronized, doing the same thing, and a little bit more matching happens. The synchronization and matching of a Synchro routine is never finished. We're always working towards that perfect swim, that perfect score.
Then the "set" comes. The extra weight is done for the day, so it's just ourselves that we have to hold up out of the water. It goes a little something like this:
2 Minutes Rest
5 Minutes Rest
5 Minutes Rest, Repeat with Other routine
**For you Synchro Newbies out there that read my blog, a Swim Through is when we do the entire routine. This is what we compete with, and is our entire performance in one swift go. Depending on which routine, it's either 2 and a half minutes, or 3 and a half minutes of pushing your body to it's max. The "Last Lap" is the very last section of our routine. It's normally the hardest part as it's written to showcase your very best talents even after your muscles are aching from lactic acid, and your lungs are burning from holding your breath. It's the last hurrah as a grand finale to pull out all the stops and push the limit's of athleticism.
Needless to say, I'm exhausted. But the day's not over yet! After practice ends around 5pm, I head home for Dinner. After Dinner I watch the video from Today's practice, write down my corrections, and go over the routine in my head. Maybe listen to the music a time or two so that the rhythm is ingrained.
Whoo! I'm tired! It's around 8:30pm now, and I'm writing this blog post. Talk about a full time job in order to do the sport you love! It's all worth it when I realize I'm leaving for the Olympic Games in less that a week! I'm super excited and I'll be keeping everyone posted on training and the village once I'm over seas!!! Can't wait!
What else should I talk about? Don't be afraid to ask questions!