December 18, 2008

Today marked the first day where we could look back and see more days of training trip than when we look forward. Unfortunately, it seems we are more busy now than before so most of our energy is put towards essential actions like eating, sleeping, and - unless Greg says otherwise - breathing.

This morning practice was bitter sweet. The sprint group caught a much needed break from the wraith of Greg, but every inch we were given was felt ten fold by the distance group. While I was not "privileged" to swim their set I am told it topped well over 7,000 meters in just under two hours. Mid distance and Sprint had a far easier, but still somewhat challenging workout in the morning consisting of sprints, breath control, and an interesting start / mid pool turn relay event that pitted the mid distance group against the sprint group in a battle best suited for the pages of our children's history books! Mid Distance won, but it is not without a considerable handicap from Greg (setting the Sprint groups turn point two yards back) so it is almost impossible to determine who "really" won - I like to think it was me.

The time spent between Morning and Afternoon practice seemed to zip by for me - probably on account of I took a three hour nap. I am told some swimmers went to the beach, others chose the hotel pool, and even others chose the comforts of their rooms. Whatever the means, the six hours each swimmer has between practices seems to always be spent relaxing in one form or another. I suppose if we didn't relax and unwind as often as we do we would surely die, either at the hands of the coaches or frustrated teammates.

Afternoon practice was challenging, but also fun (and SHORT COURSE!). We started out with another "Follow the leader" warm up which I enjoyed - as always. Unlike Pat, I think my "aimless swimming" is worth its weight in gold! I wasn't the only one leading this time - there were four other swim leaders (Bryan, Doug, Ben, and Tom) . We select five bravely lead our teammates down lanes, under lane lines, and over diving boards all in the attempt to warm up for what would become a very difficult practice. After some more warming up we dove into our main set fittingly dubbed "Descent to Hell". We divided into groups and Started off with a 150 yard swim on the 2:00 minute. If we made that we would be faced with a 150 on the 1:55, then a 150 on the 1:50, then another on the 1:45 and so and so forth. If we missed the interval (or did make it with at least 5 seconds to spare) we would drop down and swim 125s on the next step down and continue the process of dropping 5 seconds every time. Eventually we would get down to swimming 25s on the 20 seconds (I don't believe anyone got farther than that). At the end we added up our distance along with the distance of our group members. The winning group won - get this - absolutely nothing! That's ok though, the set in itself was a nice enough change of pace to substitute even the biggest trophy.

After a quick set of 75 and 100 yard sprints, we finished the afternoon practice up with some rather exciting relay races involving the same groups from before. Each person was to swim 5 X 50 yard sprints in relay form in the style listed below:
1) Swim down, grab the medicine ball, and swim it back under water (ouch)
2) Kick down, turn, kick back
3) Swim down, open turn, swim back
4) Dive in, flip mid pool, swim back
5) Dive in with your water bottle between your legs and pull breaststroke down and back.
I don't recall what team won, but I do recall that my team did not take last so that is a victory in my book! All in all it was a very fun practice - challenging, yes, but definitely fun!

After some diner and chatting it has become time to once again head off to bed in preparation for the day to come.

- Isaac Rothenbaum



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