The two-week midseason stretch without competition over the holiday break is an opportunity for swimmers to have one last stretch of strenuous workouts.
It is a time for coaches to work more on an individual basis with their athletes. Once the teams begin competition again after the holiday break, there is just a little more than a month until the state meet.
“It’s a tough time of the year,” said Linn-Mar boys’ coach Tom Belin. “You try and get in as much work as you can, but then you realize it is only a few weeks until your postseason begins.”
Coaches have different philosophies on how to handle the break. But for some coaches, there are outside factors also dictating how workouts are handled.
For Belin, there is the added availability of time at the Coe pool. Without their own facility until next season, the Lions are forced into late-night workouts during the school year.
“We get to have a more normal practice schedule over the break,” Belin said. “It’s nice for the guys to be able to have a little more normal schedule.
At Cedar Rapids Washington, Coach Chris Cruise says practice time is limited due to district rules that mandate certain days can’t be used for practice.
“We don’t get all that much extra time,” Cruise said. “Our first responsibility over the break is to make sure all our kids get to take care of their family commitments.”
Both coaches agree that, with the shortened overall swim season, the time can be very important for swimmers who are working their way into proper condition for the postseason.
“We do have a little more flexibility over the break,” Cruise said. “We can take a swimmer and work on their techniques and their endurance, but it is a balancing act. You have to know the limits of each individual.”
Belin has some special team events planned for the Lions in an effort to keep the workouts fresh and keep the swimmers motivated.
“Those events will allow us to get some film on the kids so they can look at their stroke and how it is progressing,” he said. “It is a great opportunity to fine-tune some things.”
Cruise adds that some of his swimmers will go and put in extra training sessions with their club teams.
“Some of the more advanced swimmers don’t want to lose what they have already built up so they will keep working through their clubs,” he said. “For them, it is so much about conditioning.”
Concludes Belin: “It is a time where a swimmer can really build and get ready for the last month of the season. The important meets, conference, district, state, aren’t that far off. It will be here faster than the kids realize so they have to keep pushing.”