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by Matt Donovan

December 30, 2019

Beat the dog days of winter—take a training trip or a swim vacation

Some of you who are reading this have the luxury of training outside year round; but for those of us who have to walk through an ice storm at 5 a.m. to get to an overcrowded pool before our 9 to 5 in January, here are a few reasons why taking an adult training trip may be just what the doctor ordered to get you back on track in and out of the pool.

The Sun

There’s no question that being in the sun and the energy that you get from all that quality vitamin D will help boost your mood. When you are in a good mood, your motivation to train is better and the other aspects of your life improve as well. That Excel file that has been sitting on your desktop for way too long seems less important during a good swim and less daunting after an outdoor swim practice.

With the sun comes warmer pool water. That initial leap in the pool is a lot easier to take on when you are sweating a bit before warm-up and the water is not 20 degrees under your core body temp.

Freedom to Stretch Out

Now that you don’t have to worry about beating rush hour traffic you can sleep in as long as you want and get to the pool AFTER school is in session. As I write this at 10:30 a.m., I’m looking at an 8-lane pool that has one lap swimmer in it. Most pools are dead during traditional school hours. Your workout is so much more enjoyable when you have a lane to yourself and don’t have to worry about stray elbows and feet.

Meeting New People

Sometimes all you need to get going in a new direction is to meet some new people with different training ideas. Swimmers are the same where ever you go and in my experience, some of the nicest people on the planet. If you get to the pool and see a small group working out, ask if you can join in. Do the set work that they’re doing, even if it’s completely different from anything that you’ve ever done. A fresh outlook on the sport may be exactly what you need. Practice can be much more fun when you don’t have to think about writing your own sets. Just get in the back of the lane and follow the leader.

If you do get the pool and have it to yourself, look around and see if the morning Masters group left behind their set on the white board or a stray paper on a kick board. If so, do their set. Fresh ideas are always the best. If the set has too many repeats of butterfly, change it to freestyle. You’ve earned it—you’re on vacation! Better yet, ask the lifeguard or pool manager when the local Masters club trains each day and join them for a swim. I’ve never heard of a Masters club that didn’t welcome a visiting swimmer with open arms.

After practice, invite your new friends out for coffee. The locals can tell you all the best places to eat and places to see when you are on vacation. Invite them to travel your way and train at your pool one day. Some of the friends I’ve made doing this are some of the dearest to me in my adult life. You can even plan out a time to reconnect with them at a Masters meet down the road. Another fun way to see a different part of the country and great motivation to get back up on the blocks.

Glowing Inside and Out

Never underestimate the positive impact a change in scenery can make on your motivation, in training and in daily life. The sun, the pool, new people, and new experiences can be exactly what the doctor ordered to get your training and life goals back on track. If you ever went on a training trip or travel meet as a club or college swimmer, it was likely one of the best memories of your life. If you don’t want to go on your own, invite some of your teammates and use a training trip to jumpstart your season. The best part is knowing that there is no coach to do bed checks at the hotel and no punishments for showing up late to morning workout.


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