Splash - March/April 2013 - (Page 6)

STARTING BLOCKS MIKE GUSTAFSON PERKS OF COLLEGE SWIMMING I f age group swimming is Kansas, NCAA swimming is The Land of Oz. It’s completely different – in a good way. The atmosphere is like going from black-and-white to full Technicolor. (Though your college swim coach isn’t likely to attempt to kill your dog. I hope.) If anyone has the opportunity to swim in college, go for it. Sure, there’s that “Push-yourself-to-the-limits-because-it’s-the-ultimaterewarding-experience-while-making-best-friends-forever” thing. But there are also perks of being a college swimmer many people DON’T tell you. Here are a few of those perks: SWIM SCHWAG. You broke your goggles. Normally, you’d have to go to a local swimming store to purchase new ones. Not in college. Depending where you swim, there’s likely a dark storage closet containing a gigantic plastic bag full of free goggles. Not only that, but depending on where you go, you’ll get free shirts, shorts, shoes, caps, bags and all sorts of other sports-related stuff. (Though not all teams have budgets to afford this.) I have about 20 collegiate swimming T-shirts in my drawer, which I still wear with pride. YOU CAN WALk TO THE POOL. Swimmers generally aren’t good at coordinated activities, like “walking.” But in college, you’ll likely live next door to the pool, or within walking distance. For some swimmers, this is a terrifying realization (since if you skip practice, your swim coach can hunt you down and find you). But if you love swimming, there’s no better experience than a short walk to practice on a warm, sunny morning. If your usual age-group 25-minute drive to the pool is now a 5-minute walk, and you usually train doubles, that’s saving you over three hours of driving time every week. Three hours you can spend gorging down in those next-door unlimited cafeterias. TRAINING TRIPS. Many college swim teams located in northern regions endure subzero, bone-chilling, hair-freezing Decembers and Januaries. No one wants to train in 0-degree apocalyptic white-out blizzard conditions. So, many college swim teams embark on training trips. They travel to Florida. Or California. Or Hawaii. Sound nice? When I was at 6 SPLASH • March/April 2013 MATT LUPTON UNLIMITED BUFFETS. Scenario: You exit the pool. You’re famished. You’re like a zombie searching for food. All thoughts cease to exist except, “Foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodbaconbaconbacon...” Then you see it, like a mirage in the desert, beckoning you: a cafeteria. And this cafeteria has massive, unlimited quantities of food. And it’s directly next to the pool. And it’s all for you. Welcome to college, where many cafeterias are unlimited buffet-style temples of happiness. Let the two-hour, multi-plate, non-stop feeding begin. Northwestern, we traveled to Argentina for over two weeks. The beaches were beautiful, the people were friendly, and we ate at a local restaurant called “Homero’s” that served 30-cent burgers and featured a cartoon Homer Simpson on the front. These are unforgettable experiences. Sure, the actual training part was (very) hard, but I’ll train as hard as possible if it means I can go to Argentina or Hawaii with teammates while the rest of my friends are back home. “What did you do over winter break?” they’ll ask. “I went to Argentina and had the best experience of my life,” you’ll respond. RIVALRIES. When you’re an age group swimmer, sure, you have rivalries with other club teams, but mostly, these are other swimmers you know from the region and you are likely friends with. When you swim in college, you have rivalries. Ohio State vs. Michigan. Cal vs. Stanford. Army vs. Navy. Decade-old rivalries that date generations back and will continue long after you’ve graduated. These rivalries matter. These rivalries get you out of bed at 5 a.m. These rivalries push you when you think your body can’t keep going. When you retire from swimming, you’ll attend college swim team reunions or alumni meets and talk with older swimmers who graduated forty years before you did. They will ask you, “So, did you ever beat Auburn?” And your answer in that moment – when you remember all those hard practices, unlimited buffets, best friends, training trips, early morning walks to the pool, and those epic, down-to-thewire relay anchors against your team’s fiercest rival – is what college swimming is all about.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Splash - March/April 2013

Splash - March/April 2013
Table of Contents
Mike Gustafson
Swim Briefs/Justin Case
Top Ten Tweets/Point-Counterpoint
Strength & Conditioning
Mental Tips
Training With
Keys to Success
Your Photo
Athletic Foodie
Book Reviews
NCAA Championships Preview
Hanging With Schmitty
The Perfect Fit
2012 Top Ten Lists - LCM
Swim Nut Zeke
Best Race Ever
Getting To Know
America’s Swim Team Athletes

Splash - March/April 2013