Sports

Daily grind: The life of a swimmer

Feb 01, 2017 Dylan Wooley-Berry

The alarm sounds, and I swipe my phone screen to turn it off. The clock on the screen reads 6 a.m. It’s Monday – if it were Tuesday or Friday, I would be waking up at 6:30.

I roll out of my bed, get dressed and grab something light to eat, usually a piece of toast or some yogurt and granola. I then put on my winter coat and boots and grab my book bag that was packed the night before. I leave the warmth of my apartment for the cold outdoors.

It’s 6:20 by the time I get to the Athletic Centre, and 6:25 by the time I have changed into my bathing suit and walk out onto the pool deck. I see my coach writing the morning’s practice on the board and as swimmers walk out onto the pool deck, they grab flutter boards and pull buoys before hopping into the 15-degree water.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, dryland training begins at 7 a.m. Everyone helps set up stations for the dryland endurance circuits that the team will run on those mornings. The circuits include the use of battle ropes, core training and medicine ball exercises. Following the circuit, the team heads to the gym in the Athletic Centre for about half an hour of weight training.

After morning practice ends at 8:10, I shower to get the smell of sweat and chlorine off my body before class. Then, the swimmers living in residence head over to meal hall for a quick breakfast. Swimmers like me, who live off campus, usually have their breakfast on campus and get a jump on their school work for the day.

Some swimmers have class at 8:30, so they scarf down the breakfast they brought with them in our coach’s office before they go. On days when they do not have an 8:30 class, they are able to go home and take a nap before they head back to campus for the day.

During the day, swimmers attend classes and labs like normal students; unlike most students, however, by the time a swimmer gets to class they have already been up for two to three hours. Some of the upper years on the varsity swim team use the time they have in between classes to conduct honours research and work on independent studies.

I  prefer to go grocery shopping and cook meals. I always make enough food for three or four meals and save the leftovers, so I don’t have to cook after practice. Ask any varsity athlete and they will tell you that cooking supper when you are hungry after a long workout sucks. On a calm day, the period in between morning and night practice can be used to relax and hang out with friends – this could include having lunch.

Evening practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays is from 4:30 to 6:30. On these days, swimmers are expected to stay after practice and do 30 minutes of core exercises. Evening practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays is from 5:15 to 6:45.

After practice, I go home to eat supper, then go to the library. The odd evening is spent in a group meeting for a project, or listening to a guest speaker I am required to attend for a class. After dinner, I do homework until bedtime.

The alarm on my phone sounds, I swipe my phone screen to turn it off. It’s Tuesday, 6:30 a.m.

With files from Maddy Henry, James Kwan and Allison Loewen.