Julia Wilkinson's job is not your typical nine-to-five. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Fourteen workouts in six days.
It's no wonder that, when you're training for the Olympics, swimming is your "job." Not because it isn't fun, but because it takes up your entire life.
I remember when I was about 12 years old, you could buy t-shirts at swim meets that said "Life is Simple: Eat, Sleep, Swim." I didn't think that, someday, that would actually be the case. But when I really stop and think about it, although it is tough physical work day in and day out, I really am living the dream. Let's face it: nine-to-five jobs that allow you to take a nap midday (every day) just don't exist. Except for mine.
Right now, I'm in a very heavy block of training. We're in the water 10 times every week, plus four workouts in the weight room. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we swim from 7-9 a.m., followed by a weight workout from 9:30-10:30, and then back to the pool at 2:30 p.m. On Saturdays, we swim from 8-10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m.
Unlike most of the other swim programs in Canada, we're given two days off per week: Wednesday and Sunday. However, in exchange for a sleep-in on Wednesday, we have the unique "privilege" of swimming twice on Saturday.
This was something that took a bit of getting used to. When I was in college, we knew that we were done for the weekend after Saturday morning practice. This meant: go home, eat a huge breakfast (I once ate almost an entire box of Lucky Charms by myself) and then take a long nap without having to set an alarm.
Ah, those were the glory days. Now, Saturday is just like any other day at the pool - it might as well be a Monday. But that means that Wednesdays are like Sundays. Because I never get consecutive days off, my life consists entirely of "Sundays" and "Mondays." In fact, this year I accidentally changed all my clocks the Wednesday before daylight savings because, for about four hours, I was positive that it was Sunday.Injury produces unexpected benefit
Although it was exhausting, I accomplished a lot last week in the pool, reaching new levels in sets and finally being able to tweak certain technical aspects, like my breakout in the backstroke.
After having shoulder surgery in late 2008 and being relegated to just kicking for the first half of the 2008-2009 season, I developed a new strength: my underwater kicking, especially in the backstroke. However, the key to holding on to this speed as long as possible is by having a flawless transition from kicking to swimming. And although it is just tiny details that need to be changed, sometimes the little changes are the hardest ones to make.
I felt especially motivated coming into this week, for two reasons: I knew it was going to be hard, and I had just spent two days racing in Vancouver the weekend before. I swam two days at the Mel Zajac Canada Cup
held at UBC. Although it was not a meet of huge importance for me - I wasn't rested nor did I swim my best events - it still gave me a taste of what is coming this summer. I love to race, and racing reminds me why I train so hard. Even if I'm racing the 100-metre butterfly rather than the 100-metre backstroke, I'll always have that desire to get my hand on the wall first.
I did win two of my events: the 200 freestyle on the first night, and the 50 backstroke on the second. My times were fairly good for this time of the season, but I am looking forward to swimming much faster at the rest of my meets this summer. In mid-June I'll be travelling to California for the Santa Clara Grand Prix, then to Montreal for another Canada Cup meet. After that, it's time for the big show: the world championships in Shanghai.
I have just over a week left here in Victoria. The weather has started to get nice, and when the sun shines on Vancouver Island, it definitely makes you forgive Mother Nature for all the rain during the months of March and April (well, who am I kidding, all the months).
This week will be a lot like the last: Eat. Sleep. Swim. That and watching the Canucks bring home the Cup, of course.
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