Saturday, January 28, 2012

Go the Distance!

My daughter is in Colorado Springs for four days, at the US Olympic Training Center, for "Distance Camp." This is a couple dozen kids from all over Pacific Swimming (Northern California and Nevada) who "like" the distance events (that may be too strong a word) and do well in those events. The sprinters do the 500 free, and the specialties move up to the 1000, 1650 and 5K/10K, with the 400 IM thrown in just for fun.

The workload is completely insane, with four different coaches supervising. Each workout the
coaches get into a virtual muscle-flexing contest (HA -- as though coaches still have muscles!), trying to make the workouts even more challenging than the last one. And at 6,000 feet elevation, that puts some serious hurt on the swimmers. The picture at right is of swimmers leaving the pool after their last workout.

The kids stay in the USOTC dorms, eat at the fabulous cafeteria (where the cooks are no doubt selected for their ability to remain calm as they read recipes that begin "take 24 dozen eggs . . ."), and mingle with the amazing athletes there from all over the country who are using the facility's other venues. There are fencers, triathletes, gymnasts, weightlifters, pentathletes, shooters, wrestlers, track and field, and various paralympians milling around, some in residence there. I'm sure there are some pretty ferocious card games at night.

My child-free four days was almost the complete opposite of what she's doing right now, except for the eating in bulk. I swam for half an hour (I did, however, look really good), had three beers consecutively last night, and kept it smooth but steady as I transferred clothes from the washer to the dryer. I've had months of training like she's doing, and I'm a little over it now. I appreciate the importance of the work, and I remember how proud I felt each day, but I have lost some of that need to do more, more, more. About 90 percent of the need.

I feel the same way about basketball, and I know how that happened. I spent five years as a high school Athletic Director. I hired the coaches, processed eligibility, collected forms and fees, ordered and inventoried all the uniforms, organized the meetings and banquets, and went to a jillion meetings where every person there was wearing brightly colored warmups, as though we could still rip off our jackets at any moment and throw down a monster dunk at the buzzer.

One of my jobs was working the gate at basketball games. At first it was fun; the action was fast paced and the crowd and loud buzzer made it seem almost professional. But after a few hundred games -- boys and girls -- it all became a blur. Too much, way too much. Can't watch another game ever. And that's too bad because the high school kids were basically good. It's not like the NBA, where the rosters are filled with folks that have methodically checked off all the categories of felonies on their bucket lists. I wouldn't go to an NBA game if you could peel off center court tickets on the back of my Cheerios box.

But I digress. So I'm glad my daughter is training hard, and loving to train hard. She's had a well-planned career (ouch! my hand got a cramp patting myself on the back) that's left her enjoying the sport and continuing to improve. She'll look back on those days in Colorado Springs one day and say -- what the hell was I thinking? -- but she'll be proud, as I am of her.