Monday, February 10, 2014

This Is The Way We Do It: Training Camps

When you live in Denmark, you should prepare to hear one phrase over and over again. At least certain variations of it:

"This is how we do it"

Or maybe

"We've always done it this way"

You'll get this response after you witness something that seems totally uncommon to you but entirely normal to everyone else. My first such exchange coaching here came just two days into my trip, when I saw that pace and sprint lanes were one and the same. And so it goes at most every meet.

This week I'm on training camp, it's own special brand of Danish repetitiveness. School is off in Denmark this week, and so most Danish swim clubs are abroad training away. Why not?

It's generally assumed that a Danish club will go on two training camps a year, possibly three. Not all will be out of the country, but school breaks in October are more likely to be in Denmark and in February mostly out of the country.

If you boil down past the simple explanation, it does make more than a little sense. The Danish National weather service reported 17 hours of sunlight in the entire month of January. One doesn't need to believe the latest studies on season depression to know that can wear down your spirit. Therefore it's quite nice to be down south in Turkey, even if its barely warm enough for outdoor swimming.

That's far from the best part about training camp, Danish style. Every camp I ever went to in the US involved a 20 minute drive to the pool. Lacking the car culture, that solution is untenable here. We simply hotel within walking distance, or in the case of this week, the hotel is AT the pool. It certainly makes for a much better experience.

Of course, the most hilarious characteristic of a Danish swimming camp I have encountered is the familiarity. Here we are, thousands of miles from Denmark, and yet I stand on deck with only Danish teams beside me. We all must have the same travel agent. Actually, we do.

The experience is analogous to Danish grocery shopping. When it comes to picking any particular item, you'll find  no more than a few options (in many cases you are lucky to find two) to choose from. It's a far cry from the walls of endless choice in American stores. Initially you see only the negative in this, but ultimately, what matters is that the choices available are good- not plentiful, but good. That's why they all do it this way.

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