Alaska swimming elevation training: Blog No. 2

rp_primary_swimming_blog Day 2

Jamie Foland

The Alaska swim team trekked down to Flagstaff, Arizona, for its annual elevation training trip. This trip will prove to be vital for the success of the Nanooks later this season heading into the PCSC and NCAA Championship meets. The swimmers will provide blog updates every couple days from the Grand Canyon State.

The training trip will last from Dec. 28 until Jan. 12 when the Nanooks will fly to Vancouver to compete in a tri-meet against Simon Fraser and University of Puget Sound in Burnaby, B.C.

Today, in the second edition of the team’s blog, senior Meghan O’Leary (Seward, Alaska/Biology) talks about the first three days of the training from the Douglas A. Wall Aquatic Center at Northern Arizona University. Here is her account of the team’s training thus far:

“Altitude is a factor that really affects our training. Why? Here is a fun fact as an answer: It’s a common misconception that there is less oxygen at higher altitudes, there is actually the same percentage of oxygen at higher and lower elevations. What makes exercise harder is the decreased weight of the above atmosphere on the oxygen that we breathe, this pressure is what drives the gas exchange in our lungs, so with this decreased pressure of oxygen, we don’t utilize as much of it per breath as we would at sea level. Add to the fact that swimming already demands breath control; we really feel it.

Three days into the training trip and we are all sore, it’s amazing how an extra 7,000 feet can affect us. Everything we do is more anaerobic than anything we can do in Fairbanks. What were once easy and simple 100s, 200s and 500s are not anymore up here. Flip turns burn the lungs, our arms tire quickly and our shoulders ache.

Recovering from our workouts takes longer up here and we sleep when we can. However after waking, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.  My muscles protest most movement, until I get moving; I imagine this is what being old feels like. But I personally like feeling sore — Zing as Coach Scott calls it, it’s the feeling of progress and promise of achievement.”

You can also follow along with the Nanook swimmers on Facebook and Twitter!