The National Junior Team Camp is being held April 4-7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Complex in Colorado Springs. National Junior Team coaches and athletes have volunteered to blog from the camp to give you an idea of what this weekend’s all about. Here's a look at day 1:
From Swimmer Gunnar Bentz:
Yesterday the National Junior Team arrived in Colorado Springs for the National Junior Team Camp. I have already been here for a week training with my club team, so I am used to the altitude for the most part. Once everyone arrived here, we went into a meeting to get settled in and meet the coaches. Once the meeting was over, we went to our first practice. It was pretty hard, but for the most part was aimed at getting us used to the altitude, type of training we would be doing etc. After practice, we went to eat at the cafeteria. The food here is great, and everyone ate until they felt 10 pounds fatter. Next was another meeting where we were introduced to Aaron Piersol, Katie Hoff and Brendan Hansen. We watched a few videos showing some of their greatest swimming moments. At that point, it was past lights out so we hurried back to the dorms and went straight to bed to rest up for the next day of hard training.
From Swimmer Leah Smith:
7AM- I leave Pittsburgh! Had to wake up very early, but it was worth it to see my favorite people from the NJT.
10AM - Arrived in Dallas Forth Worth for my connection to CO Springs. I met up with some of my teammates from Junior Pan Pacs and saw some new faces as well.
1:30 - After getting off the plane, we board the bus to the OTC and meet up with our teammates already there. Everyone was excited to see their friends from all over the country.
3:00 - After a having a quick meal and settling in, we decided to soak up the sun outside by our dorms. As east coasters, Olivia Smoliga, Rachel Zilinskas, Jack Conger, Kyle Darmody and I tried to catch up to the California people's tans. It didn't work.
4PM - We left for a team meeting right after meeting Brendan Hansen and Katie Hoff and saying hi to our mentor from Junior Pan Pacs, Aaron Piersol. It was so cool to be able to talk to our role models.
4:30 - The team was introduced to the staff and National team athletes, and we reviewed the honor code.
5-7:15 - We had our first practice as a team. It's always an honor to rep the American flag on our caps.
7:30 - Dinner with the team in the Cafeteria.
8:30 - Team meeting. We watched inspiring videos of Katie, Brendan, and Aaron and some relays. Frank Busch gave a great talk about performance at meet and the mental side of swimming. We learned that statistically, 7% of the NJT will make the Olympics. We hope to make that percentage higher!!
After a long day, we went back to the dorms to get some sleep. It was a great first day of camp!
From Team Captain Kyle Darmody:
I have been waiting for this camp to come for weeks. As we sat in the first team meeting, I got the feeling that I was with an awesome group of swimmers. The first practice was filled with excitement, as it was our first opportunity to train together as a team. We all knew how altitude could affect our training, but we turned a blind eye to that and jumped right in. Practice was followed up with a well-deserved meal at the cafeteria. We finished up the day with another team meeting, where Frank Busch gave a great talk about not letting one race ruin a whole meet. I'm looking forward to the rest of the camp, day 1 was a great start to it. Go USA!
From Coach Tim O’Brien:
Day 1 at camp started with a coaches’ meeting at USA Swimming headquarters. National Junior Team Director Jack Roach set the tone and standards for the camp, staff and athletes. Then National Team athletes Katie Hoff, Brendan Hansen and Aaron Peirsol shared stories that educated and inspired the staff as we prepared for the athletes’ arrival.
The athletes all arrived on the OTC campus in the early afternoon and got their NJT gear and suits etc., checked into their rooms and ate lunch at the amazing dining hall on the campus (all-you-can-eat, which makes swimmers very happy). Last item on the afternoon agenda was an introductory meeting where Jack introduced the staff and National Team athletes and the swimmers were placed in training groups.
Next up was our first practice, and it was combined men and women. The effort and spirit was awesome as the athletes got familiar with the staff and their teammates. The transition from over 60 athletes to one TEAM USA was swift and Aaron, Brendan and Katie led the team in an awesome U-S-A cheer to end practice!
After practice and dinner, the athletes then had a final meeting of the day headed by National Team Director Frank Busch. Frank gave an inspiring talk centered on not allowing early meet performance affect an entire competition and related Michael Phelps’s 2012 Olympics as an example of how to keep fighting and never giving up. This message really struck a chord with the athletes. Jack then spoke about all the speakers planned for the camp and ended with great video highlights of amazing races by the National Team athletes that really got all pumped for an amazing day No. 2
The last thing I wanted to mention was that the USA Swimming staff has done an amazing amount of work to prepare for this Training Camp and give the athletes the best possible experience in and out of the pool. These athletes will be better for it as well, as they take this info back to their home clubs to help enhance their team as well. Looking forward to a great day No. 2
Go Team USA!!!