The inaugural Team Camp Arizona 2019 is now headed into our rear-view mirrors but certainly won't be long forgotten.
For the first time in Club history, the Cochrane Comets sent 10 of their top athletes to a Training Camp in sunny Arizona for a week, to embark on a multi-layered learning opportunity. Every athlete who touched down at YYC to arrive home this past Sunday knew their lives would be forever changed, and life-long friendships had been forever formed.
Athletes aged 12-17 headed to Arizona to tackle some intense water training at Arizona State University in an outdoor, 25 yd pool. 14 hours of training in total meant a goal of 40,000 yds with an immense amount of planning and preparation in our home pool before even considering embracing a challenge this big. For three and a half days in the water these dedicated athletes tackled morning and afternoon sessions with a minimum of 4500 yds and a maximum 7000 yds PER session. A very big first for all of them.
So many unknown factors meant we had to plan for the worst, and hope for the best. How would each athlete manage the physical training, not to mention the mental training? Who would be the first to break down? How would the group handle living together for 5 days? When (not if), would conflict erupt? Different beds, a warm climate, swimming outside in the sun, the food, seeing their coach in her pajamas LOL. How would these athletes manage all of this and still be able to execute their swim sessions well?
After almost every session, including the biggest session of a 13,300 yard day, it was clear the laughter and smiles during the warm-down set meant they could carry on. They could handle more. And they were doing it together, as a team.
Real, honest conversations began to surface. The van ride to and from the pool which have now been coined "Tea-Spilling Sessions", began to reveal some deeply-rooted heart-breaking, and heart-expanding moments. The quietest of athletes began to feel safe enough to share their hearts with their team mates. Our athletes were bursting into song on impulse, and tearing down walls and barriers with each other many of them didn't even know were there.
Every athlete and team member on this first adventure will have their own perspectives of the fond memories and experiences they all shared. Each experience creating deep connection, and powerful moments of learning about what all of them are truly capable of. This proud coach has a full heart and even more love for these young people than she thought possible.
A very successful pilot project introduced into our Empowerment Programming will now become permanent, and will pave the way to expand even more off-site travel opportunities for other competitive squads. "Huge success" is an understatement.
We never forget our firsts.