As if the rigors of being a college student weren’t enough, some Tigers add hours in the pool and a few miles of swimming to the daily docket.
Such is life for members of LSU’s swimming teams, whose women’s squad opens Southeastern Conference competition today at Vanderbilt with the men’s squad starting conference competition Oct. 20 at Auburn.
LSU sophomore swimmer Frank Greeff walked The Reveille through a typical Monday, one day out of many that led up to the eventual culmination of the aquatics squads’ season – SEC and NCAA championships, in February and March, respectively.
As is routine, the alarm clock signals the start of another day.
“The least favorite part of my day is getting awake in the mornings,” Greeff said. “Getting out of your bed and jumping in the pool is hard, especially when it becomes winter because it’s so cold.”
Greeff, a native of Uitenhage, South Africa, said getting each day off to a good start hinges on the preparation from the day before.
“Knowing what’s coming and knowing you’re in a competitive environment makes you want to be at your best every morning,” Greeff said. “The better you plan things and the earlier you get to bed the easier the next day will be for you.”
Greeff and his teammates arrive at the weight room, where they train for an hour before heading to the LSU Natatorium for an hour of swimming.
“In the mornings, we swim about 4-and-a-half to 6,000 yards,” Greeff said. “The further we get into the season the more it gets.”
Four-and-a-half thousand yards equates to more than 2.5 miles — roughly 80 lengths of a 50-meter, Olympic sized pool – all before many students roll out of bed for 8:30 a.m. classes.
After two hours of workouts, Greeff said he usually heads home to get ready for class and eat something before setting off on the rest of his day.
“Basically, we just try to keep a balanced diet, getting enough stuff to have energy for sessions because we have such a big day ahead,” Greeff said. “You want to eat stuff that keeps producing energy in your body all day.”
Greeff said he and his teammates are given outlines about what to eat and what to avoid, but a swimmer’s diet isn’t necessarily a make-or-break aspect of his or her success in the pool.
“Seeing as our bodies burn so many calories during a [training] session, it’s not that big of a deal, but you want to be eating healthy food, staying away from oily foods, take-aways and things like that,” Greeff said.
Greeff is off to his first class of the day, having already been awake for more than four hours. Two classes later, Greeff has an hour to rest and get something to eat before another class starts at 12:30 p.m.
While an hour may not seem like enough time to accomplish much of anything, LSU swim coach Dave Geyer said the short breaks play a big part in the productivity of each day.
“Our fitness level gets to such a point, as well, where there’s a certain amount of rest they can function on pretty well on a day in and day out basis,” Geyer said. “They’re smart enough as athletes to figure out that even just a five-minute nap can help get them through the rest of the day.”
Greeff returns to the LSU Natatorium for two more hours during a part of the day many students are making their way back home.
“To be active for so long and do so many things for so many hours then come back for another two hours, you have to be mentally tough in what you’re doing,” Greeff said. “It has to be something you love doing and something you want to be doing.”
“Back to the books,” Greeff said.
After logging miles in the pool and hours in the classroom, Greeff heads home to work on homework with the goal of getting everything done so he can get to bed as early as possible.
“You have to plan everything,” Greeff said. “Leaving things to the last minute is going to drag you behind. So much more is expected from you and that’s the fun part about it – showing you can do two things at once.”