The term “Christmas break” might be a little foreign to Blue Springs swimmer Ibby Simcox.

The term “Christmas break” might be a little foreign to Blue Springs swimmer Ibby Simcox.

For that matter, the concept might be lost on the majority of area swimmers. A break that – for most high schoolers – signals a breather from school and a week to relax on the couch and enjoy some holiday sweets is possibly the toughest week of the season, according to Simcox.

On Tuesday, Simcox and her teammates hit the pool at 6 a.m. just like they do most days during the holiday hiatus for a four-hour practice session. At 1 p.m., the squad competed in a triangular meet at the Blue Springs YMCA. The Wildcats clipped Notre Dame de Sion 183.5-127.5 and upended Blue Springs South 214-96. The Jaguars also fell to the Storm 190-108.

Despite an annual practice slate that has become a Wildcat holiday tradition, Simcox tallied two first-place and personal-best times in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 16.71 seconds) and 100 backstroke (1:04.42).

“Christmas training is our hardest training of the whole  year,” Simcox said. “We come in every morning and hit it pretty hard, so it’s pretty cool that we can come here and still get best times even though we’re tired. It shows you when you’re rested what we’re really going to be able to do.”

The routine is similar for South. The Jaguars receive days off on Christmas Eve and Day and on New Year’s Eve and Day. The rest of the break features 6 a.m. practices that last up to three and a half hours. The Jags spend plenty of time in the water and also mix in some dryland and weight training. Last Friday, South sophomore Bailey Barnett, said the squad racked up about 10,000 yards in the pool.

“I’m tired and want to stay in bed like everyone else is,” said Barnett, who registered a sixth-place finish in the 200 IM and a seventh-place time in the 100 butterfly. “But at the same time, we know state and conference are coming up soon and we want to do as good as we can. That’s motivation to push in the morning.”

The Jags received first-place efforts from Emily Zweerink in the 50 freestyle (26.62) and Morgan Connors in the 500 freestyle (5:37.27). Bre Schlenger also came in first in diving with 237.25 points.

Ashley Sturman added two top times for the Cats in the 200 freestyle (2:02.59) and 100 butterfly (1:01.98). Alyssa Aubuchon (100 freestyle, 57.45) and Corinne Rinne (100 breaststroke) also added victories.

Blue Springs co-coach Bill Shalley said his focus over the holidays is all about teaching his squad what its true limit is.

“The bottom line is, the human body can do anything we set it up to do,” Shalley said. “They’re set up to do a lot more, they’ve just got to learn to push themselves at the right time and the right way. They’re figuring out where those buttons are.”

The aim is similar for the Jags, although South coach Errich Oberlander said it’s a little challenging with his numbers sometimes fluctuating with a handful of girls out of town on vacation. But he added that those in attendance quickly reap the rewards for sacrificing a hefty portion of their break.

“You can tell which girls were here and focused in a couple weeks,” Oberlander said, “because they’re the ones that are going to show some good time drops during the season.”