During winter break, about half of the men and women’s swimming and diving teams traveled 1,500 miles to Naples, Florida for two tough weeks of training, as well as a meet against Connecticut College. The team left Grinnell on a bus on January 2 and returned on the afternoon of January 15, when they were joined by the rest of the team for a week of practice before the Pioneer Invite.
While in Florida, the team enjoyed the beautiful weather, but rest and relaxation were not on the itinerary. Coach Erin Hurley had the team up bright and early for 7 a.m. practice, which swimmers described as being nothing short of intense. In the afternoon, the swimmers returned to the pool for dryland exercises, running and another practice.
“The practices were challenging and consisted of a lot more yards than a typical practice we would do at Grinnell,” said Danielle Phillips ’15.
The divers also had tough practices, but many of them, including Milton Garcia ’14, benefited by learning quite a few new dives.
The meet against Connecticut College proved to be a challenge as both the men and women came out defeated.
“Connecticut College is a very fast team that competes in a conference that is just on a different level than the Midwest Conference. However, we held our own and had some great swims and close races,” Phillips said. “It was exciting to swim against such fast competitors. Overall, it was a good experience for the team that really pushed us to come together and rise to a challenge.”
“Everyone swam really well, especially considering how tired we all are from the training,” added Michael Brus ’14.
Keeping with the usual team atmosphere of positivity and having fun, the divers made a song to the tune of “little bunny foo foo hopping through the forest” after fellow diver Xiaoxi Yang ’14 stepped on a bee on the pool deck.
While the primary focus of the trip was training, the team had the opportunity to meet with alumni and trustees at a luncheon.
“That [lunch] is probably one of the highlights of the trip because we get to connect with some alumni and get to eat really good food,” Brus said.
The team also did some community service at a nature reserve where they helped to remove invasive species from the forest. The swimmers enjoyed a beach day, which was a highlight of the trip for many.
The team has a busy few weeks ahead of them. On Friday, February 1 they will be hosting a meet against UNL Swim Club. The following day, Saturday, February 2, they will be hosting a meet against Coe College. The season will be winding down quickly as the team prepares to host the Midwest Conference Championships beginning on Friday, February 15 and continuing through Sunday afternoon.