The swimming and diving team is working hard while enjoying the warm, sunny weather in Puerto Rico.
Jan. 6, 2009
Puerto Rico - The Illinois swimming and diving team is on their annual training trip in a new location of Puerto Rico. The team fills their month-long hiatus from meets by taking an extended trip to a warm location in order to train hard and prepare for the second-half of their season. Head coach Sue Novitsky and various swimmers have composed daily journals to give fans an inside look into the action.
Sunday - 12/28/09: Head Coach Sue Novitsky
It is 2:00AM and the team is loading onto the bus in the Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building parking lot. The wind is blowing at about 40 mph and it feels like -20o outside. As I count off the bodies piling onto the bus all I can think of is the 80o weather and great swimming & diving waiting for us down in Puerto Rico. We head over to Indianapolis for our flight to San Juan. The team is excited to see each other as they talk about their time at home, presents and how they ended up in their classes. We finally arrive in Puerto Rico at 2:40PM Atlantic Standard Time and the sunshine does not disappoint us.
We make it over to the Condado Plaza Resort and check in for our stay. The hotel is fabulous; the décor, pools and beach will make for a great visit. After a dinner and team meeting we head to our rooms. It has been a long day. I have been up for over 24 hours.
Thursday - 1/1/09: Marissa Clapp
Today was our first day training in Central Parque Natatorium. It was so nice to swim outside where the sun was shining, and to get a break from the midwest winter. However, there were a few minor adjustments for our team - the pool is twice as long (50 meters vs. 25 yards), and a few degrees chillier than our ARC pool! The long morning swim got us warmed up for the days to come. We returned from the pool to our Waikiki restaurant where we will be eating all of our meals. They prepared a whole buffet complete with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and fresh fruit! After breakfast a majority of the girls headed out to the beach/pool at our beautiful resort. Wildlife was discovered on the rocks at the beach...lizards and crabs! Napping is key to maintaining our practice performance, so many of us took afternoon naps. At 3:30 p.m. we were off to our second practice of the day, which included a lot of threshold and fast swimming. By the end of practice we were exhausted and hungry. Good thing the chicken dinner was all ready when we returned. In the evening we are free to explore the hotel and all it has to offer...i.e. ice cream parlor, hot tubs, and casino. Some daring swimmers tried their luck with black jack while others enjoyed a safe game of euchre. Then it was off to bed early, for the morning weight workout would come very quickly!
Thursday - 1/1/09: Head Coach Sue Novitsky
Our practice schedule is 8-10AM and 4-6PM with additional times for weights and dry land work. We head out for the pool at 7:30AM. The Natatorium is located in Central Parqué and it is outstanding. There is a 10 lane 50 meter pool and a diving well that is 25 meters X 25 meters with all the boards and platforms. The pool is covered, but there are no walls so you get fresh air and some protection from the elements.
For the first practice we get the swimmers used to the long course pool and work out all of the travel from the day before. They can sense that the intensity will be increased dramatically for the evening practice. Steve and I do not disappoint them and in turn we had some great work put in by the athletes. CeCe Marizu pushed a lifetime best time in practice, not a bad start to the trip.
In addition to practice we have an intra-team competition going on while we are down here. I broke the team into 3 teams of 10 athletes. The first challenge was for them to come up with their team names. Here is what they came up with:
1. PR Fierce - as in Puerto Rico Fierce
2. Shark Bait...Ooh Ha Ha
3. Coquí - the means little frog, this is also the sound that it makes ko-kee
Friday - 1/2/09: Head Coach Sue Novitsky
The team continues to train hard. Today they were in the weight room before our morning swim practice. Unfortunately, I kept my streak alive for visiting hospitals or medical clinics on our semester trip. It was an all day affair for an eye problem, but the swimmer is going to be fine and back in the water in a day or two. I did get to watch some Spanish TV and found that soap operas are pretty much the same in English or in Spanish.
The next challenge was to take a picture of a brown pelican. Coach Steve is a bird fanatic and he pointed one out on our way to the pool the first day of practice as our bird of the day. Well, none of the teams were successful, so I had to go to the back-up plan - tell me the location of the parrot that is painted on the wall in the resort. Coquí won the challenge and took the early lead.
Saturday - 1/3/09: Head Coach Sue Novitsky
It was a grey day in Puerto Rico today, not that I expect any sympathy. We still cranked it out at the pool for both sessions. In the afternoon we headed over early for our dry land circuit. The pool has a great seating section with lots of stairs, perfect for a warm-up. After we warmed it up running the stairs the team knocked out stations of push-ups, tempo tubing, shoulders, jump rope, core work and legs. The pool felt pretty good after getting all sweaty.
In between practices the team worked on their challenge for the day - a scavenger hunt. Each team had to take 11 pictures with a different team member in each picture. Here are the categories:
1. Picture with a hotel bell hop
2. Best imitation of a Sports Illustrated swim suit model
3. Coach Sue impersonation
4. Wear swim cap & goggles at the hotel pool with the cap pulled down over eyes & nose
5. Picture with the Notre Dame men's head coach (he said it was ok!)
6. Picture with someone wearing orange that was not in our travel party
7. Best muscle beach impersonation
8. Subtle picture with the person wearing the most awful swim suit at the beach or pool
9. Picture "driving the bus"
10. Crocodile hunter imitation - an animal had to be in the picture too
11. Wacky team picture
So between practices the teams were all over the resort snapping pictures. They were laughing and having a good time working together on a sometimes rainy day. After dinner the sophomores and juniors ran the team through a team activity that they had designed. While the team was busy with their other activity the judges (Me, Coach Steve, Coach Chris, Coach Ryan, and our trainers Gina, Denise and Brittany) were scoring the pictures. There were a lot of great and funny pictures, some scary ones too! PR Fierce won by .5 points over Shark Bait...Ooh Ha Ha. The team score is now all tied up!
Monday - 1/5/09: Marissa Clapp
Today was MEET day! We were all very excited to be able to sleep in, which means waking up at 8 instead of 6:30! Breakfast at Waikiki was very delicious (eggs, bacon, sausage, and French toast sticks), and then it was off to the pool. We completed our second weightlifting workout of the trip...squats were a little challenging today. After lifting we got in to warm up for our meet against Southern Illinois and La Salle. Even though we knew this meet was not going to be scored or counted on our record, we brought a competitive fire to the cold Nat pool. The event list was very short and out of the ordinary...400, 200, and 100 free, 200 IM, 50's of each stroke, and a 200 free relay. With Illinois winning a good majority of the races, it is safe to say we would have won had it been scored. Since Southern and La Salle both had men's teams competing, we adopted Notre Dame as our pseudo men's team for the day. Later, we met them at the beach and enjoyed a day of body surfing, sand burying, and picture taking. The waves at the La Concha beach were massive compared to our "la playa pequena" at the Condado Plaza. In the evening, the seniors got dressed up and went out for a special dinner, which is a team tradition. Ali, Kate, and I took a taxi to the old San Juan area and ate at the Hard Rock Café. Afterward we walked around a bit and bargained with the vendors for purses, wallets, and watches. Then we headed back to the hotel with our purchases. To end the night, the team all met in one room for some good ole' team bonding!
The Illini will travel to Bloomington, Ind. for a meet against Tennessee and Big Ten foes Indiana and Michigan on Jan. 9.