Monday, January 28, 2008

The Winter Swimming Training Trip

We have asked four Centennial Conference students to provide us with some insights on life as a top-flight athlete at an elite institution of higher learning. Over the next two months, you will have to opportunity to hear from Franklin & Marshall's Sarah Meisenberg (basketball), Gettysburg's Matt Shank (wrestling), Haverford's Annick Lamar (track and field), and Swarthmore's Anne Miller (swimming). Today, Miller tells you about the infamous "Winter Training Trip" - the only trip to a warm weather climate in January that has you cursing at the clock.

It’s 5:10 AM on January 18th and a cell phone alarm is ringing, wrenching four roommates from their sleep for the ninth and final day of training trip. As they push themselves out of bed they can feel the 14 previous practices in their aching muscles and every now and then there is a groan as one of them has to bend down to pick up a swim bag or a towel off the floor. It is at this time that they all curse training trip, its demanding schedule, and strenuous workouts – both in and out of the water.

Two days later, though, back at school and with a day to sleep in, pictures start appearing on Facebook with happy comments. And as they see each other’s pictures it brings smiles to their faces. Pictures of laughter at the dinner table, tanning on the beach, and walking around San Juan during an afternoon off remind the roommates (and the rest of the team) of the good times.

As one of those cursing at 5:10, I totally understand the question most of us ask: is it worth it? For some the answer came immediately – during the slightly reckless van races back to the hotel for breakfast one of my teammates had a bit of a conversation with himself saying: “Well, what’s the worst that could happen? We could all die in a fiery crash. (a small pause) Eh, it’s all worth it for an omelet.”

We all get the motivation to get through training trip in different ways. For some it’s an omelet. For others it is the tanning. For some it is the beach volleyball. For some it is simply the opportunity to spend 10 days with their friends on the swim team. But certainly none of us question training trip's worth when it comes down to what is important.

We left training trip as a much closer team than we came. We got to know the freshmen much better and we even learned about our classmates and ourselves. Being with a group of 31 people 24/7 for over a week and enduring pain and exhaustion during that time brings you together in unbelievable ways. And it is with that sense of team that we will be swimming our Conference Meet the weekend of February the 22nd. When we do a turn and see our whole team cheering at the end of our lane, we will not be questioning the worth of training trip. When we finish a race faster than we ever have, we will not be questioning the worth of training trip. And when we get points for our team, we will not be questioning the worth of training trip.

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