Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
SARASOTA, Florida — It’s a week of fun in the sun for the University of Iowa swimming and diving team as the Hawkeyes are in the Sunshine State for their team training trip.
The Hawkeyes are in Florida for the third time in four seasons. Iowa departed for Sarasota on Dec. 16 and the team returns to the Midwest on Dec. 22.
“This is a point in the season for us to refocus,” said Thomas Rathbun, a senior freestyle and backstroker. “In the NCAA, we have the longest season of any sport, going from August to March, so training can become monotonous. To be able to go through finals week and then come here to de-stress, it’s amazing what it can do for our team.”
While the emphasis is on twice-a-day training — a grueling morning workout, followed by afternoon drill work and technique-based training — the trip is also about building team camaraderie.
“The training trip brings us closer together because we’re in one central location,” said senior Carly O’Brien. “The warmer weather makes practices a lot more enjoyable, and we’re able to get more done with our training.”
The team’s focus is on togetherness.
“We do a lot of team activities throughout the week,” said O’Brien. “We get paired with people we’re not usually hanging out with, so that brings everyone closer.”
Some of the activities includes kayaking, pickup football games on the beach, or just perusing the local shops. The Hawkeyes took advantage of the sun and beach with a holiday sand sculpture contest Tuesday.
“It’s important to build the relationships,” said freshman Thomas Pederson. “We all use one another to push each other during practices. This trip gives us the opportunity to talk with teammates that you might not talk to as much.
“This gives us a chance to get to know them better and bring us closer together.”
Pederson heard good things leading up to the training trip and it’s living up to its billing.
“It’s a good time where you don’t have to stress about school, work hard in the pool and get to know other people on the team,” said Pederson. “It’s a good opportunity for me and the other freshmen to let loose in the pool, buckle down, and focus on swimming.”
When the Hawkeyes return to Iowa City, it will mark the beginning of the home stretch to the season. The team will wrap up the dual portion of the schedule before embarking on championship season in February and March.
“The season is a grind,” said Rathbun. “You get caught up in doing the same things every day. To be able to change things up can give you a different perspective with how your training is going and what you need to work on.
“This is a great time for us to focus on things you want to perfect leading into the championship season.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Jan. 12-13, hosting Illinois and Notre Dame at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium.