The Harvard men's swimming team has embarked on its annual training trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico where it will compete and train over a 10-day period to prepare for the second half of the season. Senior co-captain Matthew McLean will be blogging throughout the trip for GoCrimson.com, giving fans an inside look into the program.
Saturday, January 14
The alarm went off a half hour later this morning, a refreshing change to the routine we had gotten into. The final double of our training trip was upon us and it began to rain heavily; surely a sign of what was to come. We had been training hard all week and knew that these last few practices were not going to be easy. The morning was a little bit milder than usual in order to get ready for the threshold set that was coming up in the afternoon. We did some tempo work and finished morning practice. The time between practices flew by with anticipation of what was to come in the afternoon session. After arriving at the pool, coach had us loosen and then get our heart rates up. Depending on the group you trained in, the number of rounds of the set you completed would differ. Towards the end of the set, everyone who was not doing the final round was on the side cheering on the remaining swimmers. The last few minutes, the team was so fired up that it was hard to hear anything. The set was hard and everyone gave everything they had to finish it. The practice was over and so was our final double. We all were very happy with how the day had gone and were ready for some dinner and rest later that night. The team rushed back and watch the NFL Playoff games and fell asleep in the process. Tomorrow we knew would be a recovery practice or an ocean swim. Either way, it would be another great day in Puerto Rico.
Friday, January 13
Today was a hard day of training. We woke up and headed to the pool to complete a fast tempo set which seemed to be harder than the one in the beginning of the week. The entire week was wearing us down yet we continued to push through. After the difficult practice we went back to the hotel. It seemed that more and more of the team opted for a nap between practices as the week went on. Weights was on the agenda for later in the afternoon and the team rested up. The entire day went well and we had a great afternoon practice and then headed back to the hotel. Later on in the night we had our annual Secret Santa exchange which was full of laughs and was a great way to close off a hard double. The team was tired and were ready to get some rest for the even harder double tomorrow.
Thursday, January 12
This morning was a relatively moderate practice with a loosen after a hard practice yesterday afternoon. We got the kinks out and went back to the hotel. After eating breakfast, we took a quick power nap and then boarded the bus to a beach about thirty minutes away, Luquillo Beach. We played music on the way there and we're excited for a change of scenery. The beach was beautiful and we all enjoyed it. The team was either playing football, swimming to a nearby reef, or sunbathing for the duration of our time at Luquillo. Once again, the time flew by and we were headed back to the hotel. After arriving there, we changed and headed into Old San Juan for dinner. The team split up and found a number of restaurants to experience. Shortly after eating, we walked around for a little while and then headed back to the hotel and rested up for the next few days of doubles. Yet another great day in Puerto Rico had gone by.
Wednesday, January 11
We were allowed to sleep in until breakfast at 10 a.m. Relaxing a little before practice, the team either went to the beach or stayed poolside. It was a relaxing morning to recuperate and get ready for afternoon practice. We hopped on the bus knowing that there would be a hard set once we got to the pool. We did a loosen swim and prepared for the set coach was about to give us. Once he said it everyone started getting pumped up. It was going to be hard but we were ready. Throughout the entire practice, the whole team was fired up and swimming fast. After finishing the set, we warmed down and headed back for dinner. Coach announced to the whole bus, "Gentlemen, we had a great practice tonight!", which led to the team erupting in cheer. The hard day was over and we earned the afternoon off tomorrow. We are planning a beach trip for the whole team after morning practice to provide just one more thing to get us through the week. We also are looking forward to racing Notre Dame in a relay meet in the morning. Tomorrow will be a great day.
Tuesday, January 10
We woke up early for our second double of the week. Everyone was tired but the possibility of having the morning off was motivation enough to get in a hard day of work. We arrived at the pool, stretched and hopped in the water. A long volume set awaited the team after warmup. We practiced hard and returned to the hotel to refuel at breakfast.
Some of us went out to the pool while others needed a well-deserved nap. Afternoon practice was upon us and we were in for yet another long one. We made it through practice and headed back to the hotel.
Upon arrival, coach told us we had done a great job so far this week and had earned tomorrow morning off. After grabbing a quick dinner, we all met up for a meeting. We decided upon our annual Ironman competition among the freshmen. Chuck Katis received the honor. We were exhausted and promptly fell asleep with the knowledge that tomorrow afternoon would be the hardest practice of the week, if not the year.
Monday, January 9
The first day of doubles was upon us yet the beautiful weather kept us in good spirits. The morning workout was tough but we knew it would get harder later in the week. After arriving at the hotel, eating breakfast and changing, the team headed outside and tried to relax by the pool before afternoon workout. Some of the guys learned their lesson to put enough suntan lotion on the day before, so there was plenty to go around. The sun was even brighter than the day before and the weather seemed almost too good. The six hours between practices went by in a flash and before we knew it we were headed back to the pool. We successfully worked out in the weight room at the pool and started our pool session shortly after. We had a great practice following the weights and were excited to head back for dinner. As the sun set, the team headed back to the hotel in the school bus, happy with the afternoon workout. The team got back to the hotel and grabbed dinner. A few hours later, we all gathered in the coaches' room for a pizza snack and to watch the first half of the college football National Championship. Some went to bed earlier but at halftime we all headed to bed, trying to get ready for the day to come. Our first double was over with many more to come.
Sunday, January 8
The alarm went off at 7:15 a.m., a refreshing extra hour of sleep compared to our usual schedule. We all gathered outside awaiting the bus for practice, some already trying to catch the morning rays while others caught the last bit of shuteye before practice. The bus arrived and we boarded it. On the way to the pool the sun was shining into the bus, a great change to the usual dark and windy Cambridge mornings. The bus ride was short and we pulled into the pool that we would be training at for the remainder of our trip, the San Juan Natatorium. The Natatorium is a spacious pool with three open sides that shed sunlight and fresh air on the pool throughout workout. We did a loosen swim, to get the kinks out from the plane ride the night before, and followed it up with a strong rest of practice. Hurrying home to get to the breakfast buffet at the hotel, the team quickly changed and hopped on the bus. The hotel must have remembered us as they were ready with enough food to feed an army, or at least a very hungry swim team. The team demolished the buffet and hurried out to the pool. The weather outside was perfect, a mid-70's sunny day was what awaited us after practice. The rest of the day was used for recuperating and we either napped by the hotel pool or went to the beach. After a meeting in the coaches' room at 5 p.m., the team went for dinner and headed back to the hotel. The half-day of rest was over and we prepared for a week of tough training.
Saturday, January 7
After a tough morning workout to close out a great week of training, we headed to warmer weather in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Upon arrival on the island, we were greeted by a blast of hot air that assured our hopes of warm weather. Almost everyone on the team eagerly rifled through their bags for their sunglasses, shorts and sandals on their way to the bus. We boarded the yellow school bus to the hotel only to miss a welcoming rain shower by a few minutes, a sign of the great week that was to ensue. A short ride to our hotel revealed our home for the week, the Verdanza Hotel. The older guys, remembering receiving shaved ice upon arrival, rushed to the front desk to collect their snack. Rooms were revealed soon after arrival and the team received their new roommates for the week. After a long day of both practice and travelling the team grabbed a quick bite to eat around the hotel and settled into their rooms to rest up for morning practice.