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The Dartmouth men's and women's swimming and diving teams will embark on their annual winter training trip from Dec. 9-19 in historic San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team will be providing a "behind the scenes" blog so that friends, family and Big Green swimming and diving fans can keep up with their adventures.  Make sure to check in to see what the team is up to down in the Caribbean.

2013 Winter Training Trip Itinerary

Monday Dec. 9- Depart for San Juan, Puerto Rico via JFK Airport, New York City

Monday Dec. 9 -Thursday Dec. 19 - Training at Sacred Heart University, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Day One (12/9):  The Amazing Race Begins (Patrick Kang ’17 and Christiana Salvatori ’17)

We started off our day in Princeton, New Jersey with a 4:30am wake up call. Although there was some stress about the snow, we arrived safely at JFK airport. Unlike the stories we heard from the past, traveling through the airport was a breeze. Everyone made it on to the flight with plenty of time.

After a four-hour flight, we landed in the beautiful and tropical San Juan. However, the ease at which we had gone through the day ended there. Navigation was difficult in this foreign environment. Eventually, everyone made it to the hotel, some later than others.

The next adventure was finding the pool at Sacred Heart University. It was like the Amazing Race, mini-van style. Teva Levens ’14 finally was able to find the pool, followed closely by Coach Ross. The prize in this race was being able to complete the post-meet workout, in its entirety.  Once at the university, we still struggled to find the pool.  Thankfully Konrad von Moltke ’15 saved the day and pulled out the word for pool, piscina, which enabled the security guards to help us find the pool.  Also good to note, the word for men is “caballeros” and women is “damas”, in case you need to use the locker rooms.

After some much needed recovery, we headed to the Ponderosa Steak House for dinner. Chicken, steak and fish were on the menu and the team happily gorged itself on the protein. Jorge Siwady ’17 impressed everyone by knowing the secret menu, ordering while the rest of us watched in amazement.

Sleep came next, with many resting early for what is sure to be an excellent training trip!

Day Two (12/10): Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Timo Vaimann ’17 and James Thompson ‘17)

We started off the day by climbing the longest ladder set we had ever climbed. It was a difficult set, but we knew that it was difficult for everyone so that made it easier to push ourselves.

During the day, some people decided to go the beach and other chose to hibernate in between morning and afternoon practice. Which group the people belonged to was evident in their skin tones when they showed up to practice.

The sun was shining and it was very hot outside when we started dry-land (which turned, quickly into not-so-dry-land). Afterwards, the coaches did not have to tell us to get in the pool. Everyone was looking forward to the refreshing waters of our 50-meter swimming pool. By the time we got out the sun had set. There was traffic and some random downpours on the way back, but everyone made it to the hotel. A clear improvement compared to yesterday.

Today for dinner, coach Jim presented us with excessive amounts of food in the lobby of our hotel. Everyone enjoyed the dinner but Nejc Zupan ‘14 clearly benefited the most from the food overflow; he now has about a hundred delicious meatballs in his fridge. 

Day Three (12/11): Schmidt and Jenko (Maddie Dunn ’17 and David Harmon ‘17)

We started our second full day in Puerto Rico with another early morning practice. For the first time, we all arrived at the pool on time, navigating the windy streets of San Juan with ease. The caravan of drivers has grown accustomed to local driving rules, or lack thereof (what is a blinker?). We were relieved to find out we were starting off the day with a kick set, which ultimately became a kick practice.  We stumbled back to the cars for some much-needed breakfast at the hotel, followed by long naps in our rooms.

Everyone woke up just in time for a scenic tour of Old San Juan. After a “long” walk to a famous Puerto Rican military fort, El Morro, the girls got a little snap happy and began taking hoards of pictures. Groups split up to explore the picturesque fort, which offered breathtaking views of the city and the crashing waves below. Afterwards, we had plenty of time to explore the cobblestone streets and colorful shops of Old San Juan.  Konrad von Moltke ’15 and Logan Briggs ’16 went on a romantic adventure to a second fort and on the way saw the filming of an exciting chase scene between an orange Ferrari and a red jeep for 22 Jump Street. 

After an exciting afternoon, we split up into groups for our second practice of the day. Stroke group did a high intensity VO2 set, which got our blood pumping. All around, the sets for this evening were well liked. We proceeded to the hidden jewel of Puerto Rican cuisine, and arguably the best eatery in the Caribbean, Ponderosa Steakhouse. Despite some minimal name mix-ups (Christiana Salvatori ’17 referred to as “Sel”), everyone settled down to a hearty plate of meat. We traipsed back to the hotel, ready for another day of sun, sand, and swimming. 

Day Four (12/12): Surf's Up! (Jack Long ’17 and Heather Laedtke  ‘17)

Our third day of training trip began with a long freestyle and kick “recovery” practice.  Many were feeling the pain from previous practices but pushed through with hopes of a sunny day at the beach.

The beach day was picturesque with lots of sun and sand. Large groups were in the ocean or tanning. It went a little astray when Lindsay got stung by a jellyfish and had her foot begin to swell.  Although some were deterred from going into the ocean after this, the day continued at the pool where many got quite a lot of sun.

Meanwhile, a van of seven boys took a drive to a different beach in old San Juan to hit the surf. They rented boards from La Ocho surf shop and attempted to surf, with Logan Briggs ’16 being the only successful one for the most part. Konrad von Moltke ’15 wanted to tell Coach Jim that Jack Long ’17 had been lost at sea and that they sent Jun Oh ‘16 to go save him, but that he also perished. They then stopped for some authentic Puerto Rican food where Jorge ordered for everyone in Spanish.

After many post beach naps, we headed back to the pool for “not so dry-land” due to the heat and lack of air conditioning. The practice that followed was rough for some, but ended strong with King of the Kick.

Day Five (12/13): (Tate Ramsden ’17 and Amy Sun ‘17)

Today started out just like any other day on training trip.  Everybody woke up to a delicious breakfast from the hotel and then piled into the soccer-mom minivans.  Per usual, the weather was bipolar; light rains quickly cleared up to reveal the beaming Caribbean sun.  After the weekly warm-up, we split into groups.  The sprint group had a mobility session before a set of broken 200s, the distance group did relays, and the stroke group had the privilege of a guest appearance in the pool from Coach Jenn.  After practice, everyone rushed back to the vans in a stampede to get to second breakfast as quickly as possible, which was not easy in the Puerto Rican traffic.  Puerto Rican traffic has only one rule: there are no rules.

Between practices, many swimmers chose to sleep in the comfort of their hotel rooms while others opted to relax by the pool, as they hadn’t seen enough of the water yet on the trip.  There, the swimmers encountered a feral black cat, which Coach Ross fondly named Paul.  Luckily, the jet-black cat did not cross anybody’s path, causing no bad luck. Ross also jumped into the pool after a workout, showing off some freestyle strokes of his own.  Yet another group of brave swimmers ventured out into the Puerto Rican rain forest to see some wildlife and waterfalls. 

Eventually, the fun had to end and all the swimmers had to return to the watery depths of the pool. The distance group anticipated a brutal set of 6x900s but Coach Jim had a different agenda, changing the workout to another round of relays and “tough long distance stuff”. The stroke group swam another difficult workout of 20x50s from the blocks in which Konrad von Moltke ’13 informed us how much he loves gold and how nice the “muzzies” (mustaches) looked in room 248. While sprint group performed a series of stations involving kicking with stretch cords, breath control, and of course, sprinting.

Dinner choices included yet another delicious at Ponderosa and Pasta To Go (a much wiser choice). The day wrapped up with ice baths and oompa loompa singing performed by Aaron Athanas ’16. 

Day Six (12/14)

We woke up this morning earlier than normal, but thankfully we left at 6:01, so we were able to grab some breakfast before driving to the pool.

At practice we had a shortened workout, after the freshmen girls completed a get-out 200 medley relay swim. We were spared from the tough 20 x 50s sprint set Jim had originally planned.

Following practice we quickly went back to the hotel to eat some more breakfast and at 8:20 we got in the vans to drive to East Island Excursions for our snorkeling and catamaran excursion. After arriving at the Puerto Del Ray Marina, we all boarded the catamaran. First, we stopped at a small island about an hour away from the marina. We were able to lie out under the shining sun, play football on the beach, and swim in the clear blue waters. After our time there, and a lunch provided by the crew, we sailed further out to a coral reef. Before beginning our snorkeling excursion through the reef, we held our annual Belly Flopping Contest. Several attempted belly flops, but there was definitely some previous experience. Shout-out to James Thompson ‘17, Cristiana Salvatori ‘17, Maddie Dunn ‘17, and Tate Ramsden ’17  for some sweet flops. Following the contest we had the opportunity to go snorkeling. Not only were there some great, colorful fish, but the weather was awesome and I think everyone was happy not to have a double workout today. At 2:30 we sailed back to the port and drove back to the hotel. After a couple of hours to rest at the hotel, we all got ready for “Date Night,” where all the men’s team members picked one name from the women’s team out of a hat and took her out to dinner. Many of the team members and went on double and triple dates in Old San Juan. After driving around in circles for what felt like hours (a 15 minute drive took us an hour and 15 minutes), our van was left with no choice but to get valet parking. We chose to eat at a small Mexican restaurant named “El Tijuana” which overlooked the bay, had men serenading many of the restaurant goers, and provided complimentary sombreros. For the six of us: Natalia Vecerek ‘14, Lindsay Tyler ‘15, Heather Laedtke ‘17, Dorian Allen ‘17, Joby Bernstein ‘17, and James Thompson, we inevitably got to know each other really well due to the endless amount of waiting. After the long drive, it took us an hour to get our meals after ordering. Thankfully, everyone enjoyed his or her meals!

Following dinner, we got Cold Stone Ice Cream, and went to valet to pick up our car. Unfortunately, nobody warned us how long it could take to get a valet car. Despite no line, it took us 45 minutes before our car arrived. By then, most of us were already sitting on the street getting ready to go to sleep. Thankfully there was no traffic on the way home. Most of the team appears to be sleeping by now trying to maximize the extra hour of sleep we get before tomorrow. 

Day Seven (12/15)

This Sunday morning started off with a pleasantly late practice time of 8 am. Refreshed from an extra hour of sleep and an afternoon off, we headed to the pool for an hour lift and two hours of swimming. After the tough dry-land session we were all happy to jump into the refreshing pool.  Everyone swam the same practice, which involved some sprinting and underwater kicking.

The team headed back to the hotel and got ready for the day’s adventures (another afternoon off!) Val Orellana (’15) had worked hard to organize a trip to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in North America. A large portion of the team chose to go on the day trip while others relaxed at the hotel. Our fleet of minivans headed out on the 45-minute drive but unfortunately some had a smoother ride than others. Charlotte Kamai (’16) and her van had to deal with the classic training trip flat tire. Thankfully Nejc Zupan (’14) and Erin Henn (’14) were there to change the tire as Madeleine Dunn (’17) watched in admiration.

Each van finally arrived at the trail and set out on the path towards La Mina waterfall. After a hike of about 20 minutes we arrived at the beautiful waterfall. Some groups even waded into the water and walked under the falls. After snapping many pictures and enjoying the amazing scenery, we headed back to the vans, ready for a relaxing afternoon off.

After the waterfall, most of the men’s team headed to Plaza las Americas in order to watch The Hobbit the desolation of some dragon whose name I don’t know. Upon the arrival to the mall our drivers had to resort to their instincts to find parking in the crowded mall filled with hostile drivers, some taking ages to find a spot while others parked several blocks from the mall. After a quick dinner before the movie, we all sat in a packed theater in anticipation. As most of the commercials where in Spanish and the movie was introduced as “El Hobbit” many team members wondered whether the movie was in Spanish. The tension grew as we all waited for the first words and then when a language all too familiar to everyone present was spoken we all relaxed and enjoyed the show.

While the men’s team enjoyed their movie, the freshmen girls were hard at work choreographing an original dance to present to the rest of the women’s team. We worked tirelessly (even while eating dinner) and finally at 8 o’clock it was show time. Although there were some difficulties with the music volume and the weather, we nailed our routine and even finished it off with a synchronized swimming portion in the hotel pool. Exhausted from our long day of adventures, we headed to our rooms to rest up for the remaining practices.

Day Eight (12/16): (Heather Laedtke ’17 and Timo Vaimann ‘17)

Monday morning was a relatively normal practice, with a freshmen girls vs. freshmen boys relay at the end. The boys did a 450 while the girls did a 400 and each went twice. The boys finished first with Jack Long ‘17 finishing with backstroke into the wall.

It was a relaxing afternoon with most people napping and hanging by the pool. Some of the ‘15s went to lunch with a Dartmouth friend who lives in Puerto Rico. Everyone was getting their Secret Santa gifts ready for the exchange later that night and preparing mentally for the King of the Hill test set (20x100 best average) later that night.

The afternoon practice went as expected, with KOH being the main event. Everyone pushed themselves and encouraged their teammates to maximize their potential. It felt great afterwards to have that set behind us.

After dinner, the team had the annual Secret Santa ceremony poolside. Each person gave and explained their gift that “suited” the person that they had. For example, Nejc Zupan ’14 gave Kendy Nangle a helmet, inspired by her recent concussion. It was a fun way to have the whole team bonding.  Everyone went back to their room with smiles and laughs.

Day Nine (12/17): (David Harmon ’17 and Jack Long ‘17)

Our second Tuesday in Puerto Rico began like any other early morning with some light breakfast before the caravan ride to the (by now very familiar) pool. The distance group knew that we were doing the infamous 6 x 900s set that night, so there was a lot of relief in doing a morning freestyle set together.  Afterwards we all piled into the van for second breakfast and many naps. 

During the day there was tanning, sleeping, and laundry in preparation for our last dryland.  The last dryland just happened to coincide with the sunniest day, which meant less time poolside, and more time filling our own pool under our feet.

Our main focus for the distance group that day was a set of six 900s. It was a tough set with some fast intervals, but everyone pushed hard and got through it. It was one of the most rewarding workouts of the whole trip. Its great to know that were almost done with the first part of training trip.

Day Ten (12/18): (Jorge Siwady ’17 and Maddie Dunn ‘17)

We kicked off our last full day of training trip with a tough practice and big breakfast. Stroke, sprint and distance groups saw some new faces today. The scrambled groups each tackled a challenging set, but many of us were willing to sacrifice our daily naps to enjoy a few more hours in the sun.

We finished off the afternoon by taking advantage of all that Puerto Rico has to offer. First, the team headed out to the Bacardi factory; our tour guides shared with us the history of the Bacardi family, and how their famous rum is made. We weaved through various rooms filled with bottles of liquor and family memorabilia with complimentary drinks from the bar in hand (virgin of course).

With Christmas dinner fast approaching, many of the girls were anxious about how much time there would be to get ready. Luckily, we were treated to an ocean swim right off the beautiful coastlines of San Juan. The wavy ocean water was a welcome change of pace from the training pool, particularly for the seniors who only had to swim one lap around the buoys as part of “Senior Appreciation.” Once the 17s finished up their four laps, everyone scampered back to the hotel, anticipating a delicious dinner.

Tampa Training Trip

Tuesday December 31

After arriving at different times throughout the day on Monday, we were all reunited bright and early in the hotel lobby on Tuesday morning. We were happy to see each other and refreshed from our holiday break. We had a quick breakfast and team meeting before heading off to the pool. Our training facility for the week is well-liked, as it features both a long course and short course pool as well as a great view of the ocean. Although the mornings can be a little chilly here, once we get in the water and get moving the temperature isn't a problem. 

The men's and women's teams split up for this morning's short course yards practice. Both practices involved some fast 50's as well as relays at the end. As always our competitive spirits came out and there was a lot of loud cheering and yelling. After workout many people headed to the grocery store while others went straight back to the hotel to rest. There was a short turn-around time between practices so most of us relaxed in the rooms before it was time to head back to the pool. 

The afternoon's workout consisted of a beachside dryland session (basically a reenactment of Bay Watch) and a tough freestyle set of 150s and 100s kick in the long course  pool. 

And then the team was off to Katie Papa's wonderful parents' beach house for a delicious New Year's Eve dinner. The night was filled with football and fireworks on the beach. Needless to say, it was a great way to end the year. 

Dressed to the nines, we pulled up to Texas de Brazil (with the exception of Jay Schulte ’15 and Konrad von Moltke ’15, who were doing some last minute shopping in Old San Juan, and arrived late sporting some unique paisley ties).  The Brazilian Steakhouse featured a heaping salad bar and even more impressive selection of meat. Waiters brought around skewers of chicken, pork, steak, and lamb as we eagerly licked our plates clean. After everyone had eaten their fill, we took some pictures in our dresses and ties before reality set in. For a few hours we had forgotten about the 10,000 meters we would tackle in the morning. Thankfully, we were very well fed.