What could be more relaxing than a winter break in the Sunshine State?
For Penn swimming, pretty much everything.
On Dec. 27, the men’s and women’s squads fly down to Florida for a ten-day intensive training trip. In preparation for the remainder of the Ivy season, the Ivy Championship and, potentially, the National Championships, the Quakers will endure coach Mike Schnur’s swimming boot camp.
“Our entire season pretty much comes down to what we do in this next month,” said Schnur, who went on his first Penn training trip as a student-athlete himself in 1986. “It’s a tricky transition we make now from racing our best to real nasty hard work during the next four or five weeks.”
The training trip will come immediately after a brief hiatus from full-intensity practice. After both teams won the Total Performance Invitational meet last weekend — a meet at which the men had 22 swimmers make the “B cut” for nationals, the second highest tier of qualifying scores— will focus primarily on finals and the holidays until the end of the month. While the swimmers will stay active and practice independently throughout the next couple weeks, the training trip will be a huge, strenuous transition.
“We spend 10 days where pretty much the only thing we have to do is eat, sleep and work out,” Schnur said.
The physical labor of the training trip is taxing. Spending four to five hours in the pool swimming thousands of yards a day forces the teams to compete and push themselves. The Quakers engage in out-of-water gaining as well, as they spend much of their time ashore lifting, running and doing aerobic exercises.
Despite the work, Schnur points to the training trip as a “tone-setter” for the team both in the water and as a community. Spending every minute together, including free time events such as lounging by the pool or attending the Orange Bowl, enables the Red and Blue to bond during the long winter break.
“You’re not really a team until you get back from Florida,” Schnur said. “It’s really a fun time. It’s the only time of the year when they can just be athletes.”
The team will hopefully take advantage of this opportunity, because it’s all business once the team returns. Penn faces Dartmouth and Yale in New Haven just days after returning from Florida. The men’s Penn-Yale matchups will be the topic of the meet, for both hot squads are on the rise. Since both teams’ strengths are in their distance and breaststroke heats, the showdown has major Ivy implications.
“Our expectation is that we keep doing what we’ve been doing — race our best,” Schnur said. “You’re going to see some Ivy champions racing against each other ... It’s [a meet] that our kids point to at the beginning of the year.”
While it is too early to guess the results of Penn’s meets after the break, one thing is for sure — the Quakers will not don their fast suits as a team until Ivy Championships. Throughout the season, Schnur has made a point of emphasizing that his teams will save the compression suits for when they matter most.
Fast suits or not, the Red and Blue have set the bar high, with the intention of climbing a couple steps closer to the top in Florida.
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