Usually heading down to Florida would be a vacation, but for the Nebraska swim and dive team, it was all business.
For the past 20 years under head coach Pablo Morales, the team has gone on training trips over the last week of winter break. Every year they go somewhere different and this year’s destination was Delray Beach, Florida.
Morales said it’s not uncommon for a team in a cold-weather climate to take some time and train out in the sun. Getting some added vitamin D and escaping the cold can change the way the swimmers think about training and bring some fun back into it, while also helping to push them harder.
Despite training over the end of winter break, Morales still tries to give the athletes time to make sure they can relax and see family without swimming and school on their minds. Swimmers get nine days off around Christmas and the holidays.
Once the team gets back from those nine days off, the training starts right back up in Lincoln. The Huskers swim in a 25-yard pool at home, but traveling to Florida allowed them to train in a 50-meter pool instead, offering a different kind of practice.
“There is no limit to training per week or limits from being in school — it’s just straight training — it is time that we don’t get often so we have to take advantage of it,” Morales said. “Breaking up that training is a key because of how hard we are pushing the girls.”
In Florida, the team’s practice schedule was not too much of a vacation. The Huskers held double practices most of the time they were there, where they would swim two hours usually from 6:00-8:00 in the morning and two hours in the afternoon from around 2:00-4:00. Additionally, with a number of weightlifting circuits in between their time in the pool, the work amounted to about four to five hours of training each day.
After the training was done for the day the team was able to do what they truly wanted to do in Florida, finding time to relax and enjoy a vacation.
Along with the training aspect, team bonding is another main reason to go on these types of trips.
“It’s great for the team morale, great for team bonding, especially with the place that we went to in Florida,” Morales said. “There were shops to walk to close by and a beach that we got to go to a couple times.”
The team bonding wasn’t just outside of the pool deck, as at every practice they would do a break down of what to work on.
“A theme that we talk about, from each group of girls, we talk about what they focus on during practice, also shout-outs [swimmers who did well] of the day … taking about 10-15 mintues after every practice,” Morales said.
According to Morales, training somewhere new and getting more opportunities for team bonding helps the swimmers not only physically, but mentally as well. Getting that time to really find the joy in the sport can really revamp the team.
Morales also mentioned the trip had benefits for the coaching staff, as it allowed them to not just stand on an inside pool deck all day and instead get some sun as well.
“We do have our families so we are away from home, but it’s a part of being a coach and we do it for the girls,” Morales said.
The Huskers hope this training trip will help jumpstart the back half of their season as the team starts to prepare for the bigger meets of the year.
“Being able to train like how we did was so beneficial … mentally by the end of the week you think to yourself, I can do the unthinkable because [of the] hard training we just went through,” junior Madison Coughlen said.