Swimming & Diving team heads to Puerto Rico for annual training trip

Jan. 2, 2012

MAYAGUEZ, PUERTO RICO – The Kansas Swimming and diving team will leave chilly Lawrence Tuesday, and head toward the tropical waters of Puerto Rico for the team’s annual training trip. The first full week of 2012 will find head coach Clark Campbell’s squad in Mayaguez, on the island’s west coast.

“The most important thing about this trip is the ability to train outside,” Campbell said. “Most of our summer meets are outside, so they (the athletes) have to kind of get used to the sun, the wind and the nuances of being in an outdoor pool.”

It should not take too long for the Jayhawks to get used to their temporary environment, as the average year-long temperature for Mayaguez is a comfortable 78 degrees. Aside from the differences of competing in a natural environment, Kansas swimmers will also be taking part in long course events (meters) as opposed to short course (yards). This switch enables athletes to become more comfortable with events the way they are conducted in international competition. According to Campbell, that opens the door for some surprise performances.

“It always happens during a trip that some swimmers will race really well off the type of training that we are doing,” Campbell explained. “There are always a couple of surprises as some swimmers will stand up and race at a phenomenally high level.”

Toward the end of the week-long trip, Kansas will swim against LaSalle and St. Michaels (Vt.), who are also training on the island. The Jayhawks have no competitive history with either school, which affords them a fresh look at a new opponent.

“We are all staying in the same area and are there at the same time, so it will be a real training camp type of situation,’ Campbell said. “One team will have the pool for a certain amount of time and then another team will have it, so we kind of take turns each day while being there.”

KU will go up against both schools in a meet scheduled for 8 a.m. (10 a.m. Atlantic time), on Sat. Jan. 7. Events will include the 200 free, 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 free and 200 IM.

Aside from perfecting their starts and strokes, Campbell is looking forward to his team being exposed to culture they otherwise would not be able to see and experience.

“That is a big part of the student athlete experience,” the KU coach explained. “Each year we have been fortunate enough to go to a different part of the country and train where it is warmer, but here (in Puerto Rico), they are going to experience a totally different culture than what we have in the states. Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it has its own country type of feel to it,” he said.

That sentiment is shared by a number of Campbell’s swimmers, including senior Shannon Garlie, who will be taking part in her fourth training trip as a member of the Kansas squad.

“I am really looking forward to seeing all there is and experiencing a different culture for a week,” Garlie said. “It is definitely going to open our eyes to the different lifestyles people lead.”

While Garlie and her teammates are looking forward to the week-long get-a-way, Campbell knows his team will be excited to return to the cozy confines of KU at trip’s end.

“Usually by then, they are missing Lawrence and are looking forward to going back to class,” he said. “The athletes like it while they are there, but at the same time, you can tell that they are anxious to get home and see their friends.”

Kansas is no stranger to the island of Puerto Rico as it traveled there in 2008 for a similar training trip. The team has stayed in the U.S., the last three years taking trips to Florida and California from 2009-11.

Coach Campbell and his team will embark on their eight day journey, Tuesday morning Jan. 3 and will not make their return flight to Kansas City until the following Tues. Jan 10. Log onto kuathletics.com for special swimmer blogs throughout the week as we follow the Jayhawks on their journey through the Spanish speaking commonwealth.