Jayhawks return home from Puerto Rico training trip

Jan. 10, 2012

MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico. – After more than of a week of training and competitive swimming, the Kansas swimming and diving team will travel back to the cozy confines of Campanile Hill Tuesday. Gone are the outdoor swimming pools, beaches and long course meets and back is familiar Robinson Natatorium and the short course events that take place inside of it.

Even though the student athletes will be going back to school and heading out into cooler temperatures, KU head coach Clark Campbell thinks his team is looking forward to their arrival in Lawrence.

“Usually (by the end of the trip), 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.”

The adjustment time from tropical Puerto Rico to wintery Kansas will not last long for Campbell and his squad as they have just three days to prepare for their senior day meet against Nebraska, Saturday afternoon at Robinson Natatorium. That quick turnaround also comes at one of the most crucial times for his team’s training regimen.

We are in the middle of phase four of our training and we will continue that up through the Nebraska meet,” Campbell explained. “The end of this training block is probably the toughest of the year, but the week school starts we will shift into a different phase.”

The spring semester begins at KU on Tues. Jan. 17, and while the Jayhawks look forward to all that the next few weeks has to offer, here is a quick look back at what the last week was like for the swimming and diving team on the island of Puerto Rico.

Blog #1 (Tues. Jan. 3 — Wed. Jan. 4) Sr. Captain Sarah Hettenbach 011012aaa_566_7170165.jpeg

“Hóla from sunny Puerto Rico!! We landed yesterday (Tuesday) in San Juan and made our way via bus to our home base for the trip, Rincon. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by lots of palm trees and smiling faces at our hotel, which is literally right on the beach. Before our trip, we had been warned by our coach, Clark Campbell about the possibility of iguanas of varying sizes, so after hitting an enormous pothole while on the bus, (senior) Kath Liggett said, ‘Did we just hit an iguana?!’ which made everyone on the team laugh.

This morning (Wednesday), after eating breakfast we headed to the pool in Mayaguez, about 20 minutes away. The bus ride to and from the pool was unique to say the least! Besides seeing a lot of jungle-like scenery, we also saw some roadside salesmanship. The best product were the blue jeans that were for sale on the side of the road, but that would definitely not allow much time to try on your purchase! The pool was very nice and had both a short course and long course one as well as a full tower for the divers to practice on. It is great being able to train outside in the sun and fresh air even in the middle of January!

After practice we headed back to Rincon, grabbed some lunch at the hotel and headed out to get some more sun on the beach. (I have a feeling that we will be some of the tannest people on campus when classes start back up!) A few of us played ‘beach baseball’, using some driftwood as a bat and a coconut as the ball. Another group of people rented the banana boat and rode around on it for a while, only falling off a few times! And of course lots of pictures were taken, including one with a 1988 KU alumni! It seems you truly can find a Jayhawk anywhere you go. Thinking back during my previous training trips, I don’t think there has been one where we haven’t run across someone that graduated from KU, who greeted us with a Rock Chalk!”

Blog #2 (Thurs. Jan. 5 — Fri. Jan. 6) Sr. Captain Shannon Garlie

011012aaa_566_7312460.jpeg“Puerto Rico has been a blast so far! It was a little stormy Thursday and Friday, but we are still able to enjoy the wonderful outdoors. Yesterday (Thurs.), some of us took a five minute taxi ride to watch surfers, while others played in the waves or laid out on the beach.

The ocean waves have been a little bigger than they were the first day we were here, but a number of us really enjoy the bigger ones. Some of the girls were even swallowed up by the bigger waves but came up smiling. The meals down here have consistently been amazing and have helped us get through the tough workouts. Today (Fri.), some of us went shopping, while others relaxed on the beach. Most of us enjoyed a yummy milkshake in the sunshine.

Our meet is tomorrow and we are looking forward to it because it has been about a month since we last raced. We are confident we will come out victorious because we have been doing everything we can to prepare.”

Blog #3 (Sat. Jan. 7 — Sun. Jan. 8) Sr. Captain Stephanie Payne

011012aaa_566_7317975.jpeg“Greetings from Puerto Rico! This trip has been a blast for all of us! We have all been training really hard and working on our tans 🙂

Yesterday (Saturday), we had a meet against LaSalle and Saint Michael’s. It was a lot of fun and different than the usual meets we compete in. We did 50’s in all of the strokes and a 200 free and 200 IM, so it was a lot of fun to be able to switch it up a bit. It was long course rather than short course, which also made it fun because it was just different than our usual short course meets. Training and competing outside is way different than inside because the sun zaps the energy out of you. It sometimes makes it difficult to stay in a straight line during backstroke, but we all manage.

Today (Sunday), we had morning practice and then came back. Most of us just laid out on the beach, while some went to souvenir shops around the area. During the time some of us were laying out, we spotted a crab! That kind of hampered the mood though, because we kept thinking the crab was close to us.

This afternoon was different than all the rest because instead of traveling almost an hour to the complex where we had been practicing, we had an option to either swim a 2K in the ocean or do a beach workout with Coach Eric (Elliott). More than half of us did the beach workout, while the others swam. Those of us who did the beach work out did relays and sprints, which was a lot of fun because it was something different. Those who swam in the ocean said it was a lot of fun and was a good experience.”

Tonight we are headed out to a Mexican restaurant down the street. We have been eating at the hotel for every meal, so tonight will be a little different because we will be getting out. Dinner has also been taking place at about 9:00 every night, so this evening it will be a bit earlier. The food here at the hotel though has been absolutely amazing!! We are all really impressed with the variety and the taste of the food they offer. Ciao!

011012aaa_566_7203050.jpegBlog #4 (Mon. Jan. 9 — Tue. Jan. 10) KU senior Kath Liggett

** Coming tomorrow, January 11 **011012aaa_566_7321171.jpeg

Past training trips at a glance
2007 – San Luis Potosi, Mexico
2008 – San Juan, Puerto Rico
2009 – Miami, Fla.
2010 – Los Angeles, Calif.
2011 – South Florida
2012 – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico ABOVE: A quick photo on the beaches of Mayaguez