Sunshine State Preps ‘Dogs for Final Haul

LAUDERDALE, Florida – Truman State University swimming teams spent 10 days in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, during Winter Break for their annual training trip.

Junior Jamie Fitzpatrick said most colleges around the country take a training trip to a southern location to give them a chance to practice somewhere warm during their hardest grind of the season. Fitzpatrick said a change in location really does benefit the team, perhaps more mentally than physically, in a long season that runs from September to March.

“It’s really good for the team to get out of Kirksville to train,” Fitzpatrick said. “It can get really draining, mentally and physically, to be stuck in the cold, alone on campus with just another team or two, grinding two plus practices a day. Going to Florida in the warm sunshine helps us to stay positive and enjoy the process more. And when we’re all in good spirits like that, we are a better team all around and make each other faster.”

The location changes year to year and is usually picked by the coaches, but the week is not a vacation.

All work and no play

Senior Grant Gilchrist said the teams practiced twice a day just like at school — however, the intensity was much higher during this trip.

“The training trip is a whole new ball game because we train twice as hard in the morning and afternoon, whether it is aerobic or sprint or pace sets,” Gilchrist said. “It is all really tough work and extremely exhausting, but we get to do it somewhere that is warm.”

Truman covers most of the expenses, but the swimmers still have to pay for a chunk of the travel costs. The program has a fundraiser called “Splash into Fall” to help pay for part of the trip.

Freshman Austin Mayer said they paid close to $600 each but were given a stipend for food that week. The hotel was close to a grocery store and the swimmers rented bikes to get around while they were there. Between practices, the swimmers could spend time on the beach relaxing and playing games.

Their first meet was Sept. 24, and GLVC meet is right around the corner, Feb. 8-11. The swimmers said this training trip helps the team prepare for the last month of tough training, their senior meet and, most importantly, conference.