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Training trip leaves Hawkeyes prepared for championship season

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | JANUARY 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s swimming and diving team is coming off winter break hungrier and more determined than ever.

After a January that saw the team travel to San Diego for its annual winter training trip, the Hawkeyes head into the spring semester with their sights set on being competitive during the upcoming championship season.

“It’s really the most important time of the year to train,” senior Gianni Sesto said. “You can just focus on swimming and not have to worry about school, and you don’t have a cap set by the NCAA on the hours you can swim. You can really work on the finer details of your stroke.”

The team made the six-day trip to Southern California in early January for an opportunity to focus solely on swimming.

Swimming outdoors unencumbered by a normal college workload or cold Iowa weather, the Hawkeyes took part in numerous sessions of intense training and team building. It helped them to further bridge the gap for where they need to be.

“Obviously, everything gets harder once school is involved, so it was nice to be able to not have to worry about it and just be able to stay focused on preparing for the end of the year,” junior Chris Freeman said.

For head coach Marc Long, the trip was as much a learning experience for him as it was for his swimmers.

“We definitely all learned a lot about each other,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together during two-a-days, and to be able to get them away from the classrooms, we all got very comfortable with each other, not to mention the different level of training we got in that environment.”

A lot of time is a bit of an understatement.

Every morning, the Hawks woke up early for a dry-land session consisting of weightlifting and stretching, followed shortly thereafter by a morning swim. With the whole team together at once, Long and his assistants were able to examine every little aspect of their swimmers’ techniques and help them get better.

“Things like stroke technique, hand placement, and power of the stroke are all little things that we had more time to focus on in the pool,” Sesto said.

After a midday break, the Hawks hit the pool for more technique work. The team even took a field trip to a local beach for training and team-building exercises, such as bucket races and a sandcastle-building competition.

The Hawkeyes returned to Iowa City confident that they had learned more about themselves as swimmers as well as their teammates.

“We have a lot of emotion behind us, and I think that’s a good trait to have,” Sesto said. “We always have each others’ backs, and I learned that if something needs to be said, none of us are going to be afraid to say it.”


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