Happy New Year’s alumni, fellow student-athletes, and parents! This is Matt Grippo, a student-athlete and senior distance swimmer here on the UMass Swim Team. I have been given the privilege of running this blog while we are here in San Juan to keep everyone updated on what we achieve as a team every day.
Our first morning practice yesterday began like one of the football bowl games, with a majestic flyover, only instead of jets 8 Macaws flew over the Loyola pool. On the way to and from practice we jam out to local radio stations to the signature Puerto Rican beat, dum da dum dum (pretend you know what that sounds like). Even though it all sounds the same, we get pumped every time we hear it. For new year’s eve both men and women teams stayed in the hotel because from our rooms we were able to see not 1, not 2, but 4 separate fireworks shows all in various locations across the lagoon. The best and biggest fireworks show in view was actually on a small airports entire runway and the grand finale was nothing short from extraordinary as every inch of that landing strip was used.
Today our morning practice consisted of the classic 2000 pull set for the distance swimmers while the other groups grinded out equally as challenging sets. After practice a dozen of the boys on the team went to go body surf or as we like to call it “shred the gnar gnar” at one of the local beaches. The boys made their way out and caught some choice waves. But at one point some of the lifeguards in the group noticed two kids who looked no older than 13 years old off in the distance struggling to swim. Their hunches were solidified when they could hear the kids begin to yell “help”. Immediately the boys sprang into action and with their godlike swimming abilities bolted over to assist these two kids before the surf tossed them into the jagged rocks they were headed towards. In a group effort they calmed the kids down, gained control of them, and as a group towed them out of the surf and off to safety on the shore.
Tomorrow will be our first single practice day of the cycle. We are excited for this break and will spend the time off further exploring Puerto Rico and the treasures it has to offer. After that we will begin our second 3 day cycle.