We now have two days of training left in Puerto Rico. The last four days have been tough, and the team is fighting to maintain a high level of positive energy. Morning practice blends into evening practice, which in turn dissolves into morning practice once again. Throughout it all, each of us is putting the work in that will bring the UMass Men’s Swim Team another A10 championship in roughly six weeks time. Following are a few notable events from the last few days.
This past Sunday, six or seven guys were working a resistance sprint set in lane one. The nature of the set allowed for each of us to sprint the length of the pool with the assistance of a long bungee cord, which was tied to both our waist and the block at the far end. Teammates at the far end of the pool would further assist the swimmer by rapidly pulling in the bungee cord. When sophomore John Conway stepped up for his 50, the rest of us worked collectively to pull him in as fast as possible. Suddenly, the bungee cord snapped and whipped back across the pool. Most of us escaped with little effect, but senior Tim O’Neill wasn’t so lucky. He let out a howl and scrambled about the deck feverishly, finally jumping in the pool in search of relief. The bungee cord had caught Tim in the shoulder, arm, and lat, where there soon appeared a large and discolored welt. Naturally, being the respectful and caring teammates that we are, the rest of us were brought to our knees with laughter.
This past Monday morning, Russ presented us with yet another gambling set. This one involved picking various numbers and cards, which corresponded with the number of 50s, 100s, and 150s that we practice would entail. Firstly, distance swimmer Matt Grippo proved true to his lane by subjecting us to 31 x 50s, 10 of which were off the blocks. As a result Matt was endlessly ridiculed and degraded, as any man having so condemned his teammates should be. Courtesy of a disastrous guest appearance by local alumni Juan Moliere, our bad luck then carried over into a quantity of painful 100′s off the blocks. Alessandro Bomprezzi eventually ended practice by drawing zero 150s from a hat. Later that day, both the Men’s and Women’s teams tripped to the nearby El Yunque rainforest. There we trekked through the jungle to swim and climb in series of picturesque waterfalls.
The weather here in Puerto Rico is largely unpredictable, and although it is predominantly sunny, we often find ourselves practicing in the rain. This afternoon proved to be one of those practices, with the sunshine periodically broken by rain showers. However tonight’s practice proved especially unique, as it allowed for two complete rainbows to span the horizon alongside the pool. The boys, amidst much whooping and hollering, claimed that this natural phenomenon was a “sign”, and insisted that practice must end immediately. However, the rainbows came to pass and practice endured.
On Thursday we travel back to UMass in time for the annual URI Invite and the remainder of intersession. Back to the cold.