The Sweet Briar College swim team will be spending a week in Florida for its annual winter training trip, beginning on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Under the guidance of head coach Donna Hodgert, the Vixens will spend seven days in Delray Beach, Fla., training twice a day in preparation for the final six weeks of the college swimming regular season. The addedd training volume not only increases fitness, but also mental strength and confidence as well, according to Hodgert.
The team also views the trip as a great way to build team unity and bring everyone together. And with the students being between semesters, it gives them an opportunity to focus on their swimming without added academic obligations.
"Despite the fatigue and cramped quarters, the training experience really bonds the group together," said Hodgert. "They are able to spend time facing the challenges of the workout as a group, but also enjoying the down time between workouts that is not a usual part of the day when the team is on campus."
Hodgert sees a big benefit in using the outdoor 50-meter pools for training, while all competitions are held in 25-meter indoor pools.
"Training in a longer pool is very beneficial, because without the frequent turns, the athlete has to focus more on stroke technique and staying strong in the middle of a swim. When they return to the shorter pool, the swimmers feel like it is much easier to swim 25 meters and that will give them a psychological boost as they head into a few dual meets upon our return."
The team will be training along side some familiar faces, as Old Dominion Athletic Conference foes Greensboro and Hampden-Sydney will be training in the same facility. Also training in the same location will be Division I powerhouse, Michigan State University.
When the team isn't in the pool, they have plans for a day at the beach, some beach yoga, meeting with some recruits, and connecting with several Sweet Briar alumnae in the area.
The Vixens will be returning to campus on Jan. 11 and to the pool on Jan. 14 when they travel to Greensboro College. Sweet Briar's ultimate focus will be on the ODAC Championships, held Feb. 9-12.