Puerto Rico Serves as Second Home for Men's Swimming and Diving

After a strong start to the 2010-11 season, the Harvard men's swimming and diving team traveled to Puerto Rico for a week-long training trip to gear up for the second half of the schedule. Senior Blake Lewkowitz kept a blog during the trip, detailing workout schedules, outings and team events during the trip.

Photo Gallery: 2011 Men's Swimming and Diving Training Trip

Tuesday, January 11
After escaping the blizzard, we touched down in sunny San Juan only to be greeted by 70 degrees and sunshine. All of us pulled our shorts, t-shirts, and sandals out of our bags to immediately change to fit the weather. After two hard weeks of training at Blodgett, the whole team was excited for a change in scenery, and the beautiful Puerto Rico day already hooked us. We gathered our stuff and piled into an old school bus. We arrived at our new home for the week, the Verdanza Hotel, to be greeted with traditional Puerto Rico hospitality and coconut shaved ice. We checked in, dropped our bags off, and ran to the beach before practice. Even though our skin reflected light from lack of sunlight for the past two weeks, we had a great time and had to be pulled away from the beach to go to practice. That afternoon we swam at Sacred Heart University, one of the two pools we trained at for the week. We had a good workout and a fun first day in Puerto Rico, and after dinner, everyone passed out and got ready for the next few days of difficult training.

Wednesday, January 12
Our training schedule had us doing doubles every day during our trip. We all got on the school bus at 7:30 and again were greeted by beautiful sunlight. It was nice having sun out on the way to practice because in Cambridge the sun always seemed to rise and set during our workouts leaving us constantly to walk in the dark to our dorms. We arrived at the other pool we trained at, the San Juan Natatorium, and began to stretch out before workout. The Natatorium is a beautiful pool that is partially covered and has plenty of room for us to train in. We got a lot of great work in that morning in the pool, and all hurried home to make the breakfast buffet at the hotel. To be honest, I don't think the hotel knew what was about to hit it as a horde of starving swimmers completely obliterated the buffet. With the majority of the team shoveling food into their mouths to avoid missing sunshine, breakfast came and went, and the team either napped by the hotel pool or by the beach. That evening, we went to practice at Sacred Heart where there is an attached weight room, and we trained hard again. A few of us had already fallen victim to the blazing sun, so we made a trip to the supermarket to grab some sunscreen and aloe.

Thursday, January 13
We had another double on schedule, and the weather didn't cooperate as well as the previous two days. But, we didn't remain inside, and most of us hung out by the pool running in and out of the cabanas as it started and stopped raining during the day. With another practice at the Natatorium and Sacred Heart, we were working out hard but loving Puerto Rico since it wasn't freezing and snowing. A few of us explored Isla Verde, the town we stayed in, to find a lot of fun, local places for us to hang out and dine.

Friday, January 14
In the morning, we had a short meet against Syracuse. It was a fun break in training and a nice way for us to meet another team while in Puerto Rico. We trained before and after the meet at the Natatorium, and then had our afternoon practice with weights at Sacred Heart. The wind really picked up and cloud coverage came in protecting our skin from the sun. While many had become pretty tan already, most of us had splotchy burns from faulty sunscreen application. We were excited for the night as we went into Old San Juan for the San Sebastian Festival. This festival was unbelievable. The streets were lined with people celebrating and having a great time. When we got there, we could barely move around because of the density of people. We ate a lot of traditional Puerto Rican food and listened to reggaeton. Everyone had a blast, but we hustled home to make the curfew and get ready for the next day of training.

Saturday, January 15
With only one practice on schedule, we were ready and pumped for our practice in the afternoon. Tim was too, and we had a tough workout. We did a team set working on turns and speed, and we got each other fired up for the practice. After the workout, we all ventured up to the top of the diving platforms to jump off the 10 meter platform. For a bunch of non-divers, I think we made the pool proud. Our very own Chris Satterthwaite was given a 5.5 by Tim on his front jump from the 10 meter due to his lack of splash and wonderful form. After practice, we all headed to dinner in Isla Verde, and some even went back to Old San Juan to see more of the festival.

Sunday, January 16
We practiced in the morning and finished the week of strong by cheering on the Sprint Lane as they had a threshold set. They performed really well and the team was excited. With the afternoon off, we were able to go to Aviones Beach as a team. The beach was gorgeous. Unfortunately, the tide was very low and a few of us got stranded on some rocks a short distance of the shore and had to time our swims in so that we didn't hit the rocks. Others rented surfboards, and they braved the pretty large swells to have a great time. Everyone had a great time, and we got to see a new part of Puerto Rico on our afternoon off.

Monday, January 17
On our last full day on the island, we went back to our original schedule and had a double. The morning was our last workout at the beautiful Natatorium, and we made the most of it getting in a good aerobic set in before saying goodbye to the pool. That afternoon we went back to Sacred Heart for weights and swimming, and we had our last chance to get tan during workout. That night, we went out for a team dinner to celebrate the end of the training trip. We also did our traditional Secret Santa gift exchange (even with the schedule change the name remains the same) and had a lot of laughs at everyone's gag gifts. With that done, we all went back to our rooms to pack and get ready for our final workout at the beach.

Tuesday, January 18
Before sunrise, we all walked to the beach and stretched. As the sun rose, we swam from buoy to buoy in the break for our workout. Even though it was just easy, we all raced the swim and really pushed each other well. The beach workout somewhat symbolized our year as we constantly push each other no matter the circumstance or the set. After our buoy to buoy swim, we separated into our classes and did a relay race in the ocean. It was close race and good way to end the trip. After the relay, we regrouped on the beach and did our Haka cheer as the sun rose over the ocean. This workout was the perfect way to end a great trip, and after a quick rinse in the pool and packing up, we got on the plane back to Boston. Leaving 75 degree weather, the beach, and the sun, we returned to a wintry mix and 30 degrees. Training trip was great and sets us up well for our meets the rest of the season.