Sunshine State Swimming: Winter Training With Less Travels

Lauren Reynolds

By Abby Boone, Swimming World College Intern

Around this time of year, the Sunshine State swimming teams stand out for an unusual reason. Unlike most NCAA teams, who are packing for a winter travel trip to a warmer destination, SSC teams are already in the place many teams choose to travel.

With all seven SSC swim teams already in Florida, there isn’t anywhere much warmer for them to go, and most teams choose to stay home, hosting a meet against a traveling team.

Florida Southern College head coach Duncan Sherrard likes staying home because it is what his swimmers are most comfortable with. He enjoys being at a pool where he knows where everything is, especially as the team begins to taper for the conference meet.

“We have always had a meet [during winter break] so I think our kids have an advantage because they are in their beds while the other team is in hotel beds. I think it helps our kids be better rested.”

Additionally, being on campus allows the team to volunteer and participate in activities in the area, instead of just swimming and spending time at a hotel. They can focus on the community as well as their swimming. Florida Southern swimmers do this by volunteering to help at city winter events such as Snowfest or Lights Over Lakeland. Rollins College swimmers spend their time on campus volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House.

Paul Mangen, head coach at St. Leo University, chooses to take his team to Key Largo for the Orange Bowl Classic, where his swimmers compete against NCAA DI teams such as West Virginia, Michigan and George Mason. He chooses the meet against bigger teams so that it can highlight what his swimmers still need to focus on.

“We benefit racing DI programs as it shows very clearly where our weaknesses are, but also gives us top level competition to gauge our competitive positioning. We will be in a training phase with an aerobic and muscle endurance focus so this sets up our competition phase quite well.”

Although Mangen likes staying on campus, he thinks the trip is very important for his swimmers.

“Training trips are a part of swim culture no matter where you come from. We don’t train any differently than we would if we were at Saint Leo University, we just have an opportunity to do it at a unique setting. We know the trip facilitates a memorable college experience, added team bonding, logistical training for both the coaching staff and the team, as well as a unique training site as we will train both 50M long course and 25M short course.”

Travel adds different memories, while simultaneously allowing the team a preview of what staying in a hotel will be like for conference championships and the national meet. Whether SSC teams choose to stay on campus or not, they do stay in Florida, which is clearly the travel destination for many teams across the country.

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