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Men’s Swimming: Winter break trip to Puerto Rico prepares team for Big East

Chris Allen | Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Escaping the frozen South Bend winter for weeks of tropical weather would be good for anyone’s mental state, but for the Irish, their winter break trip to Puerto Rico was essential.

“For one thing, we train outside. When you train outside, in fresh air, it’s a bonus. You’ve got to like that,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “Plus, when there’s a beach nearby, and you can go to the beach between practices, it’s just great. It really facilitates all the hard work.”

The Irish make an annual trip over spring break to jumpstart their training before Big East and NCAA competition, and this year, Puerto Rico was the destination.

“We don’t go to Puerto Rico every year, I think this is our second time,” Welsh said. “But with the dining halls and dorms closed we always go somewhere between the two semesters.”

The trip, which is a favorite among the Irish swimmers, gives the team an opportunity to focus on training with school pressures on the back burner.

“Our goals are twofold — training and competition,” Welsh said. “We go down there to train like crazy. It’s really our last chance to train well with no classes to worry about. We also focus on competing in between the training to see where we’re at.”

While training was certainly the focus of the trip, the Irish were able to demonstrate their abilities in competition as well. A highlight of the trip was the Copa Coqui swim meet, which featured the Army swim team as well as Michigan’s women’s squad.

“The end of the meet was the Pineapple Relays, which they were promoting throughout the day,” Welsh said. “Our guys won the relays and everybody got a pineapple. It was great.”

After returning to campus, and decidedly colder temperatures, the Irish have dropped dual meets to Northwestern, Michigan State and Louisville, but Welsh said he believes it is obvious the training trip did his squad lots of good.

“We’re faster now than before we left, and we’re also faster than we were last year,” Welsh said. “Yes, it definitely helped us.”

Notre Dame will host the Shamrock Invitational Friday and Saturday.