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Men’s Swimming: Irish head south for break trip

Maija Gustin | Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Irish head into a mid-season competition break on a high note after placing second in the Hawkeye Invitational. Notre Dame finished behind host Iowa, and team members said they are excited to be ending 2010 with a tremendous team effort at the invitational.

“We have a very optimistic, enthusiastic, committed attitude,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “Our finish carries the momentum forward so that we will want to train hard and be ready to train hard after [the break].”

The team will get a much-deserved break after its hard work this season. After Christmas, the Irish will then head to San Juan, Puerto Rico for 10 days of rigorous winter training.

“This is a critical training period for us between now and once we get back into school,” Welsh said.

San Juan is a vacation destination for most, but not for the Irish. The team will focus solely on training hard and pushing themselves to faster times and better performances.

“I can pretty much guarantee it will be filled with two-a-days and very intense training,” freshman Frank Dyer said. “The focus of the training trip will be to load on training, and then a few weeks after we return, gradually taper down training until Big East.”

While the Irish will spend much of their time working to push themselves into better physical condition, the trip is also important mentally for the entire team.

“Not only does it give us a time where we can focus solely on swimming since there is no schoolwork to worry about, but it is also a time where the team really comes together as a family,” senior Peter Koppel said.

On top of physical and mental fitness for everybody, the focus will be on very specific, technical work. With many opportunities for Irish team members to race at the Invitational, Welsh and his coaching staff were able to pick apart the technical aspects of everyone on the team.

“We had a chance to look at everybody’s best events, sometimes twice a day this weekend,” Welsh said. “We have a list of things for everybody.”

Hard work can be fun, though. While in San Juan, the Irish will have the chance to compete in the Copa Coqui, a meet open to all college teams training in Puerto Rico. The highlight of the meet is the Pineapple Relay, in which the winners get Puerto Rican pineapples as their prize.

“We swam in it last year and it was a lot of fun,” Welsh said.

The Irish head back into competition in January when they head to Northwestern in the first of a series of away dual meets.

“As we move into the second half of the season, the training trip will get us back into tip- top shape as we round out our final dual meets in mid-January,” Dyer said.

They head home after two more away meets for the two-day Shamrock Invitational and are then on to the Big East Championships. Louisville narrowly defeated the Irish at last year’s Championships, but the team is looking to regain the title they won in 2009.

“Having fast swims like we did this weekend always puts the team into a good mood,” Koppel said. “This motivates most of the team to want to get back in the water and finish up these last two months of training well so we can accomplish what we want to in February, which is to become Big East Champions again.”

Though the Irish posted some of their fastest times all year at the Invitational, they are looking to compete even faster in the final months of the season.

“We want to be significantly faster at our Big East meet,” Welsh said. “This was a great building, a crescendo. Our objective is to peak in the middle of February so that we are racing in the NCAAs in March.”