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SMC Swimming and Diving: Team changes site of winter training to Ariz.

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Belles are off to Arizona State for their annual winter training trip to focus on swimming without the stress of school. Saint Mary’s will work on team building and both in-water and non-water conditioning at the neutral site from Dec. 28 to Jan 5.

Although the Belles have traditionally done their winter training in Florida, Saint Mary’s coach Mark Benishek decided the team would travel to Arizona this year, partially because of personal contacts at the university and partially for a change of scenery.

“I know they’ve been going down to Sarasota Beach the last four or five years, but the area’s changed a little bit. The pool availability is not quite the most convenient,” Benishek said. “So it’s just looking to try something new for the team and kind of go off on our own foot.

“Last year it was pre-set up when I took the position, so I just want to start a new tradition and see what the area’s like.”

Benishek said the team plans to compete in one scrimmage while it is in Arizona, possibly against Grand Canyon, a Division II program out of Phoenix.

“We had a couple [of schools] on slate, but we just weren’t sure about availability, and we haven’t quite locked this one in yet, but it’s a good possibility,” Benishek said. “We try to have one form of competition when we have these training trips and swim against somebody that you never get to swim against, and this would definitely be the first time swimming against another university like this.”

While a scrimmage is a welcomed break from the month and a half layoff between competitions, Benishek said races are far from the main focus of the trip.

“The trip is not about competition— we will have one smaller competition down there — but it’s mainly about training,” Benishek said. “We’ll have a morning practice and an evening practice, and there’ll be some dry land training as well in there.

“It’s a large focus on heavily training and gearing up for the championship part of the season.”

The second main goal of the trip is building team unity.

“The team is going to be together for a week and a half, and their only focus is going to be eat, sleep and swim for a week straight, and they’re roomed up with their teammates as well,” Benishek said. “When they’re on campus, they go back to their own dorm rooms and they’re apart, but this time of year they’re together all the time.

“That time in between practices, they hang out and hang around the pool or whatever it might be. They really get to know each other on a much deeper level.”

Benishek said the trip will give the team something to look forward to as finals approach.

“Without a doubt, I think they are definitely excited about it. Now that we made it through the Thanksgiving period with those large invites, the focus has definitely changed. Right now there’s a strong focus to finish school up,” Benishek said.

“They’re excited about going home and spending time with family, and then coming back and traveling to some warmer weather. They definitely love it, and it’s a great privilege and opportunity that the university gives us.”

The Belles will train on the Sun Devils’ grounds in Tempe, Ariz. for one week beginning Dec. 2.


Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu