In eight days the team will take it’s annual training trip down to Florida. This is a part of the season that everyone looks forward to for a variety of reasons. There are a number of traditions that we partake in as a team that helps us become closer as as team and start the engine that we will rev through the second half of the year.
One of the best parts of the trip (outside of the great, uninterrupted, training) is the team bonding. The team spends ALL their time together in Florida. They eat together, sleep together, train together, bury each other in the sand, they talk about talking to girls on the beach (I have yet to see it actually happen yet). This bonding brings everyone closer. By spending so much time together outside of the pool, the team learns much more about each individual and strengthen may bonds of friendship. Time spent together on training trip leaves more time to know people that you may not have spent as much time with before the trip and you learn more intimate details about the life of your closest friends. The team chemistry soars off the charts during the trip and can make the team much better for the second half of the season. Any coach will tell you that great success in the pool is much easier to accomplish when the team chemistry is great and everyone respects, likes, and loves each other. Florida helps bring the best of this out in everyone.
We also do a few team meals on the trip as well. All the guys have kitchens in their rooms so they often take turns making meals for each other, or in some cases, take turns pouring everyone bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. On New Year’s Eve we always go out to a team dinner. It’s a great time for everyone to get together and have a good time. Plus most of the guys dress up for it, and you might be surprised, but they clean up well. The coaching staff also goes out to eat with each class individually to spend some time with each class and get to know them better as people, students, swimmers, and everything in between.
Don’t forget about the ocean mile. Always done early in the morning on New Year’s Day, it’s a tradition that I started when I arrived four years ago. We swim from our hotel to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which is exactly 1 mile. It’s a nice refreshing way to wake up, plus it’s fun to see those afraid of the rabid sharks and man eating manatees conquer their fears.
And finally, we started a tradition regarding music in Florida. We travel about 40 minutes a day in the van to and from the pool and get to listen to the delightfully sweet tunes of Fort Lauderdale. During the course of the trip, inevitably there will be a couple song that you hear once a day, that turns into twice a day, and by the end turns into 5 times during a 10 minute van ride. We keep a running count going to see what song comes out on top as the most played. And its’ always fun to guess what song will win. I will reveal my top 5 over the next few days, but for now here are my honorable mentions for most played songs.
10) The Whistle Song – FLO Rida (Mike Nemeth once told me Flo-Rida got his name from the state of Florida. Never would have guessed that!)
9) Don’t Stop the Party – Pitbull (The team wishes that training trip would never end)
8) Diamonds – Rhianna (the team motto is no pressure, no diamonds, so it fits)
7) Some Nights – fun (the entire trip will be full of fun, so who needs them in the top 5)
6) Locked out of Heaven – Bruno Mars (most of the guys would consider the training trip heaven if they didn’t have to practice twice a day)
The top 5 still to come.