By MIKEY BARNES
The University of Mary Washington men’s and women’s swim teams traveled to Ponce, Puerto Rico for a training trip. The two teams, led by Coach Abby Brethauer, traveled to the U.S. territory on Dec. 31 out of Washington Dulles International Airport.
The swim teams acclimated to the culture rather quickly, as they rang in the New Year with the Puerto Rican locals and spent the evening on the beaches of Puerto Rico watching the fireworks over the water.
However, it was not all rest and relaxation for the student-athletes. While in Ponce, the UMW swimmers held early morning swim practices and would then take the time afterwards to relax in the hotels before practicing again later on that afternoon.
When the Eagles were not swimming, a number of them took the opportunity to explore Ponce. The swimmers participated in activities such as hiking, exploring the rainforest and even swimming in a local waterfall. One night, the UMW swim team even took the opportunity to enjoy the cuisine of downtown Ponce.
The experience of taking a trip to Puerto Rico allowed the UMW swimmers to participate and train under much more difficult circumstances, an opportunity they are deprived of at the smaller Goolrick Gym pool.
Brethauer described the trip as very beneficial since the swimmers were able to participate in intense training while also being able to recover afterward. Since classes were not a worry of theirs during the break, all of the swimmers’ focus was on swimming.
“It was fun. The trip as a whole was a great experience because it brought the team closer together and taught us that if we could survive this, the rest of the season was going to be much easier,” said freshman Bailey Stewart.
The teams returned back to Fredericksburg on Jan. 8 after just over a week in paradise.
Since their return, both the men’s and women’s teams have won both of their meets against Capital Athletic Conference foes Salisbury University and St. Mary’s College (Maryland). These two victories propelled the teams to an impressive record of 6-2 each, while standing 3-0 against the rest of the conference.
“This year was hands down one of the best training trips I have ever been a part of,” said Brethauer. “The kids worked incredibly hard, had amazing attitudes. Based on the work they have put in thus far this semester and the results of the last two meets, I feel very confident that this team is setting themselves up for some pretty special swims at the CAC championships in February, which is the focal point of our season.”
The Eagles were led by senior and NCAA Division III record holder Alex Anderson in their recent competitions. Anderson, a three-time NCAA champion, recently received his third Conference Swimmer of the week award. Women’s junior Hannah Hagy has received two conference swimmer of the week awards herself this season.
Anderson, Hagy and the entire UMW swim program will be back in action Saturday, Jan. 24, competing in an outer conference meet against Gettysburg College at home. The Eagles competed at Gettysburg earlier in December in the Gettysburg Invitational, where both teams finished second behind their host.