Jan. 19, 2013
January 17, 2013
Well, today was our last full day here in Honolulu. It's a bit sad to realize the trip is coming to a close, but at the same time, a lot of us are starting to feel ready to get back to the best of the 50 states (even with the highs of minus-8 that are supposed to greet us on Monday). Part of it is a desire to get home, sleep in our own beds, see our friends and family back in Minnesota. Part of it is anticipation of taper and the conclusion of our toughest training block yet this season. But I think most of it is the knowledge that when we fly home, the absolute most exciting part of being a Golden Gopher - performing at Big Tens and NCAAs - is just around the corner.
We've had another strong week of training, hitting the legs especially hard. The IM group tackled the Erik Vendt set this week, and Coach Purdy also called out six or seven swimmers at the end of one practice to swim one of their events at race pace. Andrew Hartbarger swam especially well in his 100 fly. The male sprint group did a set of thirty 50s at 200 pace early in the week, and the sprinters have also been working some power swimming against resistance. The distance group did a set of 100s at mile pace - you had to hit your pace at least 20 times before you could get out. It turned out to be a long morning for one or two guys, but everyone put in really strong efforts and kept fighting throughout the set.
In mid-distance, we've started to work in some more speed training. My favorite set was a set of partner descends. You and a partner swim a bunch of rounds of six 50s, three for each person. But each 50 has to get faster than the previous one. It tests your ability to go fast when you need to, and in the case of some partners (like myself and Josh Hall) how much pressure you want to put on teammates. On the second-to-last repeat, Josh decided it would be "funny" to go all-out and give me a ridiculous time to beat. Swimming breaststroke from a push, Josh went 27.0, the fastest I've ever seen anyone go in practice. Luckily, I was able to keep our descending streak alive by going 27.0 myself, and Josh was forced to say that my 27.0 was probably faster than his, just for the sake of keeping our perfect record alive. I'm sure it physically pained him to say that, but I now have a published record of his quote, which I'm pretty happy about.
If you haven't noticed by now, something we have to spend a lot of time dealing with is our own ultra-competitive natures. Sometimes releasing that competitive energy in a positive way can take interesting forms. The sprinters' van has an ongoing game of "Slug Bug," (spotting Volkswagon Beetles and punching your van-mate in the arm) that's lasted the entire trip. Hrvoje Capan informs me that he leads by a wide margin, 40-something to Jimmy Rafter's 28. Derek Toomey is in the hunt for the silver medal, and Ben Griggs had some lame excuse as to why he isn't winning. I've been told that Greg Norsten has spotted several slug bugs; unfortunately, they have all been a good thirty seconds after someone else already called it. It's ok, he's a freshman. He's got time to learn.
Hrvoje and I have an ongoing battle over which training group spends more time in the water. Tuesday night we finished at roughly the same time and both found ourselves refusing to exit the pool, knowing that whoever got out first would lose the argument for that day.
Wednesday we had a single practice, so we spent the afternoon at Makapu'u, my favorite beach on the island. Makapu'u is surrounded by cliffs, with the smooth, sandy beach flanked by a mountain peak on the right and a looming, rocky island out in the water on the left. It's a beautiful beach, and the waves are great for bodysurfing. This year, though, we spent most of our time discussing the big, important life questions. For example: if you could be any fictional character, who would you be? Unsurprisingly, most of the answers were superheroes. Alex Cisneros choosing Speedy Gonzales might have been the most innovative response.
We spent the evening playing cards on the roof of our condo. I still haven't figured out how she does it, but I know for a fact Amelia Marsh is cheating. There's no way one person is that good at 31.
We seniors have been soaking in our last team Hawaii experience, trying to make the most of the days we've got left. For me personally, I can't remember a training trip I've ever enjoyed more than this one. The "lasts" are always a bit sad, though. Today we made our last trek to the beach at Waikiki. The other night, a group of us walked down to the beach in the evening to take in our last Hawaii sunset. (The women took a few pictures). Earlier this week, we made our last trip to Leonard's, a local bakery that sells the most important Hawaiian delicacy everyone visiting the island needs to try: malasadas. A malasada is a Portuguese doughnut - a ball of fried dough, rolled in sugar, and usually filled with some flavor of custard. Picture a regular doughnut, then picture something so good that it makes that doughnut look like a plate full of broccoli stems by comparison, and now you've got a malasada. They are delicious.
Tomorrow we finish the trip with our famous Goal 50s set which should challenge all of us. It's one of my favorite sets, and it'll be exciting to get the whole men's team together for a group test set one more time before we fly out. I should be back for one more blog to wrap up our last day on the island before we get back home and really set our sights fully on championship meet season. The best is yet to come!
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