Jan. 13, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's January edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Being in San Diego for its winter training trip gave the University of Iowa swimming and diving team a spark in training and an opportunity to come together leading into the 2014 championship season.
"These trips allow the student-athletes' sole focus to be on swimming and team-building," said UI head coach Marc Long. "It's an opportunity to get everybody together at the same hotel and in a team-bonding-type atmosphere."
The Hawkeyes departed from Iowa City on Dec. 30 before spending six days in San Diego. The team practiced twice-a-day, while also getting the chance to spend time growing away from the pool.
Senior Gianni Sesto says the theme of the week for the Hawkeyes was accountability.
"The coaches purposely made us look at the little things. It's not always the big picture that counts, but the small steps we take that lead to the big picture. They are things like showing up to practice on time in your suit, or if someone isn't giving full effort on a set (in practice), it's the team's job to make sure they are giving their all. We have to hold each other accountable for the small things to get where we want to."
UI senior Gianni Sesto
"Every set that the coaches made up involved some sort of team camaraderie," said Sesto. "Being in San Diego, there was a different vibe going to the pool every day because we got to swim outside. It was a different atmosphere around the pool deck."
With no cap on practice times during the recess in the team's academic schedule, the team was able to test themselves with sets that require time and dedication.
"We have unlimited training, which opens a lot of doors as to what we can do and the organized time we can spend with the team," Long said. "We had a challenge-type practice, where the team was pushing themselves physically in knockout-style sets.
"It's a set that is difficult to do back home, but because we had unlimited time, great pool access, and a focused team, we were able to have meet-style energy during practice."
At the beach, the Hawkeyes participated in light-hearted team-building activities that involved carrying each other and filling up buckets with ocean water. A group of eight student-athletes also had the opportunity to tour the USS Pasadena, an active nuclear powered submarine. The team closed out the trip with free time at Laguna Beach.
The teams traveled around San Diego in six vans, where Sesto says the Hawkeyes were split to maximize team bonding.
"We were divided and paired with teammates that we weren't around all the time," said Sesto. "There were people in my van that I knew, but I had never really gotten to know.
"For a week, we were together all the time and for the team activities, we had to think and compete on the same wave lengths. In that sense, I think it brought the team closer together."
Sesto says the biggest thing he took away from the trip was the importance of focusing on little things leading up to the big picture.
"The coaches purposely made us look at the little things," Sesto said. "It's not always the big picture that counts, but the small steps we take that lead to the big picture.
"They are things like showing up to practice on time in your suit, or if someone isn't giving full effort on a set (in practice), it's the team's job to make sure they are giving their all. We have to hold each other accountable for the small things to get where we want to."
The Hawkeyes return to action Jan. 18 at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Pool, hosting Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois (women only), beginning at 11 a.m. (CT).