Oct. 22, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Women's swimming and diving senior, Erin Malone, takes us to San Juan, Puerto Rico to catch up with the Villanova Swimming and Diving team as they train for their upcoming 2012-2013 season.
Blog Entry No. 4:
As athletes, a lot of our time is used to get stronger; physically and mentally. Our week long training camp acts as perfect evidence to the equal importance that each of these qualities plays in making a great athlete. Through the many challenge sets we have faced this week, the extreme temperature and humidity, and grueling land workouts we have pushed our bodies through, it is clear that you can do all the training in the world, but unless your head is in the game, it can truly equate to nothing.
Heading to the pool on Friday afternoon, our bodies were certainly in a state of fatigue (or distress if you will), broken down and tired. But with only two sessions to go before we boarded the plane for Philly, now was not the time to lose focus. So, forgetting our physical states, we turned our attention to the task at hand - six grueling circuit stations manned by each one of our coaching staff, as we strove to improve our physical strength by using every inch of our mental strength.
Going through tough pulling series, on land strength work outs, intense technical overhaul, hypoxic overloading, among other tests of our physical capabilities, we moved through the 72 minute circuit pushing each member of our six groups when times got tough. It is through exercises like these, that we learn that everyone has their own individual strengths and weakness. Yet, it is by complimenting each other's weakness and encouraging each team member when things get difficult that we improve not only our strengths as individuals, but as a team.
Enjoying our final night in the tropics, coaches and athletes all came together for a team dinner in the hotel, sharing stories from not only the week passed, but of our lives outside the pool, reiterating the diversity within our team and the wide range of hopes and aspirations that we all hold in and outside the sporting arena. But no matter, how far our interests and differences spread, Saturday morning was, once again, a time for us to come together to build strength.
As the morning sun glimmered on the waves breaking at the shore, divers and swimmers and coaches came together for a 2-hour beach workout, and final session of this year's training trip. Every exercise we moved through was aimed at building our strength, as we were physically pushed, initially through the heat, through the fatigue, and finally, through the prospect of being entirely covered in sand for the next two hours. We ran up and down the beach, we rolled and crawled belly (and face first for some) through the sand, we formed human `core' caterpillars, and held our partners hand as we ran in and out of the water as fast as we could.
Listing all these exercises, it amazes me at the ability of every single member of our team. But thinking about not what I saw, but what I heard during the two hours, it wasn't lists of exercises, complaints of tiredness, or even grunts and moans. All I heard was laughter, excitement, cheering, and encouragement, as we took in every last moment of our last practice, doing what we love, with the people we love.
As I sit on the plane flying back to Philly, excited at our day of recovery tomorrow, being back in my own bed tonight, and maybe even a trip to Chipotle tonight, I smile. I smile as what is to come in the week ahead, but also at the week that has been. I smile at my mental strength, making every lap of every session (my own personal goal) and giving my best effort all week. I smile at my physical strength that I have improved by pushing my body and giving myself the best chance at becoming a better athlete. But most of all, I smile at what I am a part of - The Villanova Swimming and Diving Team - and the team strength that has grown over the last seven days. Sitting on the plane, we are all stronger individuals, stronger athletes, and best of all, we are a stronger team - and that is the greatest strength of all.