December 29, 2009

Today was a day that we all knew would come at some point; our shot at the "A" Hill. It started with a quick team picture and explanation of the task that would be placed before us. We were to run to the top of the "A" Hill that towers over the pool and Sun Devil Stadium. Our ultimate goal time was for everyone to be under 18:00 minutes. For the sake of time, the details are in Greg's previous post. At the end of the run, through a sprained ankle, rugged terrain, and helping every teammate finish, we surprised Greg by beating the time we needed. That meant a ride back to the hotel and a nice morning practice off. From there, the normal mid day activities of eating, sleeping, and hanging out took place. As time rolled around, it was a nice feeling knowing that not only did we have a recovery practice ahead of us, but that we also knocked off 3600 yds from practice due to our hard work. In addition to that, towards the end of practice, Blake took our sandbag and walked along the bottom of the pool, without a breath, and knocked off warm down also.

After practice, the team split off for dinner, with a majority staying close to campus and chowing down at Panda Express, Subway, and other fine ASU establishments. Myself, along with Eric "Los Diablos" Ross, Ben Coder, and Drake found ourselves eating at a local fish and chips place (free bumper stickers for those who go). Once we returned, a group of guys (Bax, Tyler, Isaac, Ortmann, Mike, Blake, Jon, Buck, and myself) ventured to the newly discovered pool hall/climbing wall to shoot some stick (and in Buck's case, getting his climbing fix in for the week). Overall, the entire day was a much earned and needed day in my eyes.

Today, as we began preparing for the meets and conference ahead, something that Greg had said to us earlier in the season began rattling upstairs, making me think about how we are all doing so far this year. After a few meets, Greg has been telling us that yes, there were some great swims, but that we have been kind of missing "that one thing" that makes our team stand out; "that one thing" that defines us as a team. Yea, we lost national-caliber seniors to graduation. We also have young guys coming in that are still getting their feet wet in atmosphere that is college swimming. But I tended to agree with Greg. We have had some eye-opening and feel good swims in the beginning of the year, but we as a team have not truly defined ourselves yet. That is until now. Yes, to other teams, on paper, we look pretty good. On paper, we have had pretty strong swims so far this year. On paper, meets have been a bit closer than in previous years. And yes, to others in our conference, on paper, we may not seem to be as strong of a team as we were last year. But they are dead wrong. We are becoming a team that will open the eyes of those that race us. In the pool during practice, I see a much different team. I see a team that is being forged together through the rigors of both physically and mentally demanding practices. I see a team that has men standing up to challenges and racing anyone who is next to them without even thinking about it. I see a team that is shaping the image that will be conveyed at conference and at nationals. Through this process, you are going to see amazing swims at the end of the year that will surprise not only those who see, but those teams in our conference. The beauty of it all is that our swims will not surprise us. We know what we are capable of. In the end, we are just getting started.

Well it's time for me to hit the hay. Stay tuned for more exciting tales from Training Trip '09-'10.

Take it easy everyone,
>Pat Alfes

P.S. Happy Early New Years To Everyone!



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