February 1, 2011

Training Trip 2010-2011. Where do I start? Well, the beginning is as good a place as any. On the morning of Monday, December 27, my dad and I got up early for the two hour drive to O’hare International Airport. I was flying out of O’hare because all the flights from Indianapolis got in to Phoenix atrociously early, but that’s neither here nor there. So, I get to O’hare, and who should I meet in Check-in, but Carthage’s very own Tom Stowe! I already knew we were on the same flight, but we were apparently on more similar schedule’s than either of us knew. The flight passed without incident. Our seats were apart, and Tom sat with an old woman a few rows behind me while I was stuck with a young, pregnant couple. We got to Phoenix International Airport, looking much the way I had left it nearly a year ago. The other five members of our group were in a different section of the airport so we decided to meet them at the light rail station outside the airport. Once we had assembled: (Tom, Blake, Buck, Tyler, Steven, Scott, Conrad, and myself) we rode the light rail all the way through Tempe (past our hotel from last year) and to the edge of Mesa. Blake called Andrew to inform him of the progress of the final group of swimmers. Andrew told Blake that he and Ben would be waiting for us in Trucks. Trucks?! As in Pick-up Trucks? We all thought he had misspoken. However, sure enough there they were sitting in two rented Pick-ups. I couldn’t stop laughing. As it turned out, there was some kind of mix-up at the rental place and instead of vans we were left with four trucks (driven by Andrew, Ben, Isaac, and Mike) and a crossover (driven by Varner).

Practices were nigh unbearable. The Kino Aquatic Center claimed our blood, sweat, and tears. None were spared. The Weather was horrendous: sleet and snow, blowing every which way. Our cruel taskmasters forced us into the frozen tundra with the crack of the whip…On the bright side, we got to do long course…which is awesome. But seriously, though, training was tough. A lot of people accomplished things that they weren’t able to do before. We got stuff done. We did work.

Aside from that, Arizona was great: A lot of sleeping and eating (no trip to AZ would be complete without a trip to Pete’s Fish and Chips!). Cereal councils (courtesy of yours truly and Connor McCurrie), all-afternoon naps (with the best training trip room ever: Blake Bendix, Ryan Ortmann, Kyle Rasmussen, and me). We went to the Insight Bowl which had the benefit of being, not only, a better played but a better attended game this year thanks, in large part, to the crazy fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes. We spent New Year’s Eve at a place called, Golfland: Basically, a giant castle with Laser Tag, Mini-Golf, Go-Karts, and a Giant Arcade. Adam Glover and I beat Jurassic Park: the Lost World twice (on beginner and expert. Don’t act like you’re not impressed) while most of our teammates made their rounds on the Go-Kart track. Because of our lovable grad assistant’s alma mater, practice on New Year ’s Day was scheduled around the Rose Bowl so he (and the rest of us) could watch TCU beat the Badgers.

A family emergency would force me to leave training trip early this year, but not before experiencing one of the most difficult practices of the year. All five distance swimmers were stuck in one 25 yard lane. The pool we were in was maybe four feet deep, and the sun was right over our heads. We were all struggling against everything: the sun, the water, the practice, each other, and ourselves. The point is we made it through everything. We got it done. I couldn’t have picked a better practice to leave on. After that, I knew that the other Distance guys could handle the rest without me. They didn’t need me to holler after them anymore. We all grew up a little that day. When we left the pool, I remembered to take my equipment with me.

--Eric Ross--



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