Swim Team Hits the Beach


Quinn Salkind, Sports Reporter

As the frigid winter engulfed Walla Walla over break, the men’s and women’s swim teams made their way west to the warm shores of Honolulu, Hawaii. While the trip is part of the team’s annual mid-break training trip, Honolulu presented a divergence from the team’s usual plan to swim under the sun in Southern California’s Claremont McKenna College. With hard work and donations, the team was able to afford the bigger trip to the island of Oahu, which they hope will occur every four years.

In the fall, the team raised money by teaching swim lessons at Whitman’s Harvey Pool. Members of the team spent time teaching one-on-one with children in the Walla Walla community, many of whom were children of Whitman professors.

After the swimmers enjoyed a relaxing first half of break, they flew to Oahu to begin one the hardest parts of their season.

“The training trip really is the peak of our training season,” junior Clark Sun said. “We do more yards than we’ve been doing all year, but we know practices will get easier once it’s over.”

The team had two practices per day: one early in the morning and one at night. With both practices combined, the swimmers were averaging between 10,000 and 12,000 meters of swimming per day.

Photo contributed by Teddy Larkin

“It was a lot of hard work, but being in Hawaii made it that much better because of all the fun we got to have outside of the pool,” Sun said.

“My favorite part of the trip was watching teammates build new friendships while happily suffering through the training,” senior Shanley Miller said. “There’s nothing like pushing your mind and body to accomplish new things while in great, hilarious company.”

In between the strenuous workouts, the team got to enjoy days at the beach and other activities around the island.

“We got a chance to check out the Ala Moana shopping center, the largest outdoor mall in the US, [and] we also had a great beach day cookout hosted by one of the swimmer’s family,” junior Alex Lee said.

One afternoon was spent on a community service project where the team worked to restore a local fishpond.

Photo contributed by Teddy Larkin

“Morning and night trainings were difficult but it was worth it to have fun during our off-hours,” Miller said. “On one of the last days of our trip we travelled to an 800 year-old fish pond and assisted a nonprofit in charge of the pond’s survival. In a little over two hours we moved approximately 10 tons of the coral that was used to cover the top of the fish pond’s wall and established a usable walkway it was rewarding to engage with the island’s local and historic culture.”

Now that the teams have returned to Walla Walla, they have begun to prepare for the rest of the regular season and the Conference Championship meet. Their preparation is typically referred to as a “taper,” which indicates slowly decreasing the yardage and intensity of their workouts leading up to their most important swims. This allows them to maximize their strength and energy, often leading to their fastest swims of the season.

Both teams faced Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound last weekend in their first meets since the Clan Cup Invitational in November. The meet did not go as many had hoped, but the teams are looking forward to facing their rival Whitworth this weekend in final preparation for the Northwest Conference Championship.