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UWRF swimming and dive team returns in tip top shape

February 5, 2009

Long breaks from practice and competition can mean disaster for any athlete’s physical fitness. For the UW-River Falls swimming and diving team, the task of staying in shape over the long winter break was made easier by mixing a little business with pleasure.

Every year the team goes on a winter training trip to stay in shape for the second half of the season. This year the Falcons spent 10 days in sunny Key West, Fla., for their winter training.  To pay for the trip, the team has fundraisers and pay for the rest themselves.

Although a trip to Key West sounds fun and relaxing, it is not all fun and games, Head Coach Bill Henderson said. 

“It’s intense,” Henderson said. “We really work hard.”

While on the trip the team practices twice a day and does dry land exercises in between.

Because individuals pay for a portion of the trip’s expense themselves, it is not required that every member attend. Those members who choose not to go on the trip swim with club teams in their hometown or use the pool on campus.

Senior Rachael Westlund did not join the team on the winter training trip this year, but that did not keep her from staying in shape over break.

“Our coach left us workouts to do,” Westlund said. “Me and a couple other teammates got together everyday to do the workouts over J-Term.”

Henderson said he notices who has and who has not taken care to stay in shape over break.

“There are ways of knowing who has worked hard over break,” Henderson said. 

Among those ways are body composition, endurance and slower times, Henderson said.

The importance of staying in shape is evident as the Falcons returned from their winter training trip on Jan. 21, just two days before the St. Catherine’s Invitational on Jan. 24.

At the Invitational the women placed fourth with 414 points and the men placed second with 504 points.

Henderson said he was happy with the way his swimmers competed.

“Justice was served, which means that people swam the way they should have,” Henderson said.

Two swimmers who performed exceptionally well were junior Anthony Orlando and sophomore Tamra Knight, both of whom were last week’s swimmers of the week. According to the UWRF athletics Web site, Knight swam two season bests at the Invitational with a time of 5:30.38 in the 400 individual medley and 20:54.57 in the 1,650 freestyle. Orlando also had two season bests at the Invitational with a time of 5:02.08 in the 400 individual medley and 19:26.71 in the 1,650 freestyle.

Henderson was especially impressed with the two, both of whom went on the winter training trip to Key West.

“They both had outstanding meets,” Henderson said.

The Falcons’ most recent meet was Jan. 31 at St. Mary’s University.  The women triumphed over St. Mary’s 130 to 111 along with the men who scored 138 points to St. Mary’s 122.

The swimming and diving team has its next competition 6 p.m. Feb. 6 at Hamline University.