September 24, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers travels to tropical Puerto Rico to train for season

If students heard they were going to Puerto Rico for two weeks during their winter break, odds are most of them would happily accept. 

The Rutgers swimming and diving team’s senior Greta Leberfinger is not one of them.

“I would gladly switch places with any of my friends,” she said. 

The reason was that it was more of a business trip than a vacation for the Scarlet Knights, as they endured intense training sessions.

The practices occurred in a facility with an Olympic-size pool that allowed the Knights to prepare for their future meets and, most importantly, the Big Ten conference meet that is less than a month away.

“The ultimate season plan is to be at our peak level for the Big Ten Conference meet, and this trip helped us in trying to achieve that,” said head coach Phil Spiniello.

The team did celebrate the holidays in late December with their families before the trip, but left for Puerto Rico soon after.

Rutgers’ practice regimen while away was the same as its usual six days of practice a week during the school year, with two-a-day practices so that they remained consistent.

Returning to practice was seamless for the Knights, with the consistent, intense training smoothing the transition as they begin to prep for their next meet in Miami. 

The only difference was not having to deal with the classes and rigors of a regular school day, which made it that much easier for the athletes. 

“It’s different because there are no classes, so you aren’t distracted or stressed out like you usually would be,” Leberfinger said. “We got a lot of good training in. You can focus more on nutrition and recovering and helping yourself improve in the pool.” 

The trip also allowed Rutgers to create a stronger bond among the girls on the team.  

“The most memorable part is that we as a team came more together, spending the trip with no school and just the team,” said junior Joanna Wu. “It was great to have a team that lifts you up. It was a good trip for people to step up as a team.”

The purpose of the trip was to help the athletes improve collectively and individually for future meets.

“It is a trip to focus on getting better,” Leberfinger said. “We are lucky to have the trip. We focus a lot on staying focused. It is fun, but there is a lot of work that has to be done.”

For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter. 

Ryan Moran

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