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Gophers utilize winter break for travel

The swimming team went to Hawaii, diving team to Beijing.
CJ Smith swims at the University Aquatic Center against Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 17.
Image by Daily File Photo, Alex Tuthill-Preus
CJ Smith swims at the University Aquatic Center against Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 17.

Instead of staying in Minneapolis’ frigid temperatures over winter break, the Gophers took their annual trip to Honolulu,

Head coach Kelly Kremer said that with an extended break between semesters, it’s nice to travel to a place where his team can be away from distractions.

“You really eliminate all the other distractions that life throws at you outside the pool,” Kremer said. “[One of] the reasons that we chose Hawaii is that it’s predictable in terms of the weather.”

The team started off its training in Hawaii with double practices before splitting the training groups up into the sprinters, mid-distance and distance swimmers, senior Devin Ste. Marie wrote in a blog.

She wrote that in just two days of practice, the distance and mid-distance groups swam more than 50,000 yards.

All of the extensive training paid off when the Gophers competed against the University of Hawaii in competition on Jan. 7.

Both the men’s and women’s teams won their meets with scores of 140-110 and 139-108, respectively.

Kremer said the team performed a little better than anticipated, given the fact that it was tired.

“I think we won 25 of the 28 events,” Kremer said. “From a wins-to-loss standpoint, we obviously had a great meet, but the swimmers were tired. We clearly weren’t at our best, and we didn’t put up times that were mind-numbingly fast.”

Swimming aside, the Gophers also spent time relaxing through sightseeing and touring.

Senior CJ Smith said his most memorable moment from the trip was when the team took a catamaran boat ride out to Turtle Canyon near Waikiki beach.

“We rented a boat for about 49 people and went diving with some sea turtles,” Smith said. “It was just really, really cool to get up close to [the sea turtles].”

Training trip to China

According to NCAA rules, each collegiate sports team can engage in a foreign tour once every four years.

For the 2014-15 season, the men’s and women’s diving team decided to use that opportunity to make a trip to Beijing for training.

The team resided and trained at the Beijing Muxiyuan Sports Technology School, giving it a chance to become acquainted with the Chinese divers from the school.

In a blog written from China, senior diver Katy Etterman said the practice facility consisted of eight trampolines and 13 dry boards — more than the two trampolines and two dry boards that the Gophers are used to.

The team trained for three hours in the morning on dry land and then three hours in the afternoon in water, she wrote.

Sophomore Matt Barnard said the team also took time out of training to visit sites such as the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

In between the tours, he said he really enjoyed the different cultural dishes, such as the Peking duck and chicken’s feet.

“A lot of the food that we were eating were just kind of mystery meats with mystery sauce,” Barnard said. “But we kind of got over that and found it enjoyable.”

Diving coach Wenbo Chen said although the team did not have any competition scheduled in Beijing, he was proud of how well his team trained abroad.

“The [divers] did a great job with training,” Chen said. “As far as I can tell, everybody is getting better physically and getting so much stronger. We got a lot of things done, and I was really happy with the trip.”

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