Hawaii trip hard training rather than easy jaunt

Matt Perkins

During the holiday season, many vacationers travel to warm destinations to escape the harsh winter reality of the Twin Cities.

And that’s exactly what Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team does every year.

Only they aren’t on vacation; they’re “working,” this year in Kona.

“I like to think they take us to Hawaii to get us in a happy place so they can work us hard,” senior Kate Hardt said. “It’s very, very, very intense. We probably do about five hours of exercise every day, including double practices and weightlifting two to three times a week.”

Surrounded by vacationers getting tans on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the Gophers are breaking more than a sweat doing laps and sprints in an Olympic-sized pool.

But it’s not hard work the entire time.

“In between practices, usually it’s just relax, take a nap, lay outside or watch TV,” Hardt said. “Anything to take your mind off the pain.”

It’s been a tradition for the Gophers women to travel to Hawaii for a winter training session, mixing it up every year as to which island they choose.

And there’s a benefit for the coaches in traveling to Kona instead of Honolulu or Maui ” the girls don’t have as many diversions.

“You get away from all of the distractions down there,” coach Kelly Kremer said. “The quality of work is more important than quantity, and we get quality without the boyfriends and other distractions.”

But when they do get the chance to go out shopping or grab some grub, they make the most of it.

Fans and parents of the team members sponsor a meal where they donate enough money to get the girls a fancy dinner together ” also giving the girls an excuse to dress up.

“It’s nice to get some time off with everyone else,” senior Bridget McCoy said, “because it feels like you’re working out all day.”

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team also will travel to Hawaii over winter break, but to compete at the Hawaii Rainbow Invitational on Jan. 6.

The Gophers women always have a competition, but often times it’s against a team of 12-year-old boys. But this year the Gophers will meet up with California-Berkeley, one of the best teams in the country, for a friendly competition.

“It would be fun if we could really compete, like at the Rainbow Invitational or something,” Hardt said, “but I think I’d rather go to Kona.”