The Women’s Swim Team Strengthens Their Bond In Puerto Rico

The Women’s Swim Team Strengthens Their Bond In Puerto Rico

The Women’s Swim Team Strengthens Their Bond In Puerto Rico

“When the team trains in New York they swim in a 25-yard pool, but in Puerto Rico, their training occurs in a 50-yard pool as well as the ocean.” —Brandon Fieland, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations

The John Jay College Women’s swim team embarked on their annual winter-training trip to Puerto Rico—but this was no relaxing getaway. Instead, the 12 women on the team faced a busy week of strenuous training meant to strengthen the team’s bond and each member’s mental and physical stamina. To make the trip a reality the women worked tirelessly from September to January, selling chocolate, baked goods, and apparel, to help fund everything from their airfare to room and board. “This is a team that knows how to make the best out of any situation,” said Brandon Fieland, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations.

The week-long training included team workouts at the beach and in the pool.
The week-long training included team workouts at the beach and in the pool.

“Our coaches told us that this trip was going to be mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging. Now we know what we are capable of with the right kind of encouragement.” —Karina Orellana, freshman

During the trip the team lived in the same house, shared early wake up calls, ate meals together, did yoga, worked out on the beach, and performed community service by cleaning and restoring local beaches. The demanding swim-training sessions gave the women an opportunity to try out new techniques and push their limitations. “When the team trains in New York they swim in a 25-yard pool,” said Fieland, “but in Puerto Rico, their training occurs in a 50-yard pool as well as the ocean. Anyone that has swam in the ocean can tell you, it’s incredibly difficult, mentally challenging, and physically exhausting.” Training in the ocean, and overcoming a fear of the ocean, led to a deeper appreciation for each other among the teammates. “We all stayed together as a team and motivated each other,” said Mavis Ma, a senior on the team. “The fear did not break us apart. It provided us an opportunity to get even closer to each other. We developed more trust through the fear.”

The team in Puerto Rico
The team in Puerto Rico

The annual week-long training session takes place a week before the CUNY Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Championship. The reasoning behind the timing is purposeful. “The strenuous workout helps improve their performance,” said  Fieland. It also helps boost self-confidence. After returning and participating in the CUNYAC Championship, nine of the 12 women on the team achieved a personal best, and the team as a whole improved their times in seven events. “From the beginning our coaches told us that this trip was going to be mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging,” said Karina Orellana, a freshman on the team. “Now we know what we are capable of with the right kind of encouragement.”

To help document their journey, the team filmed scenes from their trip and kept an online journal where each day two members of the team provided details on the day’s training sessions, challenges and triumphs.