BY CAROLINE CRONIN
How the athletes spent their break.
Winter break for Harvard students presents over a month of endless opportunities. Some returned to their corners of the world to revel in the glory of homemade cooking and doting family. Other bright students were abroad studying foreign concepts, working in prestigious employments, or helping those less fortunate than they. With the sprinkling of Harvard students all over the globe during the winter recess, there were also a few specific groups who travelled in the name of athletic excellence.
Team training trips are popular at all levels because they encourage team unity and celebrate dedication while allowing the athletes to continue to work hard and compete well. In addition, what better way is there to work off that extra winter insulation and rid yourself of the sun-deprived pastiness?! This January, the Harvard rowers meandered down to Florida, the polo club ventured to Argentina, the women’ swimming and diving team paddled to Puerto Rico, while their male teammates were just a few strokes away in St. Croix, and the squash team deployed to the Cayman Islands. Each and every one was an adventure and our athletes have returned to us stronger than ever!
The Harvard and Radcliffe rowers spent some time in Florida at the Manatee County Training Facility at Fort Hamer Park. Both the women and men enjoyed rowing on the beautiful Manatee River in the warmth of the Florida sunshine. The trip is an annual one that many rowers have been lucky to experience and many more will as the tradition continues. The training done in Florida maintained the teams’ excellent shape and ensured they would not lose all to the long Boston winters—for it will be quite some time before the Charles thaws!
Venturing south of the equator, the Polo team spent much of January in Argentina. There, only two hours outside of Buenos Aires is the Santa Maria de Lobos Polo Club where the players lived and rode with other Argentine players and some magnificent horses. The Argentine club was founded in part by Harvard alum and polo enthusiast Tommy Lee Jones, and it was he who made it possible for the students to play with and learn from fabulous coaches and experienced professionals. Women’s captain Aemilia Phillips ’16 states the trip was “an incredible opportunity, not only because we got to improve our game playing some of the best horses on a great field, but also because working and living with the team for two weeks gave us more time for team bonding than we ever get during the semester.” The larger outdoor field and increased speed of the play in Argentina has conditioned the team for the upcoming pre-regional USPA tournament to be held at Yale at the end of this month.
In keeping with the warm weather trend, the women’s swimming and diving team took a turn in the waters of Puerto Rico. There, in Mayaguez, the team trained hard with many grueling sets and training sessions. They did not spend the entire trip in the pool or on the board for the team also bonded over time at the beach, learning to surf, and adventures zip-ling through the rain forest. The team returned to compete in many meets for the rest of January, losing only to Duke and tying Princeton in the thrilling HYP meet. The women will head to the Ivy League Championships on February 19th.
The men’s swimming and diving team has also had training trips to Puerto Rico in the past, but this year they trained on the island of St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The men were hosted by the St. Croix Dolphins, and during their training participated in a one-mile sea swim! Well, the magic of those southern waters certainly made a difference for the men did well in all of their January meets and completely swept the Harvard-hosted HYP meet on Saturday. They will compete confidently for the Ivy title one week after the women on February 26th.
The national championship-winning squash team travelled to the Cayman Islands for a week of play and exploration. The team spent their mornings playing and training. The afternoons and evenings were filled with various diversions such as swimming and snorkeling. The team no doubt earned it with hard work and has already gotten quickly back to intercollegiate play. Freshman Alyssa Mehta says, “The trip helped our team train and prepare for the upcoming season. The court conditions were hot so I think everyone felt that their fitness improved. Also everyone on the team was able to grow closer as we got to spend so much time together. We are looking forward to the rest of the season.” The squash teams continue to prepare for the CSA team and individual championships that will take place at the end of the month.
Many sports teams find their official seasons coming to an end soon, and we wish them well in the culmination of this year’s endeavors. We look forward to the beginning of other team’s seasons as well! One thing remains the same—adventures await our student-athletes at every turn!
If after reading this article, one feels some regret over a break spent in the comfort of one’s bed, or the lack of physical exercise becomes glaringly and burdensomely obvious, I remind you do not fret, the groundhog has seen his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter, and that means six more weeks to de-insulate ourselves.
Caroline C. Cronin ’17 (firstname.lastname@example.org) congratulates all athletes on a January well spent!