Greetings from Puerto Rico!

Men's Swimming, Diving And Blogging: Winter Training Trip

The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team is off to Puerto Rico for the program’s annual winter training trip. The team’s seniors and head coach Tim Welsh will be keeping the Irish faithful in tune with daily blog entries from the moment of the team’s arrival on the island to just before the first meet of the New Year at Louisville on Jan. 10.

Check back to for the latest from the Irish including plenty of stories, laughs, updates and winter training experiences.

Winter Training Photo Gallery

Dec. 29, 2008
Bill Bauman (Erie, Pa. / Cathedral) – Senior

Last day of training in South Bend then off to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico …

After loading up on a scrumptious walnut salad, an assortment of Italian delicacies, and an ice cream bar that could even satisfy Bob (Andrew Hoffman, a.k.a. Butters) the Irish thanked the family of Danny Lutkus after a dinner at their Granger (Ind.) home and took their goodie bags back to the Waterford Estates to dream of 80 degree weather, Linus rocking muscle shirts, and sea lice.

Dec. 30, 2008
Alan George – Assistant Sports Information Director, Men’s Swimming

We’ve arrived!

Nearly 12 hours after leaving campus the team is safe and sound in its hotel, El Canario by the Lagoon, in San Juan, Puerto Rico … the team assembled at 4:30 a.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center this morning for departure … our 8:30 a.m. (CT) flight from Chicago touched down in San Juan at 3:05 p.m. (AT) … the travel party of 56 – including student-athletes, staff and family – has meandered in three time zones today (Eastern – South Bend, Central – Chicago, and Atlantic – San Jose) … the hotel is nestled between a quaint lagoon and a scenic Atlantic Ocean beach … it is a comfortable 80 degrees here with few clouds in the sky … since stepping off the plane, the soothing chimes of salsa music have constantly been no more than an earshot away … decked out in business casual attire with Notre Dame fleeces, we’ve already been asked several times if we were part of the Irish football or basketball teams by inquiring travelers … this is the third time in recent history that the program has ventured outside of the continental United States for a winter training session … the Irish have previously spent extended time in Ireland (2004) and Brazil (1997) … dinner will be served beachside this evening, giving enough time for a stroll through the warm sand and a solid night’s sleep before tomorrow’s 5:30 a.m. wake-up call for the first of 17 practices.


Bill Bauman (Erie, Pa. / Cathedral) – Senior

“Are we there yet” – Sophomore Patrick Augustyn

Champions united at 4:30 a.m. outside Rolfs Aquatic Center for a full day of travel. Rolling 54 deep on a 56 passenger bus, the Irish double checked that they had their per diem and were off to Chi-town a shade after 5 a.m.

There was no movie shown on this bus ride, as Vision Quest was unavailable for everyone’s viewing pleasure, and Pistol Whipped starring Steven Seagal was too much action for the mixed audience. The Irish crop dusted their ground on the Boeing 757 – this ride included a pirated copy of the American Airlines safety video along with full takeoff and landing commentary from Patrick, son of George Augustyn (legendary 219 videographer). The movie offered on this flight was Journey to the Center of the Earth starring B-list actor Brendan Frasier. Few dedicated an hour-plus to this blockbuster, and most opted for additional rest or SkyMall perusing.

After a flight that offered double beverage service and no food, the Irish made it to Puerto Rico lean and hungry. Once the bags were retrieved with no lost luggage, the team confirmed travel plans with tour guide, Sasha, and split onto two Grey Line buses – the buses were cooled to the team’s liking and lined with taxi cab air fresheners to keep out man stink. Waiting nearly 15 minutes for the women divers to arrive (they had taken another flight to San Juan from Chicago) the men’s team found the local scenery and social landscape to be rated near a 9 (out of 10) for occupying this dead time.

A short ride through the barrio gave freshman, Juice (Brian Maloy), a chance to witness culture outside upstate New York and recent 4.0 recipient, Jonathan Whitcomb, a chance to translate the local billboards.

After our bus drivers ‘MacGyver-ed’ their way down the back alley we found El Canario by the Lagoon Hotel, or for those of you that don’t habla espanol, “The Canario by the Lagoon.” The El-Canar, as the kids call it, is gently tucked behind other skyscraper hotels such as the Renaissance, the Marriott, and the Holiday Inn Express, although the El-Canar cannot offer picturesque views of the lagoon or the sea, it can offer one thing that is lost in new hotels: one metal key for your room. Once everyone was settled in their cuartos much of the team broke out the pigskin and took their beach bods to the playa. After a short session in the gnarly waves everyone cleaned up and walked to Wakiki for an oceanfront buffet – pork chops, noodles with broccoli, jambalaya, and french fries re-energized the forces.

The Irish will be back to training with two sessions in the pool tomorrow and getting our swell on in the weight room following the afternoon swim.

Dec. 31, 2008
Bill Bauman (Erie, Pa. / Cathedral) – Senior

The swim team awoke to a phone call from head coach Tim Welsh around 5:05 a.m. with his signature “Good morning, Irish.” Welsh informed the team that the bus would leave for practice at 5:30.


El natatorio (the natatorium)



Putting on our finest mesh shorts and cut offs we marched to the Grey Line bus with equipment bags in hand. The team was surprised by Sasha, our tour guide, who came bearing food. Senior manager, Mike “Randy” Mashura, and former swimmer extraordinaire and current student coach, Jace Hopper, dispersed this breakfast of champions to the bus. To drink was the choice of orange juice and milk and to eat – donuts, donut holes, blueberry muffins, cinnamon bread, and the fan favorite, cornbread muffins.

Getting wired on powdered sugar the team reached the natatorium, which we will call home for the next eight days. The pool is covered by a roof but is open on the non-bleacher sides … because of the open-air configuration the local birds have inhabited the rafters of the pool and are taking aim on helpless swimmers – senior captain, Mitchell Sherman, and proud Pennsylvanian, John Lytle, were both attacked during practice by falling nests and bird droppings. I was fortunate enough to withhold the protection of my lane-mate, Daniel Rave, who actually sports a tattoo of a raven and also speaks 45 dialects of bird.

When practice ended the team made friends with the other women’s teams that were waiting to enter the pool (Iowa State, Marist and Concordia are also training here) and a nice gentleman that went by the name of Mr. Snuffleupagus. Ready to do work on the Wakiki buffet, the team hit the Grey Line and was off, and awaiting us was a solid lineup of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, fruit and Burger King French toast sticks. Towards the end of breakfast the sun was getting hot and the beach was calling the Irish speedos, about half of the team hit the beach to bronze while others couldn’t resist the comfort of an El Canar bed. Those who stuck to the beach took advantage of the three foot swells to get in some body surfing. This could not have been possible without David “Tater” Anderson fending off great white sharks from 100 yards off the coast. Although this was an unguarded beach and no beach rules were posted, it was evident that chicken fights, rafts, white whale watching, and bathing suits of any nature were all welcome. The team used per diem for lunch – most either had a classic cold cut combo from Subway or double stacks and frosties from Wendy’s – and for those who are considering a trip to Puerto Rico and enjoy Subway’s $5 foot long options, they have a similar deal down here: it’s called the $5 half-foot long.

The team again assembled for a smooth trip on the G-Line back to the natatorium. This practice did see the first injury of the trip. Marshall Sherman was a little pumped up after his training trip orientation and took a spill on a routine dive into the pool. After another grueling practice we were informed that we could not get our swell on because the gym was closed for a World’s Strongest Man qualifier, so we were off to the beach for an epic dry land session.


Beach lunges



Bearing Speedos and a smile the team marched onto the beach only stopping to answer such questions as “Are you guys from Boston?”, “Where is Notre Dame?” and “Habla Espanol?” Once on the beach the team was split into six groups. By the time our dryland workout competition had begun, quite a crowd had assembled: curious spectators, ladies taking picture from their nearby hotel balcony, and locals snapping shots with their cell phones. Our “physical challenges” included wheelbarrow crawls, seaside squats, and danger pushups. Taking home the victory and representing all four classes was the team of Bauman, Hoffman, Sullivan and Belecanech, but no one left without a suit full of sand.

Following a shower and another meal at Wakiki that featured a nice bean dish, the full entourage met in for a quick rundown of the scheduling for the next few days.

Jan. 1, 2009
Danny Lutkus (Granger, Ind. / Penn) – Senior

New Year’s Day was an incredibly uneventful day for the Irish except for the four hours of swimming and a half-hour run. This was mostly do to the fact that San Juan was on the brink of revolution the previous night and their New Year’s celebrations sound like an intense and prolonged fire fight. I know I was awoken multiple times by a cannon and exploding dynamite. To make things better, people were still rolling out of the hotel/casino across the street from us as we boarded the bus for practice at 5:30 a.m. In no way did this make any of us bitter (sarcasm is difficult to read).

Because of the lack of sleep the previous night, many of the Irish chose naps over beach activities during the day except for the few champions including myself, Dudley, Andrew “Bob” Hoffman, and “Hair” Daniel Rave.

Practices, on the other hand, have begun to heat up. I can’t really speak for the distance or sprint groups (and wouldn’t want to) but the middle distance group is rollin’. Despite Colin Francesco getting upset because Patrick Augustyn was “all up in his space” on a pull set, spirits have been high and times have been fast. Head coach Tim Welsh has been writing some great (read: not easy) sets.

Looking to the future, we have one practice tomorrow and then an excursion into the jungle. Rave will be hugging as many trees as possible. Volunteer assistant coach Josh Skube is currently memorizing all of the lyrics to the Guns N’ Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle” for timely jokes and quotes.

I think we’re all training ridiculously well and I know that all this work will become increasingly dangerous at BIG EAST Conference Championships in February.

Jan. 2, 2009
Michael Bulfin (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / St. Thomas Aquinas) – Senior

The Day The Boards Stood Still
Today was the third day of practice and the second of the New Year, and once again the diving team got an extra two and a half hours of beauty sleep over the swimmers.

The day began with a 7:30 a.m. conditioning set. In case you were wondering, our


Dryland training for divers



conditioning consists of stretching, backflips and an abdominal workout. I would say that Eric Lex won conditioning today. He is inspired by his New Year’s resolution to see an abdominal muscle in 2009.

We had a great San Juan breakfast and then headed to the natatorium. The victory from the dryland session did not carry over into the pool for Eric “Gumby” Lex. He was outmatched by Nathan Geary. As Nate tore up the boards for a third consecutive day Eric was plagued with a case of bellyflops. The other divers and I are still getting used to the pool and the boards, but are training very hard. Sean Rademaker has been showcasing some new dives that he learned earlier in the


One of the hundreds of backflips performed by the divers on the day



season and is coming along great. Caleb Dunnichey, Wes Villafor and myself had a successful practice today, but nothing to spectacular to mention. Caleb is bouncing back well from a tricep injury and is working hard on his 3-meter, which he has been sitting out due to injury. Don’t worry fans – he will be great for the meets coming up later this year.

We did, however, dive alongside one of Russia’s silver medalists from the 2008 Olympics. She showed us how to enter the water without a splash and we showed her Caleb’s ability to talk without end through an entire practice. Wes has been working on his come-outs and is making great improvements. This was our only practice today and the other teams told us they would miss our entertainment.

Then we were off to the rain forest! The buses departed from our beach resort at 1:00 p.m. and headed out. Our guided tour consisted of tours through the waterfalls and canopied forest. Although wildlife was rare on this tour there were great views of the islands and informative lectures from our tour guides. At the end of the trip we stopped at a small Puerto Rican house/restaurant for some authentic food. The food ranged from shish kabob’s to fried green bananas stuffed with crab meat. I thought the meals were great, however, they did not sit well with Nathan. Although he complained about how bad his stomach felt, he managed to put down a big plate of Puerto Rican spaghetti and meatballs and dinner later that night.


Notre Dame men’s divers



The training has been going very well the past three days, and today was the only day that head coach Caiming Xie planned on “letting up” on us. The plan for the rest of the trip looks intense. However, we know not to blink, but don’t worry – not even Caiming, the Grand Master from China, can keep us from having fun.

Over the past three years, the training trip has been the time that our dives have come together and really gets us geared for the rest of the season. The team looks great and I have high hopes for us at the end of the year.

Feel free to email us and let us know how life back home is. So far only I have only received our professor Carl Ackerman’s version, and I think he is living in a different world.

Happy New Year from the men’s diving team!


Alan George – Assistant Sports Information Director, Men’s Swimming

The phrase of the day: “good looking.”

With just one practice scheduled for today, the travel party assembled after lunch to head inland for a scope of the rain forest … one bus was lucky enough to be under the auspices of tour guide Mike, otherwise known as Good Looking, as noted on his name tag … not only was Good Looking his name, it was embedded in every aspect of his repertoire – he referred to everything and everyone as “good looking” … “let me tell you something, good looking” … “there was this one time, good looking, that it rained for 10 days straight” … “I drive Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan and all the other celebrities around when they come to Puerto Rico, good looking” … Mike was born in Puerto Rico but moved to New Jersey where he was a truck driver for several years … he shared with us his passion for all things Puerto Rico, which in his opinion were the greatest the world had to offer: athletes, prescription drug manufacturing facilities, music, unemployment rate (two percent!) and beaches … the group headed to El Yunque National Forest with tour guides in tow … the park is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System … while the group was soaking in the rich environment, another occasion of historical proportions was taking place in San Juan … Luis Fortuno, who defeated an incumbent tainted by federal corruption charges in November, took the oath of office as Puerto Rico’s new governor … guests attending the ceremony included Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, actress Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony, and reggaeton star Daddy Yankee … police presence and security was at an extremely high level, as cops were posted at each street corner throughout the day … Fortuno is the president of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico and a member of the United States Republican Party … he was the first Republican to be elected Governor of Puerto Rico since 1969, and the second Republican governor since 1949.

Jan. 3, 2009
Jace Hopper (Las Vegas, Nev. / The Meadows) – Senior

As of this afternoon we are officially halfway done with our training … but no one is counting, I promise! We have had an excellent trip up to this point and although many of the guys are extremely tired, head coach Tim Welsh continues to unveil his “get your bones ready” sets. Associate head coach Matt Tallman is still showing no mercy for the distance and sprint groups, and volunteer assistant coach Josh Skube is still providing the GPS (yes, a global positioning system) for our ever so unfamiliar dryland run training that is led by our very own Marshall “Viper” Sherman.

During the morning our freshmen “veterinarian” Kevin Rahill provided CPR and lifted a bird from near certain death after it had decided to “drop in” and try-out for the team. As Coach Welsh stated, “he had potential, he just could not go the distance.” Needless to say, Rahill did not finish near the top of his class and the bird passed away during the resuscitation process. Rest in peace.

This morning was our first non-sunny day of the trip and, after a very tough morning session for all the groups, the guys were very upset as it continued to rain throughout the day. Some members of the team were not phased by this uncommon weather and ventured out into rough seas looking to catch some waves although the “perfect storm” had arrived upon us. Waves were coming in from all directions and were causing rather larger waves than we were used to.

Mike “Randy” Mashura, Patrick Augustyn and myself decided that we would take the day to rest from the seas and venture into Old San Juan. After a 20-30 minute wait for a bus that did not exist and a very interesting conversation with a bike riding hippie, we decided to fork over the few extra dollars from our per diem to jump in a cab. Our cab driver pointed out many of the local hot spots, monuments and cultural establishments. Patrick was quite interested in going to these places and decided to come back at a later time to witness the history. We ended up going to a very old fort, El Morro, that is over 500 years old which capped off a great trip. Patrick made sure the lighting was just right in all areas of the fort while he continued to film a blockbuster movie for our trip. Old San Juan was definitely worth visiting and many more guys are heading to this area later in our trip.

Practice in the afternoon was another great one, as Coach Welsh and I found some new life in the kicking abilities of Andrew “Butters” Hoffman. He will soon fall into the kicking ranks of the great MacKenzie LeBlanc – one day, Butters, one day.

To wrap it up, all continues to be very well in the city of San Juan. We are all enjoying ourselves and working extremely hard. I have extremely high hopes for all of the guys through these next couple of months leading up to BIG EAST Conference Championships and NCAAs. Halfway done and so much more to go (only seven for those who are counting).

Keep it up, men.


Alan George – Assistant Sports Information Director, Men’s Swimming

Although the temperature steadied around 80 degrees again today, we had our first bout with the elements … rain hit during the afternoon practice, a steady downpour that lasted a mere 15 minutes … it did, however, help clear an overcast sky to lead way for a somewhat sunny Saturday … the team took advantage of some “killer” waves on the beach this morning according to David Anderson, who went on to say that the ripples reached heights of “at least 10 or 15 feet” … a few members of the travel party took a taxi into Old San Juan to tour El Morro, a fort built by the Spanish in 1589 … it is one of the most recognizable attractions on the island and a tourist favorite … the Illinois women’s swim team is also training down here … part of their extracurricular activities includes a scavenger hunt, which necessitates a photo with head coach Tim Welsh … several swimmers have already sought him out at the team’s hotel (which is located a few miles from that of the Illini) and on the pool deck.

Jan. 4, 2009
Daniel Rave (Hanover, Germany / Humboldtschule) – Senior

Hello, or hola how they say in the native tongue of this wonderful island. Another day of camp, another “good morning, Irish” phone call at 5 a.m. from head coach Tim Welsh. After a delicious first breakfast at the El Canario, we headed off to the pool for our first workout. Halfway to the bus I was met by a wandering, shirt and shoeless Joshua “Linus” Nosal, brother of Sarah Marie Nosal, who seemed to have lost orientation due to sickness (presumably stemming from eating leaves on our recent trip to the rain forest).

Arriving at el natatorio we were greeted by fellow rec sport enthusiasts who brought news that the gates to the watery adventure world were locked. It seems that the gatekeeper decided to stay in after spending the previous night partying with Brian “Juices” Malloy’s favorite D.J., D.J. Tiesto, who had a concert in the neighboring track stadium the preceding night. This also explained the few scattered people sporting glow sticks that were still roaming the premises of the sports complex. After a half hour of waiting that was spent by stretching or sleeping, we were finally allowed entrance into the pool.


The Irish seniors mug for the camera in front of a sweet waterfall



A few words regarding the pool itself: it is relatively new and has a 10-lane, 50m pool as well as a diving well that also includes an eight-lane, 25m pool. It is a nice facility, but has one major problem – the water is freeeeezing cold. If the water temperature dropped a few degrees we would be ice skating instead of swimming. If you want to know how it feels, just put on a speedo and walk around outside for a while on a South Bend winter morning. You will surly enjoy this experience. The blue skin of the swimmers resulting from the cold water could make people believe that Papa Smurf can not be too far away.

After the workouts are over some time is spent in the facility’s on-deck hot tub to raise core temperatures back to normal levels. However, the de-thawing process is cut short most mornings by associate head coach Matt Tallman, who wants to get to the Waikiki for breakfast. Following the usual servings of eggs, pancakes and your choice of breakfast meat, some people decided to go to church while others enjoyed the beach and/or their bed for a snoozy.

With the second workout waiting ahead for us, we climbed on the bus eager to practice again in the ice desert also known locally as “a pool”. The workout was highlighted by volunteer assistant coach Josh Skube, father of “big trouble” Addison and Ivy, who decided to workout by running next to his distance swimmers while they were doing 50s. Rumor has it that he wanted to take his shirt off, but he did not follow through, much to the dismay of the female population present on the pool deck. At the end of practice, Danny “Gomer” Lutkus, decided to show off his manliness by disturbing divers during their practice and jump of the 10m high dive. Others made the climb up to the platform as well but chose not to jump out of respect for Danny’s perfect 10.

Since no lifting or running activity was planned for the day, the bus picked us up after swimming to return to our cozy accommodations. On the bus Coach Welsh


Bill Bauman joins Daniel Rave along with Ivy and Addison Skube



informed us about tomorrow’s plans, which includes a 7:30 a.m. wake-up call. This will lead to us missing our first sun rise of the trip, although it was heard that senior captain Bill “Daddy” Bauman will get up early in order to not miss this spectacle of nature. Following the late wake-up is a lift in the pool’s own weight room that is frequently used by people who carry duffle bags one-handed in some distance to their body to show their toughness and strength. The athletic part of the day will conclude with a meet against La Salle University and the Salukis of Southern Illinois. After that we are off to the final four (or, perhaps, the frozen four, considering the pool’s temperature) practices of the trip.

On another note, I was given word that former swimmer Tim Kegelman (’07) is an avid reader of this blog and enjoys our daily anecdotes. I want to uses this chance to send our greetings to all former swimmers and divers who read this blog … we appreciate your interest and continued support.

Peace & love,
The Raven

Jan. 5, 2009
Jeff Wood (Fairport, N.Y. / Fairport) – Senior

I’ve always thought of swimming as an individual sport and on the surface it appears to be just that. Consider the racing environment; one swimmer, one lane, each athlete swimming their own race with their own race tactics and strategies. But it is here in the frigid waters of Puerto Rico that this “individual sport” becomes completely wrapped inside a team environment.

It is during this week and a half in Puerto Rico that this group of Notre Dame swimmers begins to appreciate the process of becoming a team. During our daily workouts the hierarchies within this group dissolve and we develop a group cohesiveness that is not distinguished or limited by the year in which we reside in school. It becomes realized that together we are able to achieve greater results than each of us as individuals would have been able to achieve alone.

Personally, I realized this New Year’s day during our afternoon workout. In the morning session, head coach Tim Welsh pounded us with over 3,000 meters of backstroke and in the afternoon session he showed little signs of letting up, as he presented us with 24-50’s, best-average stroke on 1:30. I remember being about 10 50’s deep during this set and wanting to give up because my shoulders and forearms were in serious pain, and it seemed easier at the time to give up. However, freshman Colin Francesco got in my ear with some encouragement and then senior Bill Bauman and a few others started to add some chatter and it was then that I was able to regain my mental strength over the set and finish strong. It was amazing to have both Colin and Bill encouraging everyone because it showed me that regardless of age or class, the guys on the squad were all focused on achieving results for this team. I am confident that without those individuals chattering on the walls between cycles that the results of that set would have been vastly different.

Although this is only one small example, it’s extremely important because it shows that this Notre Dame team is beginning the process it takes to achieve results that are greater than those achieved in the past. And it is here that the opportunity to achieve our individual goals becomes greatly enhanced because we continue to support the goals of other members of the team, and that support system allows us to achieve more than the individual alone can.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Wood


Alan George – Assistant Sports Information Director, Men’s Swimming

The infamous “good morning, Irish” wake-up call from head coach Tim Welsh came nearly two hours later than normal, around 7:30ish. This was not due to the fact that he is the roommate of yours truly, but today’s schedule was altered for the lone competition of the training trip.

But then again, what’s a training trip without a day of training?

Following another first-class Wakiki breakfast, the team pounded the weight room of El Natatorio in dominating fashion. (Note to Notre Dame strength and conditioning staff: the men’s swimming team enjoys lifting weights in an environment littered with Christmas decorations and salsa music blaring from all directions.) Associate head coach Matt Tallman was also seen breaking a light sweat, but it has not yet been confirmed if it was the result of a legitimate workout or from barking motivational phrases.

A “lighter” pool session was executed with a brief period of recovery before an impromptu long-course meet with Southern Illinois and La Salle. Although formal results are not yet available, the Irish finished at – or among – the top of the pack in each of the nine races. Without the Colorado Time Systems that are utilized during formal meets, results were clocked by stopwatch and handwritten. The role of starter was mastered by Coach Welsh, who utilized his call of “take your mark…beeeeeep” to perfection. Amazingly, there were no false starts – just plenty of solid swims across the board.

Jan. 6, 2009
Bill Bauman (Erie, Pa. / Cathedral) – Senior

Coming off a meet day with the afternoon free for some fun in the sun with the Illinois women’s team, the Irish were looking for a bit of inspiration to circle the wagons and it came at 5:04 a.m. with a “good morning, Irish, happy Three King’s Day.” As we learned on the rain forest tour from our guide (remember Good Looking?), the Puerto Ricans don’t just celebrate the traditional American holidays like Groundhog’s Day and Flag Day, but they have twice as many holidays as us – one being Three King’s Day.

Sporting a collection of flesh beards, we were off to the pool at the usual 5:30 a.m. mark with our practice time in the hands of the gatekeeper. Despite the gifts of gold, frankincense and mir placed at the gates, they were already open and the pool was awaiting the Irish. While head coach Tim Welsh netted the ice formations off the surface of the pool the team made its traditional exit from the locker room with surprising swagger. I can only attribute this to the top 40 hit “Single Ladies” by Beyonce that was booming over the Puerto Rican radio station. The team took this energy into the pool to conquer the frigid water fit for polar bear club training.

After building up the appetite of a king (or three) we were off to Waikiki for the traditional breakfast, but not without a good laugh from Josh “Linus” Nosal, as he dropped his bag while the entire bus awaited his arrival.

As we soon learned, most people do not work on Three King’s Day. This was evident by the lack of chefs working and the food that was clearly prepared last night and reheated five minutes before our Gray Line bus rolled up. After searching the abandoned streets for some additional nourishment, Mitchell Sherman and I could only find one thing that would suffice – Little Debbie products.

With overcast skies and a tough practice ahead most of the team went back to El Canar for a solid nap. Back at El Canar there was your traditional holiday entertainment: infomercials for Snuggies blankets, ShamWow, and magicJack, not to mention the Spanish versions of the Ronco Meat Rotisserie and Magic Bullet. Although this was exciting, the afternoon was topped off with the appearance of Lil’ Wayne on the ESPN talk show, First Take.

Back at the natatorium for afternoon practice, the sprint group was in the 25 meter pool while distance and mid-distance men were in the 50 meter pool (or as Daniel Rave has dubbed it, “big boy ice”.) With another swim session down we were off to the track for dry land with volunteer assistant coach Josh “Major Pain” Skube, who was decked out in a Notre Dame swimming cutoff shirt and camo shorts. Some members of the team have experienced injuries that prohibited their dryland participation: Danny Lutkus came up lame after losing a shoe on a 40 yard dash and Mitchell Sherman was nursing a bum knee – also of note was one of the slowest two-lap performances in Puerto Rican history … Joshua Nosal, who was still attending to his upset digestive system after playing with a rabid mongoose in the rain forest, seemed to have lost the use of his arms while running around the track

After sweating out the saturated fat from the Swiss cake rolls and oatmeal cream pies we were off to Waikiki for another bout with a Three King’s Day meal. With mixed reviews on the beef stew some guys were back to the sure thing in a Wendy’s frosty and double stacks to reload for tomorrow’s final day of training in Puerto Rico.

With my last blog entry I would like to thank all the fans, families and swimmers – both past and future – that have kept up with us. Special thanks go out to super fans Paul “Zamu” Kuppich, Mary Z., and our retired brethren David Cavadini. Thanks for the support!

Billy B.


Alan George – Assistant Sports Information Director, Men’s Swimming

When hungry in San Juan, there are a number of restaurants along the Condado strip to choose from … countless ethnicities are represented, with Chinese, Italian, Puerto Rican, Mexican and your standard fast food chains all within walking distance of each other … many members of the group opt for the junior bacon cheeseburgers at Wendy’s or the soup and salad at Chili’s when the Wakiki family-style buffet isn’t doing the trick … for breakfast, the egg and cheese mountain served with toast of the Texas variety is available at the 24-hour mini mart across the street from La Concha … this early morning platter must be consumed with a sizeable portion of chocolate milk to start the day off right … Mike & Charlie’s, an Italian joint, is always packed when the group walks by during the trek to Wakiki … anything on the menu is well worth the reasonable price … senior Jeff Wood claims the pizza there is second to none … “and I’m from New York,” he adds … after downing a couple of supreme slices the other day, I can not argue with him … today’s lunch time conversations regarded yesterday’s “class night” … each class went to a different restaurant for a meal that has become an Irish tradition during the winter training trip … while one class elected to go to Pizza Hut, a large contingency ventured into Old San Juan to battle the crowds deployed from the handful of recently docked cruise ships … while it may have resembled a scene direct from Gringos In Mananaland, the consensus was that Old San Juan is “el mejor” when it comes to shopping, eating, sight-seeing and dancing, according to Michael Bulfin … congratulations to the Notre Dame men’s basketball team for defeating Georgetown last night … the game was shown on almost every television in the city … we will be celebrating the Epiphany, or Three King’s Day, in local style tonight as the Rosca de Reyes will be shared at various locations … this is a type of pastry which includes a doll of baby Jesus or the Three Kings baked into the dessert … on a more important note, head coach Tim Welsh said both of today’s workouts were quite exceptional … “we’re going 4-for-4 on these last workouts,” Welsh said.

Jan. 10, 2009
Head coach Tim Welsh

And so, the final leg of the trip home begins … it was raining when we woke up in Louisville today; it was raining Thursday morning too, when we woke up in San Juan to begin our journey home. In San Juan, the temperature was in the 70’s; this morning, in Louisville, the temperature is in the 30’s. By the time we get back to South Bend tonight, the temperature will be in the 20’s and there will be snow – over a foot we are told. Welcome home, and welcome back to winter reality in South Bend, Irish.

We arrived here in Louisville on Thursday evening, after nearly 12 hours of travel from our Puerto Rican home at El Canario By the Lagoon. Five full hours in the air from San Juan to Dallas (who knew?), and another hour and a half from Dallas to Louisville. Tight quarters for tall men with long legs, who are used to moving around a lot. So, yes, we were tight and sore when we began the first of our two practices on Friday. Thanks to Louisville’s hospitality, we did get in two practices on Friday … and did it in time for both Louisville and Cincinnati to warm up for their men’s and women’s dual meet on Friday night.

San Juan was good to us, as everyone who has been reading this series of blogs already knows. The pool was beautiful (and cold too, as you know). The meals at the Waikiki were prepared just for us, and served on time by friendly people. The beach, shops, restaurants and even Old San Juan (for some of us) were all within walking distance. Even the buses picking us up at 5:30 a.m. each morning were on time each day. And one morning by surprise, former swimmers Jason Colettis and Matt Hyde surprised us by showing up at breakfast. “The Irish are everywhere,” we thought. As it turns out, Jason was getting married that weekend (Jan. 3) to Christina Kennedy (who was a diver when Jason was a swimmer). Congratulations and best wishes to you, Jason and Christina. Thanks for coming to see us too.

Nice city, San Juan. We enjoyed it there. AND, we trained hard. Yes, Indeed, we trained hard. In addition to all of the other niceties that have been talked about in this series, the simple fact is that it is good training that makes a good training trip. So when I say we trained hard and well, I am also saying that this was a good training trip. Nice going, Irish.

Back to Louisville now, where we were met by bus driver, Charlie (a gem), and where we spent yesterday training, resting, and, after our second practice, touring the Louisville Slugger [baseball bat] factory. This is the only place in the world, we learned on our tour, that makes Louisville Slugger baseball bats for major league players. We saw a bunch of their bats, watched them being made, received small bat souvenirs, and even (for some of us) took a turn or two in the batting cages trying to hit 40 mph pitches coming out of a machine. Interesting tour, and fun too.

After the tour, it was off to dinner at Porcini’s – a very upscale Louisville A-list Italian restaurant. Alan George, our sports information guru now known by the team as “A.G.”, set up the dinner for us. His cousin, Tim Coury, is the manager and was our host. Look for him, he told us, right behind the Louisville bench during the Cardinals’ home basketball games. (And since Notre Dame plays Louisville in Louisville on Monday, we will do it too, Tim. Count on it!). Pizza, pasta, salad, bread, vegetables, even cookies for dessert. It was quite the meal … far from the box and bag meals we will enjoy on the way home today (Louisville is, after all, the home of Papa Johns).

Saturday morning, “good morning, Irish,” … dress code A time … and we are off to the meet. Matt Bertke, now a medical school student at Louisville, came to the meet, and so did his parents. David Moisan, looking skinnier than ever and telling of his training for an Iron Man, came too. An older man I had never seen came up to introduce himself and two say that he had two grandchildren, one at Louisville, and one at Notre Dame. Even one of the guests we met at the Doubletree Hotel in Boca Raton when the Louisville football team played in the Orange Bowl a few years back came to the meet to say “hi” (and boast a little about his favorite team). Alan George’s family came too, from an hour and a half away. Thank you all.

We are on the bus as I finish this … meet finished, most of the pizza finished. Charlie is at the wheel. “Ocean’s Eleven” is on the screen. No snow yet. Some of us are asleep. All of us are headed home.

This has been an excellent training trip. Thank you, Irish. And thank you all for reading the story of our travels.

Go Irish,
Tim Welsh