Training Trip Bus Ride

Taking a bus down to Florida instead of a plane was a foreign concept to me.  I tried to mentally prepare myself for the monotonous hours spent sitting in the uncomfortable seats.  Twenty-two hours on the road, going through West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia before having to travel through most of Florida to reach our destination of Ft. Lauderdale.  Now that I’m here and (mostly) recovered, I’m going to recount the hours spent on the bus.

Swimmers first arrived back on campus in Delaware, OH.  There’s a lot of buzz; people were seeing each other for the first time in a little over a week.  Everyone was excited to be back together and to get out of the cold.  I was tired; I drove from Chicago earlier that morning so I just wanted to get on the bus and sleep.  We loaded everything up on the bus, and I was pleasantly surprised that most everyone can get their own section of 2 seats.  I hopped up in the front row and plop down, exhausted.  We do one final head count, and begin our journey at about 2pm.

The first few hours, I was going in and out of napping.  However, I do notice the excitement in the air.  There is nothing like leaving the dreary Midwest for sunny Florida in the middle of winter.  The prospect of getting jacked and tan is a motivator and incentive.  There’s lots of chatter on the bus and spirits seem to be riding high.

We took our first rest stop in Beckley, WV several hours in.  It’s about an hour south of Charleston.  Apparently Mount Union University’s Wrestling team was also stopping by as well.  Most of the team had fallen asleep for some period of time, so a lot of them were just waking up.  One person on the team was not feeling well, I felt bad; the last thing you want on a twenty-two hour bus ride is to feel noxious.  We all ate some food and then hit the road again.

With food in everyone, the bus becomes a bit livelier again.  There is some chatter about watching a movie.  The team ultimately decides on Jaws.  This was a great pick to get us ready to hit the beach (and do an ocean mile later this week).  By this time it is dark out, and the only noticeable things are the lights in the distance from a city, and the tunnels through the Appalachian Mountains.  With the movie on, everyone settled down and watched the movie.  After the first movie, the team still wanted more, so we turned on The Guardian.  Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher star in the flick, and it’s about the U.S. Coast Guard.  Anyone else pick up on the theme?  During the middle of The Guardian, we stopped for a rest break somewhere in North Carolina.  There’s less snow on the ground, but it’s still just as cold out.

I was dozing in and out for the next few hours, but at about 1am the bus stopped so the drivers could switch.  After filling up on gas and the successful switch, we were back on the road.  The next several hours were spent sleeping by (hopefully) a majority of the team.  The next thing I know, we’re stopping at a McDonalds in Florida.  Finally, no snow.  However, it is only about 40 degrees out, but training trip is finally becoming real.  Trying to sleep was hard enough, but seems like a worthy sacrifice to see the sun.  We’re only about 2 hours out.  The team is starting to feel the sun giving the ladies circle tans and the guys speedo tan lines.  After another two hours, we finally reached our hotel.  The team celebrates and rushes to their rooms to unpack.  A few go hit the beach for a little, but I’m just thankful for a bed and the sun.  Of course, not too much relaxing could be done; after all, we had swim practice that afternoon.

Barret Mueller is a first year assistant coach at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio after swimming 4 years for Kalamazoo College.

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