By Jack Belanger ’21
On Jan. 2, the Providence College Men’s and Women’s Swimming Teams made their annual trip down to Ponce, Puerto Rico for their winter training trip. While the team was looking forward to spending time together and enjoying the warm weather, Puerto Rico was dealing with some of its own issues. In the days leading up to their arrival, there had been several smaller earthquakes on the south side of the island. Even though the team was not staying at the epicenter of the shakes, they felt the effects of some of the tremors during their first day on the island.
Co-captain Erin Boyle ’20 and her roommates first noticed the effects when they felt their beds shaking after they had arrived at their hotel room. Boyle added that she has never experienced something like this before. Throughout the next few days the team felt some of the tremors periodically—luckily none were a serious threat.
It was not until Tuesday, January 7 when they felt an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4. The shaking occurred early in the morning, waking up the entire team.
“The entire room was shaking,” said Boyle. “The curtains looked like they were swaying like they were on a boat. The walls looked like they were moving. I thought the T.V. was going to fall down.”
After the earthquake had finished, the team gathered in the lobby of the hotel. Head coach John O’Neill canceled practice that day and had the athletes go back to their rooms until a plan of action was decided.
Later that day, the team got a bus to the north side of the island where they would finish the rest of their training camp in Dorado, far enough away to avoid the major effects of the earthquake.
Outside of the earthquake, the team had a successful time in Puerto Rico. The trip served as a great opportunity for the team to bond while practicing twice a day for the majority of the trip.
After the trip ended, the women’s team came back to campus for the meet against Assumption College while the men flew to Pennsylvania to face Villanova University. The men did not fare well against the Wildcats, loosing 75-130. Justin Viotto ’22 paced the team with two first place finishes in the 1000-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly. His performance at the meet earned him Big East Swimming and Diving Male Athlete of the Week.
The women on the other hand won their meet against the Greyhounds 113-92. Lauren Zawacki ’21 led the team with two individual first-place finishes in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events. The team also won two relay events in the 400-meter medley and 400-meter freestyle. Katie Thornton ’21 also stood out, making both her cut times for the Big East Championships at the end of February.
Both teams will travel to the College of the Holy Cross this Saturday to face the Crusaders in their annual meet.