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UMass swimming to compete in Puerto Rico

The Massachusetts swimming and diving team should get some time in the sun as well as some competition during winter break. UMass will head to San Juan, Puerto Rico to compete in the Loyala Invitational on Jan. 9. The actual meet is little significance to UMass , and solely for preparation.

“It does bring them together as we focus in on the final part of the season. As soon as we get back from the finish, it is a sprint to the finish,” UMass coach Russ Yarworth said.

Yarworth hopes the break will allow UMass to better prepare for the Atlantic 10 Championships which will be held from Feb. 16-20. Both teams have three dual meets remaining this season, two of which are on the road.

The weekend before classes resume, both teams will compete in the Rhode Island Invitational. Just a week after, they will compete in two dual meets in one weekend.

UMass will be on the road for both as it faces off against Boston College, and Fordham on Jan. 22, and Jan. 24 respectively. Both teams hold a record of 3-2 in dual meets, and in their last races of 2009, sustained losses to Yale and Boston University, respectively. Nevertheless, each side is enthused about the second half of the season.

The teams focused on the Terrier Invitational as a measuring stick, and both performed well placing third overall. Yarworth was very pleased with their performance, as he felt the team swam hard.

The break gives UMass an opportunity to rest for about a week and a half. However, it remains important for both teams to stay in shape so that they can hit the ground running once they get back.

“We’re at the phase of the season when we kind of go back to basics,” Yarworth said. “We’ve gotten through the first part of the season and have done really well but now it’s time to roll things back, work on mechanics, leg strength and aerobic conditioning.”

The trip will also be extremely special for Yarworth. It gives him the opportunity to visit old alumni he helped recruit as members of the UMass water polo team. The team was very successful, and Yarworth along with many of the students that he recruited in Puerto Rico were a big part of that. He says it is important that each time he makes this trip he seeks out former students, to see how they are. Ultimately, however, it is an opportunity for both teams to experience a different culture and beautiful weather.

“It’s a chance to get a way from winter,” Yarworth said. “Coaching outside in the sunshine is not too bad at all.”

Jeffey Engmann can be reached at jengmann@umass.edu.

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