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As the Duke swimmers make their way back to Durham and prepare to host South Carolina Saturday at 11 a.m. in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion, senior Matt Carder took the time to reflect on the purpose of the team's recent training trip in Barbados.

DST Does Barbados

I usually get asked every year prior to training trip why we have to return to campus a couple days after Christmas and cut our holiday short to depart a few days later on a weeklong lactic acid-inducing trip to somewhere sunny. I don't know if it's because I have three years of training trip experience to draw from or if I'm just a nostalgic old man, but the real reason why we do these things hit me a few days ago during practice.

We don't go to places like Barbados to swim tens of thousands of meters. We can easily do that back at home. We don't come to the islands to get tan. I've heard the Planet Beach by Southpoint Mall is cheaper than a flight to the islands. We don't wake up before 4 a.m. to get on a bus to RDU and barely make our first flight to swim outside. We could bus down to somewhere nice in Florida to do that.

We go on training trip for the small things. We stuff four teammates in a room so that we can have conversations that "can absolutely not pass the door". We spend a majority of our days with each other so that we can have inside jokes that would be too much trouble to explain to anyone not on the team. We pack the bus with grocery bags full of future dinners to have adventures in cooking on a stove that could fit in one of our suitcases. We walk down unfamiliar streets to find restaurants like Pablo Dante's that serve island comfort food and that remember your name when you come back two days later.

We don't go on training trip just to become better athletes or make training a bit more like vacation. We do it to become a better team; a team that will come away from a week in Barbados in better shape, tanner and more cohesive. We go on training trip so that when we're asked who we are in the Miami airport, we can look around and say proudly, "The Duke Swim Team".

Matt Carder

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