Orange Bowl Swim Classic Persevering in Wake of Hurricane Irma

Torrey Hart
by Torrey Hart 8

December 30th, 2017 College, News

The Orange Bowl Swim Classic has been the premier feature of winter training at the Jacobs Aquatics Center since its inception in 2002, and despite the facility taking a big hit from Hurricane Irma, it will remain so in 2018 and beyond.

Year-in and year-out, college teams head to Key Largo, Florida, for their winter training, and experience island lifestyle while putting in their most productive two weeks of training of the year.

“One thing that sets it apart from other places training trips go to is that all the accommodations are in walking distance, which is really nice for our teams and coaches, especially if you have a bunch of different coaches or training groups or training times happening down here,” Assistant Pool Director Abbie Fish told SwimSwam. “You get a nice lifestyle with your everyday training regime.”

Early on, trip organizers realized that they could give teams the opportunity to compete in a way that was consistent with NCAA regulations, and it would be a unique chance for all kinds of teams to mingle both in the pool and out of it.

“It’s an opportunity for some teams that are in different conferences to cross over,” Meet Coordinator Kelli Cuppett explained. “We were trying to help teams arrange that competition, then put into a fun competition that satisfies their requirements, and also creates a professional environment for them to do that in.”

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, both winter training and meet participant numbers are down – but not for good. “Our goal is to have the meet stay between 6-10 teams and we only have four, so just a little bit different. We anticipate it next year being up to the regular number of teams and being the full-blown Swim Classic, as we like to call it,” Fish said.

Fish attributes this drop largely to accommodation difficulties: as a result of the hurricane, many hotels were flooded and/or lost their roofs, and have yet to recover, shrinking the number of rooms available and driving up the cost of those that are.

However, those that do make it this year will enjoy a catered post-meet banquet and will get shirts that read ‘We are US 1,’ as the Keys are on the famed highway.

“That’s been a big thing in the Keys, especially after Irma hit, is staying together, and coming together as a community and just allowing this place to rebuild, and giving it the time that it needs to,” Fish said. “We’re letting our college students walk around here, portraying that to the locals, and it’s just really well received and gets people fired-up about the fact that we’re not giving up and that we’re going to come back even stronger.”

Regardless of the meet size, it’s all in the name of the fun times that winter training trips are best known for: “Ultimately we hope that the teams have a good time, it’s in good spirit, and we have some fast swims — that’s really what we’re looking for,” Cuppett said.

All Winter Training Teams (* are teams in the meet)

  • Kalamazoo (Men and Women)
  • West Virginia (Men and Women)
  • *Duquesne (Women Only)
  • *South Dakota (Men and Women)
  • *Texas A&M (Men only)
  • Washington College
  • Columbia University
  • Loyola
  • Monmounth University


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bobo gigi

More and more wildfires, more and more big hurricanes, more and more floods or droughts, very cold in some parts of USA right now while in France we have crazy warm temperatures for a December 30th with big wind. Extreme weather everywhere. It will cost many lives and I don’t even talk about the huge financial cost. Unfortunately just the beginning if we don’t act very quickly.
And at the same time a racist and corrupted monster in the White House who lies 24/7 and has assaulted women tries to sell his dumb fans, with the help of his corrupted friends in Congress, that climate change is a hoax and promotes carbon energies just to make his polluter billionaire friends richer….


That’s about what I sound like if I drink to much around a bone fire.

TBF, There’s plenty of truth in there, but this is a website dedicated to, for and about, swimming. Howling at the moon here won’t get us anywhere.

Aggie Swim Fan

In total agreement with you that this political diatribe belongs elsewhere. I can read all of that stuff in the newspapers (which slant only one way). Don’t need the Trump bashing or praising here!

bobo gigi



Exactly post! I agree with so much of this post. I know it is a swimming website and don’t want to venture into politics as a regular discussion. I just felt compelled to respond bigger than a thumbs up. Thank you Bobo for putting this out there. It is a huge issue that people need to be aware of the problems that are currently being done.


O need to get political !!

Aggie Swim Fan

Take this stuff somewhere else. Plenty of sites to place this on. Let’s devote this site to uplifting chatter concerning swimming; not political bashing of anyone.


Vassar College also goes to Key Largo, as does St. Kates..

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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