A trip to Puerto Rico over winter break sounds ideal — at least on paper.

But for the the Yale men’s (5-0) and women’s (4-1) swimming and diving teams, the Dec. 29 to Jan. 9 trip to Puerto Rico was no vacation.

“Puerto Rico was sunny and beautiful to train in, but it was also some of the hardest 10 days of my life,” Susan Cooke ’03 said. “We all worked really hard, swimming about five hours per day and waking up at 5 a.m. every morning, and now we are completely broken down.”

Yet in a competition in Puerto Rico against Syracuse University, Boston College and several Puerto Rican universities, the Bulldogs performed quite well.

“It’s always the toughest training of the season, and I think people handled it well,” women’s team captain Catey Bradford ’03 said.

And the training paid off. Yale began the second half of its season last weekend with wins over Cornell to commence the League portion of its schedule.

Still, Bradford recognizes the road toward both the Harvard-Yale-Princeton title and the conference championship only gets more difficult.

“We didn’t have too much trouble against them, but our competition is going to be tougher and tougher every week,” Bradford said.

Perhaps most significantly, the Bulldogs will spend much time on the road; only two of Yale’s remaining 10 meets — Fordham tonight and against Army on Jan. 22 — are at Yale’s Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.

“That’s what happens when you swim so many tri-meets, and the yearly rotation between schools gives you a primarily away schedule,” head coach Frank Keefe said.

The Bulldogs intend to capitalize on their home waters tonight, although they will not be at full strength. The squads will split; half of each program will compete at Fairfield University, and the rest will host Fordham. On Saturday, both complete rosters travel to Lehigh for their second meet in two days.

But after 18 intense practices in 10 days in Puerto Rico, two meets in two days will not phase the Bulldogs.

“Fordham, Fairfield and Lehigh should be manageable meets,” Heidi Kraus ’03 said. “We’ve swum strong at back-to-back meets like this before, so I have confidence that we’ll swim well in the three meets this weekend.”