Sea Olympics on Semester at Sea

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Semester at Sea Olympics

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While we’re to the point of the Semester at Sea voyage where we’re docking every few days in a new country and things have gotten quite busy, that doesn’t mean activity aboard the M/V Explorer comes to a halt, not by any means. Most times after we return from a lengthy visit to a place, the following day is a reading day, a chance for all participants to reflect upon what they experienced, as well as an opportunity to catch up on missed work (or sleep…depending). But because our time in Mauritius was so brief, the next day was an entirely different story altogether. It was time for one of the most anticipated events in a SASer’s voyage … Sea Olympics!

Sea Olympics is just what it sounds like, a shipboard competition with some events requiring athleticism (volleyball, crab soccer), some involving ingenuity (board games, joke contests), some summoning fortitude (popcorn eating), some demanded artistic ability (banner contests, face painting) and some just straight-up dumb luck (a relay that involves moving ice cubes with faux chopsticks).

It was like being back in elementary school again, only with 700 “big kids” involved. I mean, what kid did not live in anticipation of Field Day each spring for weeks to come?

Everyone on the ship was encouraged to participate, from the Sea Squirts (the children of the staff and faculty) to the Lifelong Learners to, of course, the students.

In the very beginning of the voyage, students are divvied up into seas, such as the Bering or Mediterranean, of 50 to 70 members—the equivalent of a residence hall—with one head resident (called an LLC, or living learning coordinator) per sea. On Sea Olympics day, all the seas come together for the friendly (and OK, extremely heated) day-long series of competitions. The winners received a party up in the staff and faculty lounge and the privilege of being the first to get off the ship in Fort Lauderdale once the voyage ends on Dec. 13.

Every team has its own colors (we were tie-dye as no primary or secondary color was left for us!), chant and team name (all the real sea names were taken, so we were the somewhat controversial Profs ‘a Sea…standing for both professors and professionals).

The majority of participants got really into it, too, wearing war paint and the whole nine yards.

The Comms Coordinator, Valerie, and I served as co-captains for the Profs. You’ve probably gathered already but I am ridiculously competitive, to the point that I challenged the dependent children (ages 9 to 12) to a fierce game of dodgeball a few weeks ago and had no qualms about being in it to win it, so this was a good, if not dangerous, role for me to play.

While I was tempted to sign myself up for every event simply because they all sounded like so! much! fun! (and also because other people just weren’t volunteering), I capped it at three. The first was Taboo with Valerie, Brian and our incomparably witty assistant dean Laurie, and after an intense five rounds of playing to 25, we walked away the overall victors. (Naturally.) Brian, the IT dude, usually fulfills the role of ship “nice guy,” so no one was more shocked than his teammates when he was shameless about deducting points every time our opponents would gesture or say anything remotely close to the word on the card. It was humorous to watch (especially as it aided in our victory)—glad I wasn’t the only person super into the competition side of things!

My second game was the human knot, where 12 of us had to untangle ourselves once we were holding hands, and then sit in each other’s laps and walk across the deck over a finish line. This one is really hard to practice, but somehow by grace of the Sea Olympics gods, the Profs reigned supreme: While some groups took as much as 15 minutes to complete the task, we did so in 23.6 seconds. My mind is still blown by how we managed to pull off this feat.

My final effort was as part of the tug of war team. I may look happy below and like I’m not pulling my own weight, but that’s only because all the other photos of the bloodbath were too unattractive to post on the Internet. We finished fourth (out of 10), which given some of the 24-packs on those students (both male and female) is a victory itself, and I still have blisters two weeks later.

The last event of the day was by far the most entertaining and the one time the whole ship reconvened at once to make fun of cheer on those participating in it.

What caused the whole community to halt all other commotion? Why, synchronized swimming, of course!

We had a hard enough time getting staff and faculty to fill up spots in the “normal” events, so I was a bit surprised (and stoked) when four of our own men—Brian, Brian, Andrew and Louis—rose to the challenge. Valerie and the art professor, Christina, choreographed a fun routine to It’s Raining Men, and the guys practiced for days in advance. They came in second to the Baltic Sea; I still think they should have walked away with first, but what are you going to do?

In the end, the Baltic Sea won (deservedly), and we finished somewhere in the middle of the pack (fifth, I believe, out of 10 teams), but I maintain that’s because they robbed us of half our teammates who were either LLCs made to compete with their seas or staff or faculty who were judging events. If we’d had our full team, I’m confident experience and mental prowess would have reigned supreme over youth and physical brawn.

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COMMENTS
  • October 19, 2011

    Yay Team Tie-dye!!!

    Love this, especially the synchronized swimming!

    xox

  • October 19, 2011

    What a fun time. I’d have had a hard time choosing which events too. Amazing how fast you all got out of the knot. Maybe you should stowaway and go again. 😉

  • October 19, 2011

    So fun!
    I love that Taboo was an “Olympic” event – ha!

    • October 20, 2011
      Kristin

      They should implement it in the “real” Olympics, I think–the only problem is that by now, we know ALL of the cards!

  • October 19, 2011

    Okay, so I couldn’t watch the video with audio because I’m at work and I’m pretty sure my coworkers would be like, “What. The. Fuck?” if they heard It’s Raining Men coming from my office. However. That was quite possibly one of the most hilariously awkward things I’ve ever seen.

    Also? In that picture of you and the girl in the purple you are fucking INTENSE! It’s like your eyes are screaming, “I WILL CUT YOU, BITCH!”

    • October 20, 2011
      Kristin

      I try to keep it PG on the ship, but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I was thinking. (Actually, one of our administrators said that in a lecture…only sans the whole “bitch” part–it was hilarious.)

  • October 19, 2011
    Brandy

    That looks like so much fun! I wouldn’t want to leave the ship, either, if I were you.

    • October 20, 2011
      Kristin

      I’ve already started my application for future voyages–if they’re going to carry me off kicking and screaming, at least I can come back in the future (*hopefully*)! =)

  • October 19, 2011

    So fun! Our office has had Olympics for the past two years, and it’s my FAVORITE day of the year. This year it’s canceled, and I’m heartbroken, as I am also a competitive freak.

    • October 20, 2011
      Kristin

      It’s the college athlete in us both…once an athlete, always an athlete (or Taboo player…or popcorn eater…).

  • October 20, 2011

    OMG that synchronized swimming video is hilarious! I love it and your team clearly should have won! :0)
    It looks like you are having such a blast on-board, I don’t think I would want to get off the ship either after all that fun!
    Hmmm, do you have to be American to go on semester at sea or can anyone apply………:0)

    • October 20, 2011
      Kristin

      You can be from anywhere! We have a couple of Brits, a Swedish-Finn and a South African on staff…in fact, the head dean is from your motherland =)

      • October 21, 2011

        Ooh, in that case I might have to look into a sabbatical from my job to sail the high seas…… :0)
        A friend of mine from San Francisco went on SAS a few of years ago and has just signed up for the 2012 reunion, I will tell him to give you a wave if you’re still onboard!! 🙂

  • October 20, 2011

    Thanks for the sweet comment Kristen! I loved all of your Morocco posts. I wish we could stay in that Riad!! You guys look like you’re still having the best time.

  • October 20, 2011

    Looks like so much fun! What a great idea.

  • October 20, 2011
    Briel K.

    What fun! I am competitive too and all those events seem like they’d be a blast. I LOVE playing Taboo! We used to play at work during lunch and it was a lot of fun. I’m a stickler for gesturing too! 🙂

    I can’t believe you still have 2 months left!

    • October 26, 2011
      Kristin

      I am so obsessed with Taboo that I tracked down a new version of the game at Toys R Us in Malaysia since I’ve now done every one of the cards from the game we have on board. Dorky, no? I challenge you to a Taboo duel–or wait, maybe I’d rather have you on my team instead =)

      • November 23, 2011
        Briel K.

        (one month later…) Next time you are in Los Angeles we should have a Taboo game night! 🙂

  • October 21, 2011

    I love the sense of community that seems to have been built already on the ship. Seems like a pretty awesome thing!

  • October 21, 2011

    How much fun!!!

  • October 23, 2011
    MOM

    I’m shielding Ella’s face from your last comment… poor orphan that she is

    • October 26, 2011
      Kristin

      Obviously, if we decided to stay on the ship, we’d find a way to smuggle her on as well!

  • October 27, 2011

    That looks like such a blast!

  • October 27, 2011

    I WANT TO GO!

  • October 27, 2011

    Oh my goodness!! Synchronized swimming!! I love it.

  • October 27, 2011

    Oh My G! It looks like you tie-dyed travelers are having a good ol time! I love the face paint!!

  • October 31, 2011

    What a great opportunity! I wanna go!

  • December 8, 2012

    This looks so cool! I can’t wait! I really suck at these kinds of games, but it still looks super fun. Did you have to have the T-shirts made? Or were they made for the teams?

    • December 11, 2012

      They sell all the T-shirts in the campus store. They cost around $15 each, and each sea picks a team color before the Sea Olympics.

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