WAVERLEY: While many Nova Scotians are thinking about the cold weather ahead, athletes from Cheema Aquatic Club are thinking of sunnier places.

More than 40 athletes from the Waverley-based club—43 athletes between senior competitors and master athletes—will be heading to Florida for a month to begin their on water training for the 2017 racing season.

Mike Kerrivan is the coach at Cheema. He spoke about why the team packs up in the middle of winter to head down south. It’s anything but a vacation for the athletes going—they’re training everyday to be their best when the competition season starts back home.

“We head down to get a jump on the training,” said Kerrivan, from Fall River. “The large majority of them going, with the exception of a few, are locally from Fall River/Waverley. It’s good to have such a large contingent going.”

Cameron Nowen is one of the athletes heading down to train.They are leaving inearly March, returning in April. It’s his fourth time going down.

“It benefits us to get in the water sooner by going down,” said the Lakeview native. “It allows us to get a early jump on the whole year in general.”

“It helps us get back into a rhythm on the water,” added Laura MacKinnon, from Bedford.

In the past, those going have made arrangements to have packages put together from their teachers so they can work on them using Powerschool. This year might be a bit different with work-to-rule in place as of Jan. 20.

Kerrivan said the training keeps the athletes “prepared.”

“This year is one of our shorter camps, at only four weeks,” he said. “Generally, we go from four weeks to nine weeks, but because the national team trials are later this year we’re not going quite as long. That’s great because we get to stay home a little bit longer this year and save some dollars too.”

For MacKinnon, it will be her third year at the camp in Florida.

“I got a lot closer with my teammates living with them and paddling with them,” she said. “It’s been great for team bonding.”

Nowen has no qualms about leaving the cold N.S. winters behind when he boards that plane to head down.

“It’s definitely a nice pick me up being able to go and feel the warmth for a little while,” he said with a smile. “You can really focus on your training when you’re down there.”