Waterloo Swimming team makes it back to Austin after travel nightmare

The Waterloo Swimming team is glad to be back in Austin after dealing with a travel nightmare and being stranded in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Every year, they take a training trip. Sixty kids went to Knoxville this year. 

"I really enjoyed it a lot because we got to meet these amazing athletes that taught us so much," swimmer Colton Spaulding said. 

"They got to help us with some techniques, so from a training perspective, it was amazing," swimmer Hannah Seal said. 

The group was supposed to return to Austin on Saturday, June 1, but head coach Will Trusler says their flight was delayed repeatedly and was eventually canceled. 

"We immediately went into problem-solving mode," he said. [The airline] said, 'you can either fly standby one at a time with 60 kids back to Austin, or we can get you home Tuesday.' Neither of those worked."

They found a flight out of Charlotte but needed a way to get there first. They got a charter bus, stayed the night at the airport, but then the bus got canceled. 

A baggage handler at the airport who used to be a coach came to the rescue. 

"She had some personal connections with a bus company, got us in touch with a local bus company, and we got two buses to Charlotte the next morning," Trusler said. 

He had to pay about $5,000 out of pocket and is still working to get that reimbursed. 

The group finally made it home after about 36 hours of traveling. 

"On the other side, [I feel] great. That, I mean, easily the most stressful night of my life probably," Trusler said. 

"Stressful, I think everybody was confused," Seal said.

When they finally touched down, "it was the first time I've clapped, like when we landed. We made it, some tears getting into the Austin airport again," Trusler said. 

Despite the challenges, everyone handled it well. 

"Nobody was complaining," Trusler said. 

"It was just really nice to get back home once I got there," Spaulding said. 

At the end of the day, "I love my job. I cannot imagine doing anything else. We wear a lot of hats, we are travel agents, we have to communicate with parents," Trusler said. "Psychologist, therapist. Obviously, we need to know biology, anatomy, the science side of swimming, but I love my job."