Dec. 26, 2012 Photo Gallery
Gaby Moran, Texas Media Relations
Taking a short break from Valero Alamo Bowl preparations, a few players from the Texas football team received the opportunity to swim with some beluga whales at Sea World in San Antonio.
"We are football all day, every day," junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. "So just to come out here and experience this with some beluga whales and be able to enjoy time with teammates is great."
Jeffcoat and junior linebacker Jordan Hicks were among a group of Longhorns that arrived at the park before it was open to the public for the chance to put on some wet suits and jump into the pool with beluga whales in chilly 30-degree temperatures.
"How many times do you get the chance to swim with beluga whales? It's freezing out here, but it is something you just can't pass up," Hicks said.
The Texas players learned a few hand signals to direct the whales to perform different tricks in the pool. They had the whales jumping, splashing other teammates, dancing, and waving to a fictional audience.
"They were huge and nothing like these offensive linemen I have to deal with," Hicks said laughing.
"My favorite part was seeing the whales come up in the air. I think [the trainers] said they were around 2,000 pounds, but when he went up into the air, he was acting like a marlin," Jeffcoat said.
Besides the tricks, the players had the chance to get real close and personal with the whales.
"We got to actually give them a hug and one of the female beluga whales gave us a kiss. I think she was trying to hit on me or something," kidded Jeffcoat.
The rest of the Texas Longhorn football team later joined these players that afternoon when the park opened to the public.
"At other bowl games, people do not get these kind of experiences," Jeffcoat said. "They don't get to go out and see what goes on behind the scenes of Sea World and places like that."
The Longhorns spent the afternoon riding roller coasters with menacing sounding names like the "Steel Eel" and the "Great White." They also had opportunities to feed bottlenose dolphins and sea lions and to catch the orcas, or "killer whales," perform in the "Shamu Christmas" show.
"The whole thing was fun and to be able to do this with some teammates was a great experience," Hicks said.