The TCU swimming and diving team opened its season today at the University of North Texas, but when the Horned Frogs hit the water against the Mean Green, they put more than just their in-pool training to the test.
The Horned Frogs also showcased the benefit of weeks of workouts executed outside the water.
The team practices three days a week inside the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility, a massive building adjacent to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum with an artificial turf field that is usually used by the football team.
But on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, the swimming and diving team straggles into the facility around 6:15 a.m., when it is still dark outside.
The team, under the direction of Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Todd Kensler, works through a variety of stretches, individual exercises and weight lifting routines. The goal is two-fold: to prevent injuries and to strengthen specific muscles that are key to success as a swimmer.
“We do a lot of shoulder exercises, a lot of preventative exercises to strengthen the core,” assistant swimming and diving coach Andy Waeger said.
“We’ll spend a lot of time doing movements we’d do in the water in the weight room, so when we get in the water, they translate into stronger swimmers,” he said.
While the season begins this month, it extends well into the second semester. Building a base now is important, Waeger said.
“Anything that we want to have really strong in February, we start working on in September and October,” he said.
Sebastian Arispe, a senior long-distance swimmer, competes primarily in the 500-meter freestyle race.
“We try to make similar movements to the ones we do in the water,” Arispe said. “And we try to implement as much power in the weight room as we can. If we’re doing pushups or pull-ups, we sometimes do it for time for as many reps as we can."
It is also important for swimmers to build leg strength, Waeger said.
Without much to push off of in the pool, the legs tend to get exhausted more quickly. Out-of-water exercises such as front squats and timed jumps combat this effect, senior freestyle sprinter Katelin Hatcher said.
“I like to focus on my legs a lot because kicking is something really important to swimming, and it doesn’t always get a lot of attention,” Hatcher said.
“When you get tired," she said, "your legs are usually the first things that goes."