Swimmers sweat in UI pool

BY VICTORIA KIPP | JUNE 14, 2012 6:30 AM

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More than 100 kids dove into the pool in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center on Wednesday as they began their third day of rigorous training at the Iowa Swim Camp. The program is meant to be fun but also a tough training to develop talented swimmers at a young age.

This week marks the first of two four-day swim camps the university hosts during the summer months. Each camp is open to swimmers from 9 to 18. Starting at the age of 10, campers are welcome to stay in the residence halls while attending camp.

The pool deck was hectic as Hawkeye head coach Marc Long prepared for the kids to arrive and begin their session in the pool. "The week has already been crazy," he said.

Associate head coach Frannie Malone and assistant coaches Nathan Mundt and Kirk Hampleman help run the camp.

Each day while attending camp, the kids experience two to three training sessions. The sessions include either in-pool workouts or dry-land conditioning and strength training. Each part of the schedule plays a vital role in developing the swimmers skill.

"Dry-land conditioning is huge for athletes," Malone said.

Not only does dry-land — such as running, body-weight training, and core strengthening — help a swimmer, but Malone said the exercises also teach the kids the "basic techniques for health and life."

The camp includes daily educational sessions on topics such as nutrition and mental preparation. All campers have their strokes recorded, and they receive individual evaluation from the coaching and swim-team staff.

Malone said seeing themselves swimming on video helps the campers see what they are doing wrong, and that makes it easier for them to implement the improvements they need. The kids take their videos home with them so they can view them as they continue practicing.

Counselors are present to help the swimmers through the week. The role of a counselor is to interact with the kids in the dorms and help them adjust to the program, especially if they are overnight campers. Because the camp's training regimen is so intense, the athletes — especially the younger ones — need the counselors to be involved outside of the pool, too.

Current Hawkeye swimmers act in dual roles of instructors and camp counselors. Alumni swimmers also return in order to help teach and counsel at the camp.

Being taught by current swimmers benefits the kids in training sessions because the youngsters are able to connect with college athletes who have succeeded in the sport — to the same extent the campers are dreaming of. The Hawkeye swimmers teach the kids how to pick out aspects of their swimming on their own that they need improvement on.

"We usually ask them first what they need to correct," Hawkeye swimmer Andrew Marciniak said. "Then we will run through drills with them, and if they do that correctly, we will have them do a small set."

The swim camp is technique-based and has one main goal: to improve the campers' swimming skills. The coaches and swimming staff are willing to work hard with the kids so they can reach that goal, and the kids work hard during the week, too.

"For the most part, the kids have fun while they are here, but we also hope that they take home some of the skills they learn here and practice them on their own," Malone said.

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