Seven swimmers from TNT attended the 2005 Auburn Tiger Starts and Turns Camp, June 4-5 at Auburn University. The camp was headed up by Auburn Head Coach David Marsh, who was a member-coach of the 2004 Olympic Team. Coach Marsh was assisted by a staff of 16 coaches and Auburn varsity swimmers, including an NCAA champion and internationally recognized athletes.
Coach Marsh opened the camp by speaking about the importance of starting and turning skills in competitive swimming. “The fastest a swimmer will ever move through the water is when they enter it on their start and when they are pushing off the walls on their turns,” said Marsh. “This aspect of the sport wins and loses races, meets, as well as SES and NCAA titles, and is why we emphasize starting and turning skills at every practice.”
TNT swimmers in attendance were Jordan and Daniel Doucet, ages 9 and 11 from Lake Forest, Cameron and Emily Grant, ages 11 and 12 from Fairhope, Adele Mantiply, age 11 from Montrose and, Adrian and Bethany Novak, ages 11 and 12 from Lake Forest.
Participants received instruction on starting and turning techniques for the four competitive strokes, butterfly, backstroke, breastroke, freestyle, and the individual medley. Instruction included one-on-one and group training, utilizing drills, video analysis, and live demonstrations by some of the top swimmers in the world.
The kids met Fred Bisquett, the world’s fastest man, and got his autograph. Bisquett, a member of Auburn’s 1st place, 2005 Men’s NCAA Championship team has the NCAA and US Open record for the 50 yard freestyle and is considered to be the fastest man on earth, in the water.
A unique aspect of the camp was the use of video to compare the participant’s technique with that of highly trained Auburn swimmers. Participants were video taped while performing the four competitive strokes and their technique was then super imposed and synchronized with the stroke technique of Olympic swimmers. Participants were then able to see how their technique compared to that of the model swimmers during each phase of each stroke.
At the camp's conclusion, each swimmer was evaluated in four categories: Reaction time off the blocks, ability to streamline for distance off the blocks, open turn time, and flip turn time. Each swimmer was provided with a written analysis of their skills and suggestions as to how they could improve.
In addition to learning competitive swimming skills, the swimmers participated in a variety of activities including inspirational presentations and a land training session with an Auburn strength training coach, whom the Auburn athletes affectionately refer to as “PK,” short for People Killer.
All in all the kids had a great time, in what was a very inspirational and instructive, over night competitive swimming experience. They were able to meet and receive training from some of the most successful swimmers in the world and meet and make new friends from throughout the region.
Most importantly, TNT swimmers were able to hear others say what Coach Jan tells them every day about the importance of using the walls to their advantage, and by streamlining and propelling efficiently underwater. It was great reinforcement, coming from athletes and coaches who have developed successful careers by practicing and teaching these essential elements of competitive swimming.