Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February  24, 2017


Junior Ally Roskos successfully defends one-meter diving title at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships.

MU Swim Team Stops Worrying, Gets Wet

Shelby Harrell

Fresh off of a highly successful day at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships, the Manchester University Swimming and Diving team returned to campus early Sunday morning around 2 a.m.
The Manchester University swim team saw a large number of achievements at this meet. “We set 19 school records,” Coach Mike Kroll said, “which makes 28 school records on the season.” 

Although the taxing effort of pushing muscles to their absolute limit while moving against constant resistance is exhausting for the swimmers, they agree that it was easy compared to a more arduous task: jumping into the water.
According to record-holding sophomore Jamie McBride, it becomes increasingly harder to enter the water over the course of the meet due to the decreasing temperature of the water and the amount of swimmers that have already competed. “The hardest part of getting in the water is that you know the water is going to be cold,” McBride said. 

In order to prepare for the daily jump, Coach Kroll has implemented a rigorous training regimen that will have even the most hesitant of swimmers diving off the deep end. “We practice Monday–Friday and even Saturday for about two and a half hours each day,” Kroll said. “We do a mix of swimming and weight/core stability or dry land training.” The team’s philosophy emphasizes a technique first approach, followed by establishing speed and then building speed endurance. 

In addition to their training, the team’s warm-up process aids in ridding each swimmer of their aquatic inhibitions. The aforementioned process involves a combination of a dry land warm-up followed by a swimming warm-up. “The dry land warm up is designed to activate their muscles and cardiovascular systems prior to entering the water for warm up,” Coach Kroll said, “Our philosophy is that we warm up to swim, not swim to warm up.” The swimming warm-up that follows dry land is a mixture of technique drills and speed work to prepare them either for competition or for practice. 

However, the combination of training and warm up processes can only get the athlete so far. In addition to physically preparing their bodies for the water, each individual must be mentally and emotionally ready.
The emotional status of a swimmer reaching the starting block depends on a large number of factors including the swimmer’s level of confidence, the event they participate in, and even the individual themselves. “Ideally we want them feeling confident in their abilities and to clear their minds,” Kroll said. “If they are confident in both their abilities and their training, we don’t want them to think we just want them to go out and race and let their body do what they have trained it to do.” 

One of the ways for a swimmer to conquer their initial dread of the cold water is to exert some control over the way in which they enter it. Diving is the traditional, as well as the only allowable, method in which swimmers step onto a starting block that propels them forward into the water. “In a swimming start from the blocks, we are looking for both power and reaction time/speed in getting off the blocks,” Kroll said. “This will enter them into a streamline position to enter the water at an angle that will propel the swimmer at depth where they can perform their ideal breakout for their race.”
According to the rules, swimmers are allowed to dive into the water in a manner of their choosing. However, they must remain motionless until the start of their race. In addition, the swimmers must place one foot on the edge of the block. “Currently, most swimmers favor what I like to call a ‘track’ start where one foot is at the edge of the block and the other is behind them with the swimmer bent over grabbing the block,” Kroll said. 

The moments in which the swimmers stand motionless on the starting blocks could allow them ample time for reflection. The fact that they are able to overcome the incredibly daunting task of diving into the water is truly a testament to the athletes’ passion for their sport. “I feel that each swimmer has their own relationship with and love for that water that is special to them,” Kroll said. “The water feels like a second home.”