OTTAWA — Competitive swimmers are looking at doing anything to get an edge. Some shave off all of their body hair, others may use a special swimsuit, but there’s no replacing practice and receiving specialized instruction to get better.
Izzy Stechschulte, a 15-year-old freshman on the Bluffton High School swim team, was one of 24 swimmers participating in a Sunday morning swim camp at the Putnam County YMCA.
“It helps us figure out what we need to fix and how we can fix it. It helps us get into the right mental state of mind to do it,” Stechschulte said.
A couple of elite swimmers were the instructors for the two-day Fitter and Faster Swim Camp.
Norbert Szabo represented Hungary in the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Marina Spadoni swam competitively at Arizona State University.
They brought their skills to Ottawa to teach the next generation of potential Olympians some of the things they’ll need to become better athletes.
On Sunday, the students were learning more about how to improve their starts and utilizing underwater dolphin kicking.
Practicing the physical skills of swimming is almost as important as the mental aspect of competitive swimming.
“It’s almost a full-time job, like spending almost 30-40 hours a week to get better at it,” Szabo said. “At the end of the day, it’s still trying to get the most out of it. So if you don’t have a goal, and obviously, everyone does, otherwise you wouldn’t do this, you wouldn’t sacrifice your time to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and even earlier.”
The Fitter and Faster Swim Camp began Sunday and will continue through Monday at the Putnam County YMCA.
Spadoni says the extra instruction these swimmers are getting will help them reach their goals.
“It’s a huge opportunity for them, and I wish I had had this when I was a younger swimmer, to have people to look up to that have been in their shoes, not necessarily like a gold medalist or these unattainable people, but we tell them that we’re normal people like them. We all started where they started, and we just love the sport. Everything we do is because we love it and spent our whole lives learning about it and want to spread that knowledge to them,” Spadoni said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.