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By Michael J. Stott
AUSTIN, Texas, March 29. STRETCHING room is at a premium at most natatoriums. The Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center is no exception. The last three days have seen many teams stretching outside the wet deck. Hallways barely suffice, especially when athletes roll out their foam rollers. It’s one thing for the assembled throng to be 4′ 8″ 12-year-old girls, but a full team of 6’4″ college swimmers occupies considerably more space. Three years ago I recall a Texas 400 freestyle relay team stretching/lounging in a narrow hallway . Torsos were on the floor and legs extended halfway up the wall.
Last night, Southern California’s Dimitri Colupaev and Chase Bloch were sprawled on an exterior river rock walkway stretching limbs and listening to music. The two captains were immersed in the task at hand and had chosen the great outdoors for the fresh air and respite from the frenetic pace inside. Bloch had no event that evening, while Colupaev had a full slate in which he would go on to place eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:34.73) and anchor the Trojans’ winning 800 free relay (6:13.09/1:32.68 split).
So why outside? For one, “the air,” said Bloch. “I like being around nature. It’s pretty loud in there and the lights are on. Here, it is more calm, you can listen to your music and have warm headphones.
“Normally our whole team comes out here. When we first arrive, we all stretch outside and then those of us swimming later in the session stay outside and enjoy the fresh air. I’m from California, so I am used to being outside.
For those who have to go inside early, “they’re inside warming up with Coach (Dave) Salo,” said Bloch.
This morning on the mezzanine deck a full roster of California Bears were engaged in vigorous and purposeful pre-competition exercise, a.k.a captains’ stretching. In this group, no headphones are allowed.
“We do the same thing every day,” said freshman 100 backstroke champion Ryan Murphy. “We do things to get the heart rate up and a bunch of stretching on our own.”
Bear captain Shayne Fleming said “Pre-meet stretching is very vital to what we do. It helps get you going in the morning before swimming . Without it you might not wake up if you tried to go straight to swimming.”
The Cal routine usually goes “30 minutes-ish,” says Fleming. “We do a dynamic warm-up together to get the blood flowing before stretching. From there it is stretching, rolling, use the restroom, relaxing — whatever you need from there. You know what’s tight and what’s not. Then it’s kind of what you need. “It’s very individualized and up to you to figure it out.”
Fleming’s goal for the morning was getting ready for his heat in the 100 free that included “just loosening, doing a little rolling, some quad stretching — getting hyped and just being part of the team.”
Sounds like a recipe for success, no matter the team.