Swimming World Presents – How They Train: SwimMAC’s Diggory Dillingham – Sponsored By StrechCordz

Swimming World April 2021 - Up and Comers - SwimMAC Diggory Dillingham

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How They Train: SwimMAC’s Diggory Dillingham

By Michael J. Stott

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Oh, to be young—and talented. Diggory Dillingham, son of SwimMAC coach Megan Oesting, is on a roll. He was the fastest 14-year-old 50 yard freestyler in the country (20.67) for the 2019-20 season, and as of January, he was the swiftest 15-year-old (20.28) for 2020-21. A year ago February, he helped his Iowa City West High School team to the Iowa high school state championship, garnering three NISCA All-America finishes: 50 free, 20.67 (63rd), 200 free relay, 1:24.00/20.98 leadoff (28th) and 400 free relay, 3:05.45/45.85 leadoff (37th).

Now in North Carolina, he is the state’s No. 1 college recruit (30th nationally) for the Class of 2023. Two months ago, he won the NCHSAA 4A 100 yard free championship in 45.42 and finished second in the 50 free (20.53, NISCA A-A).
“He was a water bug in childhood,” says his mother. Dillingham’s early aquatic exploits included being a water aerobics mascot as a preschooler, a summer leaguer who learned butterfly in just one week at age 5—but only an on-and-off competitive swimmer after that. Instead, flag football, basketball, track, Taekwondo, wrestling, art classes and fencing commanded his attention.

When Mom took over Eastern Iowa Swimming Federation and Diggory was 11, he began swimming more frequently. “He was always a borderline state qualifier,” says Oesting, “which in Iowa is the equivalent to a little faster than BB times. His birthday was right before the state meet, so as an age grouper, he mostly went to a non-qualifiers meet. As he got faster, Dilllingham got more serious.

“He’s not the most well-rounded swimmer,” says Oesting, “and I think people sometimes judge my values as a coach based on his performances. I don’t think that’s fair at all. As a coach, I love the 400 IM, the mile, the 200s of stroke and anything a kid is willing to go after. Diggory is his own guy, and we never talked about swimming at home because that was the only time I had to just cuddle him.

“He is very powerful mentally, extremely stubborn, and he can focus like a hot laser when it’s time to race. Milt Nelms once said that I was the most intuitive racer he’d ever met. Diggory is far more impressive than I ever was. The boy can dial it in like no one I’ve ever seen.

“We had a very special moment when he made his winter junior cut a year ago. His entry time was a 21.7. I had him sprint the first 50 of the 200 free to get him ready for his 50 free later. He went 20.87. An hour later, he won his heat by a full second, going 20.77. That night, he went 20.67 against the ‘big boys.’ That’s when I knew this kid could do whatever he decided to do,” she says.

SAMPLE DILLINGHAM SETS
“For about 15 minutes, we do various activities for :08 seconds on and :32 off. It doesn’t matter how far you get—we’re just looking at quick traction and full ignition,” says Coach Oesting:

• Head-high free from a “water polo start” (head up also)
• Stretch cord belt wrapped tight (very little give) for streamlined bouncing push-offs
• From a float with paddles and fins (:08s FAST)
• From vertical streamline pencil float (stabilize before you hit it), then :08 FAST, get UP on top of the water as fast as you can.

“For 20 minutes, we spend the first 10 minutes doing feel work, then 10 minutes of assisted or resisted cords depending on the time of the season.” Sample feel work includes:
• Hold paddles so they become extensions out front. Look to control water as far out as possible, hollow the armpit out, keep the elbow high to start the impulse and then control it through the pull
• Fingertip directionality and pathway through the stroke where there is more sensitivity and pressure; work to maximize that sensation throughout
• Immediate elbow lift as soon as you touch the water, as far away from your head as possible; have your “claw/meat hook” ready to go
• Long, high neck, being pulled toward the opposite side of the pool, flatten back belly into spine and hydroplane across the water; keep tight hips as in a boxing drill
• Kayak freestyle with broomstick and snorkel.

“Diggory’s favorite is called the ‘Death Set.’ We had a 20-yard section of pool, and he had to hit a certain time on the watch. If he missed it, we added :05 to the sendoff and kept going. We repeated that until he couldn’t make the speed under any circumstances. We started on :25 per 20-yard sprint, and I didn’t give him his hit time until about 7 or 8 in, so I knew what his fast was going to be around for that session.

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Swimming World April 2021 - Lilly King - Ever The Competitor - COVER

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Swimming World April 2021 Issue

FEATURES

012 A PANDEMIC PERSPECTIVE FROM MASTERS SWIMMING
by Dan D’Addona
Masters swimmers maintain a connection to the sport they love as well as to their team and community. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that connection has been missing the past year, but they are ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

017 DEATH, TAXES…AND INDIAN RIVER!
by Andy Ross
Indian River State College will be shooting for its 47th straight men’s and 39th consecutive women’s NJCAA team titles.

018 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: SPRINT TSAR
by John Lohn
As Swimming World continues its “Takeoff to Tokyo” series, the opportunity to examine the career of Russia’s Alexander Popov—accomplishments and approach—is the chance to pay tribute to a man who might be the greatest sprinter the sport has ever seen.

021 COUNT ON CHINA
by Dan D’Addona
Based on the results of the last eight Olympics—and the most recent World Championships held two years ago—China would be a good bet to once again dominate the diving competition, July 23-Aug. 8, at the 2021 Games in Tokyo.

022 EVER THE COMPETITOR
by David Rieder
Five years after her public introduction to the world at the Rio Olympics, little has changed about Lilly King. She will still speak her mind, tell you how she really feels, and she’s still a winner, a dominant force in sprint breaststroke.

025 THE GREATEST OF THEIR GENERATION
by Bruce Wigo
The General Slocum steamship disaster  in 1904, the tragedy that changed swimming history, had an impact on two of the greatest swimming heroes of all time, Johnny Weissmuller and Charles Robert Drew.

028 NUTRITION: FUELING FOR COMPETITION—THE “CHERRY ON TOP!”
by Dawn Weatherwax
Athletes spend hours upon hours training. It is now time to put the sports nutrition piece all together when it matters most. A big part of the plan is to know what, when and how much to eat and drink before, during and after the event.

COACHING

014 FAST AND FURIOUS
by Michael J. Stott
College coaches Braden Holloway (NC State), Todd DeSorbo (Virginia), Matt Kredich (Tennessee) and Jessen Book (Kenyon) share their ideas on how they help their swimmers maximize turn speed.

038 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: APPLYING MECHANICAL PRINCIPLES TO IMPROVE SWIMMING TECHNIQUE
by Rod Havriluk
Many swimmers attempt to swim faster by modeling the technique of the fastest swimmers. Using champions as models is an archaic approach of painstakingly slow, trial-and-error that risks adopting technique limitations. A far superior approach is to apply mechanical principles that eliminate uncertainty and accelerate the skill-learning process.

043 Q&A WITH COACH MEGAN OESTING
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN DIGGORY DILLINGHAM
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

037 DRYSIDE TRAINING: PUSHING POWER
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

040 GOLDMINDS:  LEARN HOW TO BE A RACER
by Wayne Goldsmith
It’s important to learn how to swim your event in such a way that you can perform to your potential in every possible racing situation, including different strategies for heats, semifinals and finals.

047 UP & COMERS: DANIEL DIEHL
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

011 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT THE STORY OF THE AUMAKUA?

030 2021 SWIM CAMP DIRECTORY

046 DADS ON DECK: BRENT BILQUIST

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

Swimming World is now partnered with the International Swimming Hall of Fame. To find out more, visit us at ishof.org

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