JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The importance of the setting wasn’t lost on Burnet High School junior and swimmer Seth Timmons.
Even though the natatorium was small and had no bleachers, Timmons knew the best American swimmers — including 2012 gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps — had practiced in the pool at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
And Timmons was about to jump in.
“It made me want to do better and excel at my sport, go to that level,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”
Timmons was at the training center Jan. 16-20 with his club swim team, Nitro, which is based in Cedar Park. He said Nitro was invited because it is nationally ranked.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “They’re fully equipped there. They filmed us. I got to see what I’m doing right. I’ve never seen myself in underwater film.”
Film is used to study swimming technique to help the athletes improve.
“The main thing is my turns,” he said. “(The coaches at the training center) helped me fix it up. I was too slow on my dives. I needed to utilize more power. We fixed it up.”
Timmons’ day consisted of four hours in the pool and an hour of land training that included strength and core exercises.
Swimmers also participated in a group activity, such as horseback riding, fencing or shooting, in between training.
“They had the Olympic athletes teach us how to do it,” Timmons said.
Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level, so Timmons had to get used to working out with less oxygen.
“It feels like you’re breathing through a straw,” he said. “Once you (leave Colorado), it’s easier to breath, you get more oxygen. Major athletes train for a month above sea level. They’ll feel 10,000 times better. The body has all this oxygen, they can perform better.”
He said Olympic coaches talked to Nitro team members about what it takes to be an Olympian and how to secure a college swimming scholarship.
“They look for mostly potential,” Timmons said. “If they see they can work you at your best, they want you. They look at grades and the type of athlete you are.”
Timmons was told that him being a distance swimmer was a plus.
“I have to keep working hard at it,” he said. “There’s not that many distance swimmers.”