Club dives into its busy season

Annapolis Swim athletes prep for summer contests

June 21, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Swim Club's athletes keep busy throughout the winter, training and competing on a regular basis. But now that summer's here, the ASC people are busy.

They have shifted their training to the outdoor pools in the area and are preparing for some big summer competitions, starting this week in Florida.

Coach Ken DeGruchy is taking 26 swimmers to Fort Lauderdale for the Florida International Age Group championships at the Swimming Hall of Fame starting tomorrow.

The club also will come to Baltimore and travel to Buffalo, N.Y., for another competition later in the summer.

"It's pretty similar training," DeGruchy said. "Most of the time, the kids are in the pool in the winter time ... in the evening. But now we do it in the morning."

The swimmers come to the pool from 6:30 to 9 a.m. Monday through Sunday to train. The younger kids - age 10 and younger - go from 7:15 to 8:45 to get their work in. DeGruchy said it's different now because during the winter, kids come to the pool after a long day at school and doing their homework, which can make them tired.

But training early in the morning can be good for them. DeGruchy said the swimmers can feel like they have accomplished something in their day after the morning workouts.

Summer training is different, in general, because most programs move kids outdoors to do their work. DeGruchy's team trains during the winter at the Arundel Olympic Swim Center.

In the summer, DeGruchy said the club rents local pools in the area to get the kids the outdoor work they need.

They use the Arundel pool and facilities at Farmington Village, the Chartwell Country Club and University of Maryland, Baltimore County's outdoor pool.

Outdoor work is important in a number of ways.

"The big difference is that you're swimming in a larger pool," he said. "It's a big difference because it's less turns and it is a longer distance. A lot of times when we train outdoors and we transfer back indoors, the kids think it's so short. They feel like they've been training all season in a longer pool - it's really psychological."

The indoor program goes from September through May, when everyone moves outside for the summer.

Peter Eddy, aquatics director of the Annapolis Swim Club, said that the sport probably has benefited from the success of local swimmer Michael Phelps, the six-time Olympic gold medalist.

"I think he raised the profile, particularly in this area, because all the kids know who he is," Eddy said. "I think it's a higher profile. One of the nice things, which I think continues to be the attraction, is that we don't make a lot of cuts. As long as we've got space for you in the water, and you're willing to make the practice, you can be here."

Swimming not only is a great way for staying fit, swimmers' conditioning allows them to easily switch to other sports.

Eddy has seen several athletes change from swimming to other things such as cross country or distance running when they get older - benefiting greatly from understanding how to be in shape and stay that way.

DeGruchy is hoping that kind of work pays off for his swimmers in this summer's meets. The Florida event will match ASC athletes against swimmers from all over the country - as well as against international swimmers.

DeGruchy said swimmers from South Africa, Australia, Mexico and Guatemala are scheduled to compete in the four-day meet.

The ASC also is scheduled to come to the North Baltimore Aquatics Club for a four-day competition in July.

Then, in August, the swimmers are scheduled to travel to the University of Buffalo for the Eastern Age Group Championships, another four-day event.

These are the only three meets that the ASC participates in during the summer.

In the winter, the swimmers compete about once a month, in addition to their regular training schedule. DeGruchy said they'll simply continue their work during the summer, and that his swimmers realize it's all just part of continuing their training.

"We just give the kids an opportunity to have more time in [the pool]," DeGruchy said. "It's a short season, and you come in [in the morning] and get your work done, and get the rest of the day to themselves."

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