Dedication to the Xavier Prep swimming program has begun even before a group of incoming freshmen step on campus when school starts.
The freshmen have been gliding through the water this week at the Brophy aquatic complex at an inaugural camp/clinic hosted by Xavier head coach Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin.
The six girls, plus a sophomore-to-be will join six other freshmen for tryouts in August.
It is an indication that the program’s numbers are growing. Another factor would be momentum gained from a fourth-place finish at the state meet, a promising sign.
The camp was held daily from 2-4 p.m., but the girls began their day at the pool by watching videos in a classroom that outlined the various strokes, performed by Olympians. Then the girls hit the pool to show what they have learned.
The workouts were incrementally timed in order to avoid the girls becoming overexposed to the heat that approached the upper-digit teens.
“Believe it or not, you can sweat in the water,’’ Rankin said before taking a dip herself. “That is why you need to make sure you are hydrated. We also have some ice in the classroom that helps.’’
Having the girls in the pool enables them to get accustomed to Rankin’s coaching style, to get to know her before the team starts practicing for real.
“Most of these girls have participated in club swimming. It’s difficult for them to try to make the team without it,’’ Rankin said. “I have seen most of them swim even before this.’’
The girls appear to have nice, smooth technique.
“They all have something different, one (stroke) that they feel they are better in,’’ Rankin said. “But I am encouraging them to be proficient in all four strokes (back, breast, freestyle and butterfly). Because when you come to try out, you might find that one or two other girls might be just a little better than you. But if you continue to work hard in all the strokes, you never know, you could wind up swimming in an event that you had not given much consideration.’’
Essential to swimming success is the manner in which the athletes breathe.
“It helps give you a good training base aerobically,’’ Rankin said.
The swimming camp evolved out of a decision by the Arizona Interscholastic Association to allow sports to practice year-round.
“A year ago, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do this,’’ Rankin said. “I think word will get around to more and more girls, including the younger ones in the diocesan (grade) schools. We could perhaps have it earlier in June when it can be a little cooler and divide it into two groups, one for the older kids and another for the younger ones.’’
A good plan is in place and appears to have the potential to get even better.