Miners swimming well at midseason
Miners head swim coach Matt Hayes has a little saying that could make a big difference for his team as they approach the region and state championships. "Act like a champion and you’ll win." Seems quite simple, but with a team as talented as Park City in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions, it is the mental confidence that can make the difference.
Hayes is mainly concerned about the girls. The boys are enjoying a newfound amount of depth and talent and the goal of a strong state finish is already in their sights. Things are somewhat opposite for the girls. This season they lost some of their marquee swimmers and also a bit of swagger. Hayes says that he has no doubt that they have the talent, they just need to sit down as team and determine their goals and motivate themselves about how well they can perform in the coming months.
"There wasn’t a unified goal this year with the girls," Hayes said. " The kids need to feel they have something to accomplish."
Luckily, there is still time to establish focus. The team took second to 5A state powerhouse Kearns on Thursday in West Valley and Hayes says that the team’s best performances are ahead of them.
"We weren’t going to win, but they are good competition," Hayes said.
"The Miners finished with 169 points. Kearns had 244 and a third team, Copper Hills finished a distant third.
The Miners turned in a few strong individual times, but Hayes explains that now is not the time in the year where students will be finishing with their best times.
Currently the team is working on speed training, which means that daily practices are spent swimming in race mode. This also means that effort on meet days is not that different than an average day for the Miners. The team has already finished the endurance and strength training portions of their season, and speed training will continue right up until the region meet.
During speed training, the team is traditionally slower, because they are so tired. Hayes says that much of the team is disappointed with individual results during that time, but it just isn’t the time in the season when the team swims fast.
A few Park City swimmers did manage to break through the intense training at Kearns.
Taylor Kinnebrew had two season-best times, finishing the 100-yard backstroke with a time of one minute and 3.1 seconds. He swam the 500-yard freestyle in five minutes and 29 seconds.
"He’s swimming very well and training really hard," Hayes said. "He’s one of the few doing well, because his training is at the right point."
Freshman Briggs Lyman lowered his 200-yard freestyle time by two seconds, dropping down to a time of 2:03.1.
For the girls, Julie Dye turned in a personal best time of 1:07.6 in the 100-yard butterfly.
Hayes says that with many difficult meets in the middle of the season, along with speed training, meet results can depend on details as small as what the swimmers are eating or the amount of sleep they get at night anything that might slightly affect their physical or mental stamina. Intensity levels tend to drop as well.
"With so many meets, you can see where different people perform well at different times," Hayes said.
Hayes says that the element that most swimmers lose is a "spring" in their stroke. They are worn out from swimming at race speeds all the time, but as they taper at the end of the season, the quality stroke work will return. Besides the mental challenge of swimming with confidence, Hayes is also trying to help his swimmers learn to overcome the mental challenges of training. Hayes hopes that as the team continues to improve, they will eventually get to the elite-caliber level, where training doesn’t affect meet performance. Top-level swimmers have the ability to turn in strong performances no matter the time of season, and Hayes is hoping to instill this in the Miners.
"Right now, I try not to set up expectations," Hayes said. "You should try and swim well no matter how you feel. That’s the challenge of high school coaching to teach them to perform well no matter how you feel. That’s a good life lesson."
Hayes says that this mind set makes the team better individual athletes.
"I think that’s one of the lessons you gain from swimming," Hayes said. "With all of the hard work, you should want to swim well."
For now, though, Hayes is very happy with how the team is looking and feels that they are progressing in the season in just the right manner.
The Miners will host the Wildcats and the Braves this Thursday, Dec. 15 at 3:30 p.m. at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center.
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