In Practice + Pancakes, SwimSwam takes you across the country and through a practice day in the life of swimming’s best athletes. It breaks down training sessions, sub sets, and what every team is doing to be at their best. But why are they doing things that way? What’s the philosophy behind these decisions, and who’s driving this pain train? In Beyond the Pancakes, we dive inside the minds of coaches and athletes, getting a first hand look at why they do the things they do, and where their minds are pointed on the compass of evolution as a swimmer.
It’s what so many swim fans want to see: the very fastest possible, and then get faster. Training sprinters to be as fast as they possibly can comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and philosophies. For UVA head coach Todd DeSorbo, it means going as fast as you can. All the time.
DeSorbo started our interviewing by sharing a piece of a conversation he had with a track coach years back. DeSorbo asked the coach how he coached sprinters, and the track coach replied that he focused most of their time on the first 15-20 meters of a 100 meters race (in swimming terms, the start and breakout). This resonated with DeSorbo, for in his mind, building power and explosiveness takes much more time than building aerobic capacity.
This leads us to DeSorbo’s method. He uses lots of resistance coupled with maximum effort to train a sprinters body to explode off of the blocks and walls. When they aren’t going 100%, they are doing thoughtful drills and skill work to hone in on technique. In the weight room, DeSorbo tells UVA’s strength coach that he want’s his athletes to be able to dunk a basketball, with an emphasis on their vertical leap.