Sea Sharks learn from Wyoming swimmers


With her notepad filling up, Marin Campbell, an assistant coach for the Craig Sea Sharks, intently took notes as University of Wyoming swim coach Tom Johnson talked about stroke technique. The Cowboys' coach offered the clinic to benefit the Sea Sharks as well as their coaches.

"He brought some new drills and different ways to approach teaching," said Cammie Hillewaert, head coach of the Sharks. "It's been educational for all of us."

Johnson and three of his student athletes were in Craig Monday and Tuesday for a clinic with 28 local swimmers. The clinic comes at the beginning of a busy summer for both Johnson and the Sea Sharks.

"Next week I travel back to Laramie for two, one-week camps," he said. "Then I go to Idaho, South Dakota and different spots in Wyoming for the rest of the summer."

The Sharks opened up their season Saturday in Steamboat Springs. The team has 60 members, an average number for the summer squad. This week provided an opportunity for the Sharks to learn from an outside instructor.

"We bring collegiate level techniques and usually its something that neither the coaches nor the swimmers have seen," Johnson said. "With a club that just swims in the summer like this one, the focus sometimes tends to be on getting the laps in. We come and focus primarily on the stroke technique."

As a swimmer at South Dakota State University, Hillewaert is familiar with collegiate techniques, but she recognized the benefit of bringing in a different coach.

"He breaks down each stroke and builds upon each technique really well for every level of swimmer," she said. "They use a lot of good word pictures for them to visualize what the swimmers should do."

Zach Vorhies, a junior next year on the Moffat County High School swim team was appreciative of what he learned during the two-day clinic.

"I was doing a lot of things wrong that I never really thought about," he said. "Before this I just swam. Now I think about what I need to do better."

Scott Usher is envious of the experience the young Sharks are getting.

"I never really got to have a coach like (Johnson) come and help me when I was younger," he said. "I would have jumped at the chance to have that."

The Wyoming junior from Grand Island, Neb., is now helping provide what he missed as a beginning swimmer when he travels with his coach to the clinics. Spending time teaching provides a break for the All-American, who will start training for the Olympic trials later in the summer.

"I enjoy spending time with the kids and going back to the time when swimming was all just for fun," he said. "We don't get too many breaks with practically a year around program, so this is nice."

While getting a break was a bonus for Usher, Johnson mentioned a benefit for him was opportunity to bring the clinic to the swimmers.

"This is nice because I don't have to worry about housing them or feeding them," he said. "It's a two-day situation that keeps things simple."

Vorhies said the camp close to home is what helped him sign up.

"I wouldn't be out here if it wasn't in Craig," he said. "All the other camps were $400 while this one was more affordable and closer."

With the clinic wrapped up, the Sharks will refocus on their own practices and the second meet of the season this weekend in

Grand Junction.

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