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North swim coach introduces team to CrossFit program

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Frogs with muscles?

That was a bit of a concern when Columbus North swimmers learned that coach Jim Sheridan was going to adopt a new CrossFit workout program this season.

A 39-year coaching veteran, Sheridan was intrigued by his personal CrossFit training program in relation to his swim program. He was so impressed with the regimen, he thought it could benefit his Bull Frogs.

So this summer when he put together his team’s workout schedule, CrossFit training was part of the Frogs’ dry-land routine.

“I was a little nervous,” said senior Emma Wyke, one of North’s top female performers. “It was so different and out of my comfort zone. It was a totally different drill than anything we’ve ever done.”

Eventually, though, Wyke warmed up to the idea. Although weight work and power-building exercises were included, the intense exercise-to-exercise rotation built cardiovascular strength.

“I definitely see how it has changed me,” Wyke said. “It actually makes me leaner. And I’ve enjoyed it just because it is different.”

The Frogs attend a CrossFit training session at 5 a.m. Thursdays at 812 CrossFit Gym. Plus, Sheridan has incorporated CrossFit training into their dry-land workout schedule at the high school.

“We have incorporated weight work, stretching, cardio fitness, plyometrics,” Sheridan said. “It’s about the intensity of exercises we do. It provides strength through endurance.”

So has it translated into faster times?

“I see much quicker movements in the water,” Sheridan said. “That’s one thing we look for in the sport of swimming.

“I also see fitter bodies when we are going to race. Plus we have an increased mental attitude because our swimmers are doing something other than traditional.”

North senior Sam Parker wasn’t sure about the program since they had never tried it before, and he was going into his senior season.

“I was a little skeptical,” he said. “I thought it was another fitness trend. But I have enjoyed it. I think it is fun. Things are constantly changing, and I can tell my cardiovascular has improved a little bit. My lung capacity is improving.”

Now Parker is happy Sheridan changed the Frogs’ workout regimen.

“Jim is a tough guy, and he loves to challenge himself, too,” Parker said. “The hardest part for me was a lot of pull-ups that we had to do. That definitely was hard.”

Parker said it is too early to tell if the workout will have a positive effect on his times.

“My times are all over the place right now,” he said. “But I think at the end of the season, it will help.”

Craig Holcomb, who owns 812 CrossFit Gym with his wife, Nicole, said CrossFit was a natural fit for the swim team.

“Our top two Olympic swimmers (Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte) both do CrossFit training,” he said.

Both Craig and Nicole Holcomb have enjoyed working with the swimmers.

“That is the largest group of people that age that we have,” Craig Holcomb said. “These swimmers are very dedicated, very hard workers. They were all very interested when they started, and we actually were surprised because they gave 110 percent. They respect Jim a lot.”

Craig Holcomb said it shouldn’t be a surprise that CrossFit training sets up so well for swimmers.

“Overall, it works on strength, endurance and mobility — everything a swimmer needs.”

Sheridan admits even an old Bull Dog can learn new tricks.

“All coaches can get stuck in a rut,” he said. “This is another program that has been afforded to us. We have seen Ryan Lochte dragging chairs and flipping tires, all these nontraditional weight training exercises. Some programs you see are just ‘I have to look good’ programs.

“This program helps you to gain strength through cardio work. I’ve enjoyed this all the way through.”

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