Cutting Edge Training: East, North swimmers using Power Racks to help boost strength in water

Like any other sport, swimming coaches are looking for innovative ways to help their athletes improve.

One of those innovative tools the Columbus East and Columbus North swim programs are using this year is the Power Rack. The Power Rack is an apparatus with weights, a pulley system and a resistance belt that is used to help swimmers get faster in the water.

“They’re very good training tools,” East boys coach Doug Trueblood said. “It’s a cool piece of equipment because as a swimmer, you’re getting that resistance and extra weight and you’re getting that resistance on the way down. You get up on the water and feel really fast. Then on the way back, you’re getting that added benefit so they get what it feels like to get on top of the water and go fast.”

While East received its Power Rack just after the end of last season, North just got its last week through the senior project of swimmer Carlos Fabian Aguilar. An aspiring engineer, Fabian Aguilar designed and built the apparatus, and Sardinia Machine in Decatur County did the machining.

“This team has given me a lot back,” Fabian Aguilar said. “Since I moved here, they have become my family basically. So I just wanted to give back a little something, and I know something like this is going to help them.”

The Power Rack is stationed at the end of the pool. Weights are placed in a bucket and swimmers get in the water and tie on the resistance belt.

At North, the swimmers are timed to see how fast they can swim 10 1/2 yards. Then, they float back and do a set of 10. As the year progresses, coaches can keep track of swimmers’ speed.

“I think anytime you can add more tools to your toolbox, it’s a great thing,” said Brett Findley, the interim boys and girls coach at North. “This provides kids an opportunity to work on power and efficiency. It’s a great asset for our school and for the kids.”

Findley was the coach at Franklin Regional Swim Team when it added a Power Rack. Carmel, the top high school swim program in the state, uses it, and so does Indiana University.

“We’re just going to try to build as much strength as we can,” Fabian Aguilar said. “It’s a really competitive thing for the guys to see who can do the most. We’ve been trying this week, and as far as I can see from their faces, they really like it. I’ve seen a lot of teams like Franklin and Carmel and even the pools at IU, they have some kind of mechanism like this that helps them train better, and I thought doing something like this was going to help us train like the best and become one of them.”

Fabian Aguilar, who plans to major in industrial engineering at Purdue, began working on the project in late September. He estimates he spent about $300-$400.

East, meanwhile, paid about $2,000 for its dual-weighted Power Rack through fundraising efforts. Trueblood said a single-weighted Power Rack cost about $1,300 to $1,400.

“That’s some of the fundraising that we’re asking our athletes to do to get some of that type of equipment,” Trueblood said. “We’re trying to update our training methods to maximize our potential. That’s something that gets lost on the community sometimes. We try to give kids the best opportunity to compete at their highest levels, and sometimes that’s hard to do without the funds that we’re bringing in to help them.”

The East girls are just starting to use their Power Rack, as well.

“I think it’s a great piece of equipment to have,” East girls coach Jill Arnholt said. “It gives the girls a chance to try something different and mix things up. It helps them work on their stroke and get a feel for the water, and we’re looking to incorporate it into our practices this season.”

Columbus North at Columbus East swimming

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Columbus East High School

Admission: $6. Doors open at 4:45 p.m., and masks are required.