EX-UT coach still in the swim

Kim Brackin works with elite clients who use an ‘end­less pool’ in her back­yard.

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - D

Al­ways

ea­ger to swim faster, I hopped on a pool ver­sion of a tread­mill and let a former Univer­sity of Texas swim coach pick apart my tech­nique.

Former Longhorns head women’s swim­ming coach Kim Brackin has resur­faced, this time as the head of her own per­sonal coach­ing busi­ness, Brackin Elite Swim Train­ing, or BEST.

She works one-on-one with clients who swim in an “end­less pool” in her back­yard in Hyde Park. The pool, slightly longer than a king­sized bed, is rigged with cam­eras and mir­rors be­low and above the water, so swim­mers can watch them­selves as they swim. Brackin stands nearby, keep­ing a care­ful eye­ball on each client and dip­ping a small video cam­era into the water to cap­ture it all for later ref­er­ence.

I felt sort of like a salmon head­ing to its spawn­ing ground as I chugged into the cur­rent, which can be speed ad­justed. ( Just don’t crank it up too high or you’ll be blown back­ward like a gnat in a fire­hose.)

It took a few min­utes to get over the fact that I could watch my­self swim­ming in the mir­rors. Af­ter about 10 min­utes of plug­ging away, Brackin tapped me to tell me to stop. She rolled up a TV mon­i­tor and we watched my stroke.

She pointed out the good with the bad — my stroke is kind of spi­dery look­ing, be­cause I dig with my shoul­ders and arms in­stead of let­ting my big­ger core mus­cles do the hard work. At the same time, she noted that my stroke is nar­row and my arms and legs don’t flop around a lot, cre­at­ing a lot of need­less water re­sis­tance.

We talked about how I could make my stroke more ef­fi­cient by driv­ing more with my core mus­cles. She sug­gested a few drills, which we worked on right there in the pint­sized pool. Later, she emailed me video clips that she shot dur­ing our ses­sion. It gave me a lot to think about the next

day, as I hopped into the pool for my reg­u­lar swim team prac­tice at West­ern Hills Ath­letic Club.

“I just think this en­vi­ron­ment is so unique,” Brackin says. “You put the per­son in this pool where they can be an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in their learn­ing and can make real-time ad­just­ments. Peo­ple love that feed­back. And it’s fun.”

Brackin works mainly with high-per­for­mance swim­mers and triath­letes, in­clud­ing Austin­based pros Pa­trick Evoe and Terra Cas­tro. Brackin is an Iron­man Triathlon fin­isher her­self and has more than 20 years of col­le­giate swim coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing six at UT, which re­leased her in April. Dur­ing her coach­ing ca­reer, she’s worked with top ath­letes in­clud­ing Olympic medal­ist Kirsty Coven­try.

Ses­sions cost $150 an hour or $800 for six ses­sions. Those who sign up for an in­ten­sive three-day camp can stay right on the prop­erty, in a guest house in Brackin’s back­yard.

For more in­for­ma­tion go to www.brack­ineliteswim­train­ing.com.

New youth triathlon in Round Rock

Triathlon, a team sport?

That’s the idea be­hind a new youth triathlon league based in Round Rock.

Boris Robin­son, head of T3 Mul­ti­sports, says the Lon­es­tar Youth Triathlon En­vi­ron­ment, or LYTE, will work sim­i­larly to a base­ball or soc­cer league. Each mem­ber team — and so far there are five around the state — will host an event. The teams will travel around Texas to com­pete in those events and other youth triathlons.

Ath­letes will race as in­di­vid­u­als, but earn points that will count to­ward team to­tals. They’ll wear team uni­forms and train to­gether, too.

The league sys­tem brings fa­mil­iar­ity to par­ents. “With triathlon, par­ents only see it as an in­di­vid­ual sport,” Robin­son says. “They don’t know how to get kids in­volved in it or train them.”

The league and its mem­ber teams, which in­clude groups from Dal­las, Vic­to­ria and Col­lege Sta­tion, can help, he says.

The goal is to get more youth in­volved in the sport and de­velop more youth teams. The league will com­ple­ment the Youth Triathlon Se­ries now in place in USA Triathlon’s South Mid­west Re­gion.

Kids can learn a lot from triathlon, he says, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity and work­ing with oth­ers. Un­like other team sports, in triathlon ev­ery­body gets to play and there are no time outs.

“A lot of kids on soc­cer teams sit and watch for the most part,” he says. “With triathlon there’s both — it’s an in­di­vid­ual event to com­pete in, but there’s also the team con­cept.”

Robin­son has cre­ated a Youth Triathlon Academy at T3 Mul­ti­sports. About 30 young ath­letes, ages 7 to 15, get to­gether one to five days a week to swim, bike and run.

For more in­for­ma­tion go to tri­lyte.org. Con­tact Pam LeBlanc at 445-3994.

JAN­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN JAY

Former Longhorns head women’s swim­ming coach Kim Brackin trains clients at her home.

Pam LeBlanc

JAY JAN­NER PHO­TOS / AMER­I­cAN-STATES­MAN

Former Univer­sity of Texas swim coach Kim Brackin watches Pam LeBlanc’s swim­ming style as LeBlanc works out in Brackin’s back­yard “end­less pool” Dec. 17.

Kim Brackin, (right), trains Pam LeBlanc at Brackin’s back­yard pool Dec. 17.

Kim Brackin, (left), and Pam LeBlanc watch a video of LeBlanc swim­ming in Brackin’s “end­less pool,” where she trains clients in her back­yard.

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