Everything starts somewhere.
For the Troup County Sharks swimming team their starting point comes with the stare of head coach William Yin. He has expectations for every swimmer in his program, newcomer or veteran.
Yin demands his swimmers full attention and their optimum effort. Hard work is very often the difference between first place and last place.
The coach is constantly challenging his swimmers, and Yin was doing that very thing at the Monday afternoon practice at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center. Yin gave his Sharks senior swimmers 2,500 yards of stress and strain. Nobody quit the drills.
“I’m looking for grit,” said Yin, the coach and the mathematics professor from LaGrange College.
Yin is a teacher from the hilly campus to the wet aquatic center. The Sharks practice at a tedious pace four days a week.
“How you practice is how you compete. I like to see how they respond to me correcting them. We’re trying to minimize the drag (in the water). You need to be streamlined, and you have to push through the pain,” said Yin. “The kids want to do well, and I hold them accountable. We have a routine.”
Winning is the goal, but so is individual improvement. When a swimmer cuts his or her time, they are winning at one level. In that swimming sense, Belinda Hart has been winning for the last two years for the Sharks.
Hart is a coach in the water. This 15 year old leads by example, and she gets just as tired as the next swimmer. But she isn’t slowing down. Hart knows what her swimming assets are.
“I have real long legs, and they are strong. I know how to push myself. I have a great rhythm. I work the wall, and I stretch in the water. Swimming is my biggest outlet. I have a lot to improve on,” said Hart, the sophomore from Troup High School.
Hart is getting faster, and competing is her routine. She is cutting seconds in most of her events – the 50 freestyle (29.02 seconds), the 100 butterfly (1:14) and the 100-yard freestyle (1:00).
Besides Hart there is Carson Tarwater, a teenaged workout king and a new member of the Sharks. He is a smooth, fluid sprinter. Tarwater is learning and splashing.
“I want to get better. Swimmers need a lot of technique. But I am tall with long arms,” said the 6-foot Tarwater.
He is being forced to his outer limits with each Sharks practice. William Yin is seeing to that. The coach is cutting no one any slack.
“Swimming is one of the more complex sports with conditioning, discipline and technique,” said Yin.
He is teaching always, and his swimmers are grasping and breathing hard.