This Paralympian Swam Faster in One Coaching Session
Tye Dutcher corrected his stroke using the Endless Pools® current.
“I actually just got done with my training session,” Paralympian Tye Dutcher gushed one morning in early June 2021. “Today, I crushed it for sure. Last Saturday, I wasn’t feeling it, and we did it today, and I dropped three seconds. Pretty sweet!”
Tye has been working hard for the Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis. Among the many coaching innovations he’s exploring, he recently did his first ever Endless Pools swimming training session. He praised the “extremely innovative technology. It allowed for me to correct my stroke on the spot.”
Of course, that’s not all he’s doing to land a coveted Team USA position for Tokyo 2021. It’s been a long road, and it started with a childhood accident.
Recovery in the Pool
“I basically grew up in the pool,” Tye says. “I have four older siblings, and they all grew up playing water polo and swam in high school to stay in shape for polo season. And that’s basically what I did; that’s who I was.”
At age 11, Tye lost his lower right leg in a riding-mower accident. His family’s backyard pool was a significant part of his recovery. “When I first got my cast removed,” he recalls, “maybe three months after the accident, I got into the water right away. There’s something extremely freeing about being in the water. There’s true and utter freedom.
“I’m able to take my [prosthetic] leg off, and I just have to adapt to the imbalances and get stronger in certain other areas, like my core and upper body. That enables me to swim fast and to swim correctly. Post-surgery after my leg, the pool was everything to me.
“Being in the water for whatever injury you have, it’s almost perfect for recovering from that injury or post-surgery. It’s just right. There’s no other place that can give you that freedom or that opportunity to use every single muscle group and strengthen the smaller muscles.”
Becoming a Paralympic Swimmer
After Tye graduated high school, he “got offered to swim at the Olympic Training Center, to live and train there as an up-and-comer for Team USA. Within a year, I dropped four to five seconds on my 100-meter backstroke and made the 2016 Rio team – which was crazy!
“I still am extremely eager to learn and grow, and the coach I have now is one of the best I’ve ever had. He’s made me think about swimming in ways I’d never imagined. He adjusted my stroke from such old-school techniques to what’s going on today with guys like Caleb Dressel and Michael Andrew, who are awesome guys. I’ve been really growing.”
Part of that growth includes his recent coaching session with Glenn Mills, the Olympic swimmer behind GoSwim.tv. It’s the popular video-based program dedicated to helping people swim better and faster.
“I held pace!” As seen here, Tye backstroked against the top speed of the Endless Pools Elite current! In his coaching session with Glenn Mills, Tye says, “he built up the speed gradually, and I got more and more comfortable with it. When we were at top speed, I felt so comfortable. I was like, ‘This is it, right here. This is my pace!’”
Refining His Swim Technique
Coach Glenn has an Endless Pools Elite model, our top-of-the-line Original Series pool designed for world-class swimmers. Glenn customized his pool to 9-feet by 14-feet water area, which Tye found to be “super-spacious. That was my first time ever [in an Endless Pools model], and I loved it.
“You got the mirror on bottom and the mirror at the top for backstroke, and he has GoPros everywhere. It was incredible to have that. I swam in 50-meter pools with mirrors on the ground and on the walls, but that’s not the same at all; you’re not in one position.
“The first thing that we noticed was that my foot was swaying way out to the right and to the left as I was rotating and connecting through my stroke. So, we started to adjust that by initiating more core. With the [backstroke] mirror up above, I was able to see it.
“We worked a little bit on the connection with my shoulders throughout the stroke; I was able to see that perfectly. But the biggest thing was my foot swaying back and forth. And I was able to really dial it in because of the current. I think we set it at maybe a 1:05 pace and that was able to allow for me to do a steady stroke but still correct it.
“I’m just impressed with the technology,” he sums up. “It’s awesome.”
“I’m going to try to get another session with him soon just to make sure the stroke is looking correct, and then I’m going to work with my coach in the [competition] pool after.”
Tye has found that what he learns in the Endless Pools environment directly benefits his racing performance. “It’s a perfect translation, 100 percent. You almost need something like that on a daily basis. If I have one of those, I’d be able to correct my stroke before I head to practice. Then I go into practice with that in my mind, and faster times, they’re going to happen.
“As I’m heading home in my 100-meter backstroke, I’m going to feel tired, I’m going to feel the lactic acid, I’m going to feel it all. That’s when my stroke needs to be the best.”
The Road to Tokyo
“I always had that natural talent for the pool and swimming,” Tye reflects. “Any chance I can get to analyze my stroke and improve upon it is what I want. I’ve been doing this for four or five years now.
“I was never in club swimming in high school, so I never really got to work on my technique and get faster until now, in my adult life. I’m used to swimming head up freestyle for water polo.
“I love this sport! I’m hoping that Trials go well, and even if it doesn’t, it’s been an amazing ride,” he considers. “I’m at peace with anything that happens. There’s a lot more in life than just swimming, I know that. I want to be able to serve people and love on them. That’s something that I love to do.”
Even as he’s philosophical about the future, he clearly has his eyes on the prize. He quickly adds, “But I’m going to give it my all at Trials and crush it in Tokyo!”
The 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for swimming will take place June 17-20, 2021, in Minneapolis.