It’s a common assumption that swimmers must get wet to have a fulfilling practice. Trey Zepeda, strength and conditioning coach for the men’s swimming squad at the University of Texas, is drowning this misguided notion.
Zepeda employs dry land exercises, like Ramp ’n Wheels, when training the Longhorns. His program has captured three NCAA titles in the past seven years, and Texas leads the NCAA with seven U.S. Men’s Swimming Olympians.
Former Longhorn and four-time All-American Jeremy Harris comments on this revolutionary training technique: “In high school, we maybe did three days of lifting and dry land [training]. However, [in college] it’s over an hour of weights and an hour of dry land [per day]. It’s a lot more demanding and strict.”
Below, Zepeda explains Ramp ’n Wheels, a drill that mimics the movements and muscles used in the water, but doesn’t require goggles.
What you’ll need:
• A 35- to 45-meter ramp [115-148 feet] with an incline [stadium ramps work well]
• A set of wheels on a small board or platform [a skateboard works if it’s wide enough to fit both knees]
Ramp ’n Wheels Drill:
• Kneel on board/platform
• Keep back flat, hips down and knees behind you; raise chest and tighten abs
• Place hands on ground with fingers turned out and thumbs facing forward
• Elongate your body as much as possible
• “Walk” up the ramp, using your hands to drag hips, legs and feet behind you [as opposed to pulling]
Sets: Perform drill twice, resting only during your walk back down the ramp
Adaptation: Turn fingers inward and face thumbs down
Zepeda: “Ramp ’n Wheels is a close relation to what a swimmer actually does in the water, and [UT swimmers] all seem to benefit because it’s an aggressive pull on the shoulders and lats, which are the back muscles. It’s also a great trunk and core exercise. The ramp is a progressive resistance, so as you’re going up it gets tougher.”