How student-athletes fuel themselves


Blake Klade, a swimmer on El Camino’s swim team, with his favorite hydration product, Liquid I.V. He says two of them in a bottle of water feels like drinking six of them. (Matheus Trefilio | The Union)

El Camino College is not only recognized nationally for its academic program, but the college also sports a successful athletic department with over 20 teams in active competition.

The student-athletes who play for those teams all have unique and varied routines to prepare for their respective practices and events. Student-athletes are required to take 12 units per semester to remain eligible for competition.

First-year swimmer and business major Blake Klade, who swims the 500-yard freestyle, expressed the importance of staying hydrated before he goes out for a swim meet.

“To prepare for my training and meets, I like to drink Liquid I.V.,” Klade said. “Drinking a lot of water in between events can hurt my swimming speed.” Liquid I.V. is an electrolyte solution used for hydration purposes.

While Klade also eats snacks before each practice, he does not recommend swimming on a full stomach.

“I’ll eat a protein bar or a small amount of food before my warm-ups,” Klade said.

Swimmers practice six times per week. On weekends, they usually swim three events at their meets, most often two times on the same day.

“It’s hard to wake up on a Tuesday morning, come here, and do cardio,” Klade said. “After that, I got classes, and then I’m at the pool for our regular practice.”

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the swim team has a dryland workout session that may vary between cardio and weight training. Those workouts are led by new assistant coach Seth Ulrich.

“I’ve been pushing weights since high school, and that helped me a lot,” Ulrich said. “I’m trying to pass to them some of the things that have helped me during my time as a student-athlete.”

Steven Olsen, now in his second season on the El Camino swim team, is not a fan of working out on land, but understands its importance of consistently maintaining fitness levels in both the pool and on land.

“I would rather do a swim set than running around the soccer field,” Olsen said. “Saying that, I haven’t missed a single morning workout.”

While swim team members need to stay energized during the busy workloads they take on during a normal week, Klade said it is just as important to maintain the same energy during game time.

“Right before I get in the water to compete, I’ll eat some sort of candy to give me some fuel,” Klade said.

As for Olsen, his preparation for a team meeting begins early.

“I always eat a peanut butter sandwich before going to a meet,” Olsen said. “When I get there, I’ll drink a protein shake, and that fuels me up.”

Swimming demands strength and physical energy for an athlete to be a fast and consistent swimmer. However, there are sports at El Camino on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Among those sports is golf, which in contrast to swimming, only practices twice a week, according to second-year player and film major Evan Diaz.

“We practice on Mondays and Wednesdays,” Diaz said. “Those are the days that we have our matches as well.”

Although the team has strength-based workouts during its season, the greater focus relies on repetition and memorization of the courses and their hazards.

Although Diaz has a different focus for game preparation, he said he does not worry about staying energized before each round.

“I like to listen to music before I go out for my round,” Diaz said. “It definitely hypes me up.”

For practice, the golf team focuses on fixing mistakes made in previous competitions, learning stats and yardage so they are aware of what to apply for the next game.

With the focus of golf being more mental than it is physical, Diaz said he meditates after training to relax.

Even though the current seasonal sports have varying workloads due to practices, meetings, events and games, off-season sports, such as water polo still have ongoing practices.

Captain of the men’s water polo team Zack Johnson is one of the athletes going through the offseason program.

“We practice every Tuesday and Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 9:25 a.m.,” Johnson said.

Besides practice time, Johnson laments that he is not able to do more training on his own.

“I wish I had time to go to the weight room on my own,” Johnson said. “With classes, and working four days a week, I just have not been able to do it.”

Even though water polo takes a lot of time and energy, Johnson said it is a great sport to be a part of.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” Johnson said. “But I’m proud of being part of the [water polo] team for the past two seasons.”