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by Elaine K Howley

November 28, 2016

Hedgepeth hooks ‘em with great workouts

Two-time Olympian and gold medalist Whitney Hedgepeth, 45, leads the 238-member Longhorn Aquatics Club in Austin, Texas. A cool 23 new members signed up during the August membership drive, making the TXLA the fifth club to receive a $1,200 pace clock from Colorado Time Systems.

Of that large group of registered USMS members who claim TXLA as their club, Hedgepeth says about 160 to 180 swimmers are active, which is a comfortable number to accommodate in their state-of-the-art facility at the University of Texas in Austin. “That’s kind of our happy number,” she says.

The Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center facility at the University of Texas, which was built in 1977 and modeled on the 1972 Olympic natatorium in Munich, boasts a 50-meter pool that’s “considered one of the fastest pools in the world due to its depth, gutter system, high filtration rate, and lane width,” according to the University website. The pool is 9 feet deep and has moveable bulkheads to change the arrangement of lanes, making it possible to accommodate lots of courses and programs.

The downside to this great facility for the Masters club is that they have to share it with all those other groups including an age-group team, the university’s men’s and women’s varsity swimming and diving, and various other programs, “so we get last dibs” on pool time she says. Nevertheless, TXLA Masters hosts 11 workouts per week, and Hedgepeth is on deck for 9 of them.

Coaching Masters at UT is Hedgepeth’s “full-time gig, and I also coach a summer league that my kids swim on,” she says.

The Masters club had “been around for a long time,” she says when she joined as head coach in 2004. Hedgepeth, who was named the Speedo U.S. Masters Swimming Coach of the Year in 2013 got into coaching age group swimmers right after leaving the world of competitive swimming after the 1996 Olympics and gravitated to coaching Masters not long after that. She says she enjoys working with the adults because “I like all the differences in people—what they do for a living, what their goals are physically, just all the personalities that are involved. I enjoy getting to know everybody,” she says.

Although winning the new pace clock was an unexpected windfall—Hedgepeth says she wasn’t even aware the contest was going on, and it was just a “really happy accident” of her usual recruitment activities—it will be a “big blessing” for the club, especially during the summer. Annually during the month of August, TXLA Masters relocates to a city pool while the UT pool is being cleaned and renovated. “That’s when the pace clock will come in really handy,” she says.

But it will also come in handy during other times during their training year. “There’s different cycles that we go through. Typically, at the beginning of the season, so after September, we’re trying to get in better shape so we do some open water swimming and practices where we run a mile and swim a mile and go back and forth. Then towards Christmas, we try to do a little more yardage, and then in the spring we try to do a little more speed work, so we’ll rotate through that. We’re really excited to get it because we don’t have a pace clock when we go outside. We just go off my watch,” she says.


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