U.S. State Coach On A Mission To Make Kate Douglass A NCAA Standout Receives Special Honor

Published 10/30/2023, 12:45 PM EDT

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In the past, especially in 2021, the University of Virginia’s women’s swimming team held the sport in a chokehold. With two Wahoos earning the Olympic medals and the NCAA Championship to boot, there was an all-around cause for celebration. Since then, the team’s wall of fame has become even more cluttered. But head coach Todd Desorbo pointed out it was not always so. What proved to be the game-changing strategy for the school?

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The UVA Aquatic Fitness Center has become a pantheon for the swimming world, with remarkable athletes like Kate Douglass, Gretchen Walsh, and Alex Walsh continuing to train and compete at the highest level. Todd Desorbo is a clever tactician and knew the difference it would make to add an Olympic medalist to the team. Recently, one such medal earner from 2021 revealed why she joined UVA instead of the top schools in the country.

Reasons for Kate Douglass’ swimming team choice

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In a USA Swimming YouTube video campaign for UVA titled “Data Dive | Off the Blocks Season 4 Episode 5”, Kate Douglass spoke on behalf of her teammates and revealed why she joined the team. She said, “I was really excited for the new coaching style”. But her fans were “shocked” by the decision because UVA wasn’t anywhere near the top three choices for swimmers.

However, Kate Douglass understood the value of the new training regimen that coach Desorbo was introducing. He calls it “swimming with a different style,” where the analytical aspect of the sport using high-tech equipment comes into play. Calling himself the “numbers guy,” this coach uses his background in accounting to his advantage. He was able to analyze data to identify areas for improvement and develop personalized training plans for each swimmer.

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During the video, he used diverse measuring technologies to record the data from his athletes’ practice. He considers himself “new school,” and this attitude was apparent in his sudden floss dance move of Fortnite fame. He has overturned the whole philosophy and culture of sport at UVA, but they have an even more lethal ace up their sleeves.

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Team UVA’s secret weapon

Whenever Ken Ono is not teaching advanced mathematics in the classroom, he is busy with the Cavaliers swimming team. The University of Virginia math professor uses new-age sensors and cameras to take shots of the swimmers. Thereafter, he puts this data into the computer and uses his expertise to generate revealing graphs about their performance. Russell Mark of UVA revealed Ono’s role, saying that he “graphs the swimmer’s acceleration and the g-forces acting against them and compares it to the efforts of some of the many world-class and Olympic athletes he’s worked with to identify opportunities for improvement and optimization”.

21-Year-Old Swimming Prodigy Kate Douglass Breaks Her Own Record for the 2nd Time

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Coach DeSorbo is glad to have Ono beside him to interpret the massive amount of data sheets at the end of every training session. He explained that without the mathematician’s expert insights, he would have failed to translate them correctly. Should all colleges follow their example and tie the mathematics department with the swimming team? Comment with your thoughts below.

WATCH THIS STORY: Revealed: Here’s How Swimming Queen Katie Ledecky Swims So Fast Without Getting Tired

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Written by:

Anchal Ahuja

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Anchal Ahuja is a US sports author for Essentially Sports. Her passion for storytelling and creating insights led her to delve into sports journalism. As an ardent follower of swimming, she idolizes the Baltimore Bullet Michael Phelps and draws inspiration from her famous quote, “The more you dream, the more you achieve.
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Edited by:

Shifa Jahan

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