Kyle Barker is a U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier, and University of Kentucky record holder in the 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard individual medley. He likes to begin his Fitter & Faster clinics by sharing with participants that he wasn’t always the tallest or strongest swimmer on deck. He emphasizes that athletes shouldn’t compare themselves to, or feel inferior to, swimmers that are bigger as that is not an indicator of success. Kyle says, “It doesn’t matter how strong or tall you are, it matters how hard you work.”
Kyle likes to make Fitter & Faster clinics super interactive, as he realizes that the long sessions can be challenging for young swimmers to remain focused. He runs short yardage drills and uses props such as pull buoys and kickboards while using visual cues on whiteboards in addition to explaining drills, as some young athletes may be visual learners while others are auditory learners.
While hard work is necessary for success in swimming, Kyle credits his support system with helping him stay focused and dedicated to the sport. Teammates are there to encourage you, and even commiserate with you during long hours in the pool. Kyle says, “It’s not just the individual going through the trials of swimming. Parents make a lot of sacrifices to ensure swimmers reach their full potential.” He also says that the influence of a coach can be pivotal in a young athlete’s life, acknowledging that he was lucky to have a coach who believed in his swimmers more than they sometimes believed in themselves.