After many battles, the St. Louis U High swim team had an uninterrupted week to hammer away at their raw skills and forge themselves into new weapons as sharp as shark’s teeth. Last week, the swim team had the rare opportunity of having a week with no meets, but that certainly did not make it a rest period.

“We had the opportunity of six days of practice, which doesn’t really get to happen much mid-season,” said head coach Lindsey Ehret.

The week was dubbed “Hammer Time Week,” inspired by the great MC Hammer. Each day was influenced by a different song or album from MC Hammer. For example, Monday’s muse was “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em,” a reference to the fact that the practice was more of a recovery day, coming off of the team’s second place victory at CoMo. Tuesday’s practice was introduced with “Here Comes The Hammer,” marking the start of the swimmer’s grueling formation into speedy swordfish, sharpening their blades each day.

“Hammer week was inspired by (the Columbia meet),” said Ehret. “I was looking ahead and being very optimistic about how good we can be …  and so I wanted to come up with a theme that would get guys motivated, and MC Hammer is the ultimate motivator.”

Wednesday finally revealed the classic “U Can’t Touch This,” alluding to the SLUH swimmer’s sheer speed in the water, making them completely untouchable by even the hungriest of piranhas. Thursday was simply titled “Pray,” an ominous word when placed alone, and certainly appropriate for the events that followed.

A special aspect of Hammer Week was that every day each swimmer was working on his specialty, meaning all of the backstrokers were in a lane with their own unique workout, all of the breaststrokers in another lane, and so on. This separation and specialization allowed for the boys in blue to hone their craft and begin flowing through the pool as an otter flows through a lake.

“I created three different workouts for each of the four days, so that took a lot of time,” said Ehret. “But (the team) is worth it, and I know that it is really important to specialize and that doesn’t happen very much in high school swimming, (especially) to the level that we do it. I think it really ends up paying off.”

The conclusion of hammer week came on Friday with a practice titled “2 Legit 2 Quit,” designed to test the team’s endurance after a tough week of practice. While the week was physically exhausting, it evoked new highs of collective energy  from the swimmers. At the end of each day Ehret would ask, “Did you bring the hammer?” The idea of “bringing the hammer” was concurrent throughout the week, and became a mantra that motivated everyone to reach new heights. As compensation for their immense efforts, each swimmer was awarded an inflatable hammer with his name on it.

“We were actually way more energetic (as a team),” said senior Brody Nester. “Whenever you are doing some hard sets and you finish those hard sets, you feel really good. So, near the end you are more inspired to (motivate others) by saying something like ‘Let’s go boys, one more,’ to finish the rest of the set. Overall it creates a team bonding experience by just working hard together.”

With only 16 practices left for the St. Louis U. High swimmers, each lap carries even more weight as they approach the end of the season. After exhaustively hammering away at their resources in the forge, the swimmers have emerged with brand new tools as they prepare to soon conquer the entire state.

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