What a great experience for 14  Racer X swimmers and me! We spent 3 days training in Colorado Springs.

One practice was at Pikes Peak Training Facility with George Heildinger, a Pittsburgh native who owns the facility.

The rest of the trip was at the Olympic Training Center where past Olympians have trained.

Racer X swimmers did over 33,000 meters in the pool at 6,300 feet above sea level, meaning the air was much thinner. Racer X also did Dryland training at the nicest facility I have ever seen.


During one of the practices, the swimmers were taped with 3 different video cameras.

The swimmers adjusted far better than my expectations. There was no altitude sickness. All the swimmers were required to have water bottles at all times.

The food at the Olympic Training Center was healthy and all you can eat. Yum!!!

We stayed in remodeled Air Force barracks. The kids had fun. It was like a dorm setting.


The swimmers bonded wonderfully, becoming a closer team. I interviewed every swimmer in a talk-show format, learning new things about them.


Our next trip is already in the planning stage.


~Coach Jim


Being able to train and stay at the Olympic training center was such a valuable experience. It was so fun to be able to eat the amazing food and train at an amazing complex. I also got to have fun and get closer to my teammates. Having doubles everyday training at altitude in a long course pool definitely made me a better swimmer. I now have the confidence to do things I didn’t know I could do before. It also makes me excited and confident about the upcoming season. Overall, training at the OTC was a great experience and has helped me tremendously.

~Abby Flood


Overall the trip to OTC was an amazing experience with the team. Although the workouts were brutal and very pain excruciating they helped me develop a better sense of mental toughness and pushing myself to edge whenever I thought I couldn’t anymore. Outside of the pool the amount of food I ate was beyond imaginable, everyday we had an open buffet and MTO grill that would help me recover and prepare myself for the next practice that was going to be either just like the last or even worse. If I could come back and do it all over again I would just hopefully with a less meters per practice and more time in the gym with Jim!!

~Kimani Gregory


Overall the OTC was a great experience. Being at a place where hundreds of olympians had stood/swam was a crazy dream like experience. Being in the pool where olympians have trained everyday to achieve great things, motivates me to start working harder than i ever have before. The OTC was also a great team bonding experience, we all became closer than ever, we are now like a family. Becoming closer to all my teammates will help to make practices even more enjoyable. Even though the practices were the hardest practices i’ve ever done in my life i know i will becoming back to Pittsburgh stronger and faster than ever. I also had some of the best food i’ve ever had in my life and an added plus, it was an all you can eat buffet! I can’t wait to come back!!  

~Zoe Skirboll


 I thought the trip to Colorado was really enjoyable. I would do it again. Every thing was awesome, even the swim practice. The practices were extremely difficult because of the altitude. But I definitely think it was worth it, it will make all of us a lot faster.


   My favorite part was the food, it was absolutely delicious. I also thought that staying in the dorm was pretty fun. It was all pretty awesome and I would definitely do it again

~Noah Long


Recently, some members of our team were fortunate enough to go on a 4 day trip to Colorado Spring, Colorado. We spent each day having 2 practices and a dryland session along with a Safe Sports lesson on being nice. We were lucky enough to stay in renovated army barracks which were on the really nice campus with awesome food.


Since Colorado Springs has much higher altitude then Pittsburgh it was significantly harder to get air and go fast. To pair this along with more intense practices was a real struggle. But the overall point of the trip is when we came back home, it would be significantly easier than before since we were training in altitude.

~Zach Zornan Ferguson


OTC was an amazing trip I got to experience. It was so cool to be able to train where Olympians have previously trained. I had a lot of fun with team bonding and practice. The practices we did will tremendously help with achieving my goals and my teammate's goals. The food there was very good. Being able to practice at George's pool was very cool as well. It was a nice 10 lane pool. The view of the mountains was amazing. I had so much fun and trained hard, I hope I will be able to return to the OTC in the future.

~Phong Tran


I really enjoyed my experience at the OTC and the other places before that. Pike Peaks was a beautiful pool and I enjoyed swimming there. The scenery there was also amazing. I also really enjoyed the OTC campus. The pool and the gym were very well kept and were full of cool equipment. I had fun each night with my friends while eating, swimming, and hanging out at our dorms. Overall, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot from this great experience.

~Talia Bugel


Trip summary (hopefully I did this right):  Day one we went to the airport. Some people had massive bags and some people barely brought anything (me).  We arrived at holiday inn. The pizza was quite great at night. Day two we went to pikes peak pool and that was a pretty sweet pool.  We then went to the OTC and practiced. It was hard. Day three in the morning practice was hard, but I flipped a water bottle and it landed, so we didn’t have to do 4x100’s on 1:12 with fins.  That was my most memorable moment. At night that practice was hard and I died even more. The next day I was even more dead. The pain was real, but the food was good. Overall, the Olympic training center was an amazing place.   It was super cool to see all the Paralympic athletes. The weight room was awesome because the equipment was so diverse. On the last day we didn’t have practice, and thank gosh because I don’t think I could have survived.

~Braden Zuchowski


The trip to The OTC was a really great experience that helped us to get better as a team. The trip was a good one because we were able to see where the olympians train and all of the amazing facilities that the OTC has to offer. The practices were great cause they pushed us each day in order to make us better. We can now use this trip as a motivation to want to get better and try our hardest in practice in order to get there some day as an Olympian. Pikes Peak was a fun time having pizza together and hanging out along with going to the amazing facilities that George had to offer at Pikes Peak Athletics. Most of all the best part of the trip was hanging out and having fun with all of the other swimmers each and every day on the trip whether it be in the van or at dinner or in the room. If I had the opportunity to do this again I would do it in a heart beat.

~Ethan Tulenko


The trip to OTC was an experience of a lifetime. When I first stepped outside in the morning I was amazed to see the enormous mountains all around me. Even at our first practice at Pikes Peak, I was able to look out the windows and see them. Furthermore, we arrived at OTC and we were reminded that we're not here to goof off, we were here to train hard. So we practiced hard, we pushed through the high altitude, the exhaustion, and the hard sets. Yes, it was hard ,but we all knew it was going to pay off in the

meets to come. And again OTC was a great experience I enjoyed being able to train where champions have trained   before. Therefore, this experience taught me to keep pushing through practice even though it's just easier to quit and the idea that maybe one day I'll return for the real deal. Thank you Coach Jim for

taking us on this great journey.

~Noah Loper


The trip to the Colorado Olympic training center was definitely a new experience for me. It was really fun getting to fly out the team and not having everyone fly on different flights. It was also fun bonding with the team. It was great talking to different people that I normal don’t talk to during practice. It was also great knowing that the people around me are also working super hard to try to get closer to their own goals and to get better as a swimmer. The practices were the hardest practices I may have ever done. But I was able to push through them and finish every set. With every hard set there was an easy set to get our heart rate back down which I really liked. I thought it was nice to do a hard set then have something easy after to help me recover from the hard set. There was nothing that I really didn’t like. The trip was really fun and I enjoyed having the opportunity to go on this trip. It was really helpful and I feel like it will help me to go faster in practice and help me reach my goals

~ Emma Wise


Traveling to Colorado Springs was a incredible opportunity for me to train and to grow closer with my teammates over the 4 day trip. Training at the OTC prepared me physically and mentally for the upcoming season by training me harder than I've ever trained and building my willpower to push myself further than I thought possible.

I registered for the trip only two days before we left, excited for a 'fun' trip with some hard practices-nothing I thought I couldn't handle. Little did I know. Day 1 went well as we all worked to adjust to the thinner air 6,000 feet up. We all felt a little tired after our two practices and dryland but nothing could have prepared me for day 2. Hopping into the pool Saturday morning was a struggle in itself. The practice was one of the hardest I had ever done and I was the most tired I had ever been in my life and it was only 9 a.m. We still had a seminar, practice, and a dryland workout to go that day. After stretching and napping, I was more mentally prepared for the night practice, but it wasn't any easier. Walking the 3 flights of stairs to our dorm had never seemed so tough. Sunday I was determined to stay motivated and ready, despite the pain. After morning practice I stayed loose and recovered in preparation for the final practice of the trip. We worked through the final two hours together and cheered when we made it out alive. The intense workouts totaled more than 20 miles of swimming over the short stay.

Outside of the pool, I got to know my new teammates better by spending meal time and free time together, hearing each other's interviews, and by collectively being in a constant state of pain. Despite only being at Racer X for two weeks now, I feel like I really got to be a part of the team. The tough workouts and the team's atmosphere couldn't have provided a better way to start of the short course season.

~Andrew Pierre


During our stay at the OTC I learned many things that helped me become a better  swimmer in practice and a better person

on the pool deck. I discovered how hard I needed to work in practice and in meets and I feel like the otc has also mentally prepared me for them too. When I came back from the otc on Tuesday for practice I felt like an entirely different swimmer. I feel like I can accomplish anything now. The otc made me think twice about swimming  and made me have a passion for it now.

~Emmanuel Drapptz


During this trip, I have learned a lot especially from the experiences I have been given. For the past four days, (Friday-Monday) I have been working very hard to accomplish my hopes and dreams and to one day even swim at the Olympic Training Center, as an Olympian. This experience has allowed me to reflect upon myself to see where I need to improve and become a better swimmer.

   When I arrived at Colorado Springs I thought to myself, “This is going to be hard” and as I expected it was. But no one said it was going to be easy they said that it would be worth it. And so I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion but afterward, I had this feeling in which I had clarity where all the anxiety and anger and frustration was gone.

   People always ask me, “Why do you swim?” because they don’t understand the physical and emotional attributes that swimming contains. And I always tell them, “Because I absolutely love it and whenever I work as hard as I do when I swim, I have the feeling of relief and as though all the stresses of the world are gone.” In conclusion, this trip has pushed me to my best and I would absolutely do it all over again even through the pain and exhaustion that will make me a better swimmer.

~Ethan O’Connor