There’s a lot to be said about determination in the mind to overcome any obstacles, but there are definitely steps to be taken on the physical side of things to coincide with hurdling challenges.
Boulder High School’s Christian Feiler has trained dutifully to become Colorado’s fastest prep sprint swimmer, even putting another of his favorite sports on the back burner to achieve some specific goals before heading off to Princeton University in the fall.
He doesn’t just want to be the fastest this year. Rather, he wants to be the fastest prep sprinter in Colorado history.
“I set the goal to beat the state record in August last year,” Feiler said Tuesday night before leaving town for an Arena Pro Series Grand Prix meet in Mesa, Ariz., where 24 Olympic medalists will also be competing.
Forget aiming just to finish better at state than he did last year (Feiler placed fourth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 backstroke). Striving for such high goals means even more than just winning the state championship, too.
Which is why Feiler dropped basketball this past winter, spent a tad more time swimming and a considerable amount of hours in weight training. Specifically, Feiler has emphasized getting his legs stronger so that his power kicks come off as impossible to equal.
“What I’ve seen this year is him working on his kicking, which did not use to be a strong point for him,” said Boulder coach Curt Colby, adding Feiler will be a big part of the Panthers’ 200 medley relay, too. “When you’re off and streamlining, kicking is just so key. With him getting so serious about his strength training, too, that’s just bumped him up considerably.”
A lot of what he wants to do stems from observing the best swimmers in the world, both live and on television. At 6-foot-4, Feiler has similar length to well-known swimmers Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe.
Matter of fact, count Feiler as one of the hundreds and maybe thousands of boys swimmers who have studied Phelps’ techniques over the years. However, he’s had other influences.
“I’ve definitely watched countless hours of Michael Phelps, and that’s kind of where I learned to do my (entry dive) when I was like 10,” Feiler said. “You watch these guys in person, though, and you realize just how gargantuanly big they are. I mean they look strong on TV, but when get to see them, they are huge.
“One of the swimmers I’ve watched was Conor Dwyer, and he has more of a body type like mine. He’s even paced, and his endurance is ridiculous. I’ve been striving to be able to follow that, as well.”
Sub-21-second times in the 50 free have been all the more common for Feiler the past couple of months. His 21.02 mark at the Dick Rush Memorial Invitational last month was the fastest in the state until Air Academy’s Hunter Doerr swam a 20.56 last week.
Feiler’s best time so far is 20.67, coming in a club meet in December. However, Feiler said he has only swam the 50 once fully shaved and tapered, and that was also in December. His 100-yard time (45.96, also achieved at the Dick Rush invite) sits second as well.
While Daryl Turner’s state 50 record of 20.11 seconds (from the 2013 5A state meet) seems daunting, Feiler is confident that he can challenge it down the stretch this season.
“I’ve only swam the 50 once in that scenario, and I didn’t have the swim I was hoping for in order to make the next step,” he said. “But I’ve been putting in as much work as I can and lifting a lot, and I think if I have a great meet and everything goes well, it’s a possibility.”
This week will test Feiler’s stamina, as he plans to return from Mesa to swim in the Boulder County Invite on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton. Feiler is looking to hit his Olympic Trials cut in the long-course event, needing just about a tenth of a second to do so.
The BoCo Invite will also give him what he said was a great opportunity for a rested meet in the middle of the season.
Feiler said he feels simply racing more has helped him get better — both in body and in mind.
“Racing a lot helps you get in a rhythm, and it helps you deal with your nerves and dealing with any pressure,” Feiler said. “I think it’s the biggest contributor to what I am doing this spring.”