ST. JOHN | Was he training them to become championship-caliber swimmers or Jedi knights?
When USA Swimming master coach Bob Steele discusses the life-sparking properties of "Myelin" he sounds a bit like Obi-Wan Kenobi instructing Luke Skywalker on how to embrace the "Force."
"Myelin is a dielectric material that wraps around nerve fibers throughout our body," Steele said. "It helps increase the impulse speed between neurons."
While noting the philosophies cited in "The Talent Code", an innovative coaching book written by sports rehabilitation specialist Bill Knowles, Steele said there are training methods to make the "myelin shealth" insulating these axon fiber conduits more optimal to initiate quick-silver muscle movement and athleticism.
"You can create athleticism by forcing your body to do new things," said Steele, who has authored a book himself -- "Games, Gimmicks and Challenges for Swimmers."
A British Columbia, Canada resident, Steele formerly coached Cal State University-Bakersfield to five NCAA Division II national swimming titles and was named NCAA Division II Coach of the Year four times.
Steele was the head instructor for the Catch the Spirit Camp, which was held April 26 at the Lake Central Aquatics Center.
"I usually do these, nd serve as consultants for clubs and teams across the nation and world that have world-ranked swimmers," Steele said. "I recently worked with the Chesterton swim club, and four of their swimmers have volunteered to assist me here."
Representing the Trojans, who recently won their second-straight Indiana High School Athletic Association championship, were Blake Pieroni, Jack Wallar and Aaron and Ethan Whitaker.
In addition to the in-water instruction, the camp also had classroom sessions focusing on starts, turns ... and celebrating success.
"That's what these guys do that you guys should do," Steele said while referring to the four Trojans. "They celebrate their success and they have fun. If you don't do that, you won't last long in this sport."
The Chesterton swimmers also took questions from the campers.
"Who's my toughest competitor?" Pierson repeated a query before elbowing Aaron Whitaker standing next to him. "This guy."
Pieroni and Aaron Whitaker both won two individual titles at the state meet while setting three state records -- Pieroni in the 100 freestyle (43.52 seconds) and Whitaker in the 100 backstroke (47.06) and the 100 butterfly (46.31).
Chesterton also set two relay state and national records at the finals -- Pieroni, Waller, Aaron Whitaker and Gary Kostabade in the 200 medley (1:29.64); and Pieroni, Aaron and Ethan Whitaker, and Patrick Curley in the 400 freestyle (2:59.39).
"Here's another thing that sets these guys apart," camp director and Lake Central High School and club coach Jeff Kilinski said about the guest state champions, "all these guys know their personal-best times to the 10th of a second. Now how many of you guys know your p.r.'s?
"You've got to know these things if you want to know where you stand."
For Steele, it was his first visit to Lake Central and it's new Olympic-sized pool.
"Compared to the places I've been, this is really impressive," Steele said of the aquatics center.
Steele has traveled to world to train swimmers in places like Jamaica, Egypt, Columbia and Dubai.
"I found that people are basically the same all around the world," Steele said. "The governments are just different."