Trained Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Katie Ledecky for the 4 years leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Strength & Conditioning Coach for Nations Capital Swim Club and Rockville Municipal Swim Club.
18-year industry Veteran
Director of Training with Multiple organizations over the last 15 years
The Fitter and Faster Swim Tour doesn’t just allow young athletes to learn directly from elite athletes – it also allows swimmers to improve their agility and strength under the expert eye of athletic trainers. Lee Sommers is one who has helped guide many of our swimming heroes to the Olympic podium as well as developed tools to stay injury-free!
When people talk about Katie Ledecky’s technique and athleticism, the name that comes up most often is her coach, Bruce Gemmell. However, another part of her development can be credited to Sommers, the strength and conditioning coach to this Olympic gold medalist and multiple world-record holder.
He has been in the fitness industry for the better part of two decades and has spent most of that time as a Director of Fitness in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2013, he began working with members of Nation’s Capital’s National Team, including Ledecky and Carsten Vissering, a competitive breaststroker at the University of Southern California.
Sommers describes swimmers as “very different athletes.” And he doesn’t mean swimmers versus all other athletes – he means that the needs of each swimmer greatly differ across event and specialty. “Working with Carsten and Katie is like training two different species, in terms of stroke-specific needs, age and gender. A sprint breaststroker and a distance freestyler are dramatically different.” (Blog post from Lee: Athleticism for Age Group Swimmers)
After several years of working with swimmers, Sommers has garnered vast knowledge about the sport: So much so, that he can walk into a Fitter & Faster clinic and guess correctly as to which stroke an athlete specializes. “I just watch how they move as an athlete,” he says. Though each swimmer’s body differs, Sommers is able to challenge each participant to lay down proper neuronal patterns and connect proper muscular movements into their swim races.
Dryland workouts are incredibly helpful in developing athleticism – a key component that plays into each start, turn and powerful stroke. Sommers says:
“Think of swimmers as athletes. The more athleticism they build, the more skills they’ll develop that will just make them better overall athletes with better body awareness and better understanding of how their bodies need to move.” (Blog post from Lee: Two Drylands Exercises Every Swimmer Should Master)
Increased body awareness enhances body positioning and proper technical execution of each elements of competitive swimming. Whether your swimmer needs to increase core strength to have the tightest entry on the start or to quickly get their feet to the wall on open turns, Sommers is the man for the job.
While conducting Fitter & Faster dryland clinics for swimmers of all sizes and developmental levels presents certain challenges, Sommers has created an engaging and fun program for all: “I grab the participants’ attention and make the curriculum relatable and enjoyable. And I make sure they understand how dryland training can enhance their performance in the water and decrease risk of injury at the same time.”
While most fitness and strength programs lack specificity to how a swimmer’s body moves in the water or during races, Sommers has has years of experience learning the ins and outs of a swimmer’s developmental needs. He will work not only with the swimmers but also the coaches to figure out a training plan that works best for their specific needs.
What swimmer doesn’t want to swim faster with stronger, injury-free bodies? Register for Sommers’ next clinic today!