Wearing a Tennessee coach's shirt, Bill Boomer was closely watching UT's athletes Friday during the second day of the Tennessee Invitational swimming and diving meet.
However, while coach Matt Kredich and his assistants likely were looking at the swimmers' effort and placement in the race, Boomer was watching their body language.
"Swimming athletes talk to you in body language every single minute they are in the water," he said during a break at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. "When you speak to them verbally, you are speaking to their body language."
The 75-year-old Boomer — a longtime former University of Rochester coach who also coached in the 2000 Olympics and does coaching consulting work — is helping Tennessee on a volunteer basis.
He actually lives in Pennsylvania, but travels to Knoxville several days a month or meets the team at out-of-town meets.
The work, he said, came out of a series of conversations he had with Kredich at the end of last season, when they realized they had similar outlooks toward swimming and life.
As a result, Kredich asked him if he could help the Tennessee team, and they negotiated what his volunteer duties would be.
"Matt is a great swim coach," said Boomer. "And I've never met a young staff with so much ability and qualifications."
To listen to Boomer talk is more like sitting in a philosophy or psychology class than a swimming strategy session. For example, he says such comments as, "It's about a person's readiness to water — how safe they feel and how threatened."
And he does not bother to pay attention to a swimmer's hands and feet when trying to help them.
"I have conversations with them about their line on their body," he said. "The errors that occur do so on the body line."
Friday night during the second-day finals, the body lines were definitely working well for UT. With 801 points, the men lead second-place Kentucky (684) and Duke (486). The Lady Vols lead the Wildcats, 868-565, with Colorado State (519.5) in third and Duke (407.5) in fourth.
Leading the way for UT were Tristan Slater and Kelsey Floyd with two wins each. Slater won the 400-yard individual medley (3 minutes, 55.81 seconds) and the 200 freestyle (1:40.13) for the men, while Floyd finished first in the 100 butterfly (53.26) and 200 free (1:48.18) for the Lady Vols.
Other individual women's winners included Molly Hannis in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.73) and Tori Lamp in the 1-meter springboard diving (305.25 points).
The final day of competition today will conclude with finals beginning at 4:30 p.m.