To Edmonds-Woodway boys swimming and diving coach Nolan Welfringer, Anton Teplouhov just looks like he belongs in the water.
“He has a really good natural feel for the water,” Welfringer said. “It’s a vague sort of thing, but some swimmers just have a natural feel to hold their lines in the water and have a sense of how the water moves around (them). It’s just something he’s naturally gifted at. When you see him in the water, you know he’s a competitive swimmer. It just shows.”
The Warriors’ standout senior sprint freestyler has qualified for the upcoming Class 3A state meet in the 50-yard freestyle and is on all three of the team’s relays that have achieved state times. He’s still in search of a qualifying time in the 100 freestyle.
Teplouhov, who also swims for the Everett-based Stingray club team, has spent a lot of time building a physique that helps him excel in the shorter races, where hundredths of a second mean so much against elite competition.
“He’s without a doubt one of the strongest guys in the weight room,” Welfringer said of Teplouhov, who is 6-foot and 180 pounds. “He’s well over his body weight on his bench (press) and that shows in the sprint events where his speed is a direct product of his strength and his ability to hold the line and feel the race.”
The Herald caught up with Teplouhov last week to talk about his avant-garde freestyle technique, state meet mishaps and competitive dance.
What do you think separates you from other swimmers in Wesco and makes you a tough person to beat, especially in the sprint freestyle races?
I have a different technique from other swimmers in sprint freestyle where I straighten my arms when they come out of the water and rotate my shoulders a little. It puts more pressure on my shoulders but it gives me a little bit of an advantage. My arms go deeper down in the water and I’m pulling the more dense, heavier water and getting more force out of it.
You’ve competed at the state meet twice in your career. What’s the atmosphere like? Can it be an intimidating environment if you haven’t been there before?
It is pretty different from a normal high school dual (meet) where you’re just hanging out with your teammates. Everyone takes it a lot more seriously and there’s a good amount of pressure. My first time at state, I was leading off our 200 free relay and when I got on the blocks, I just fell in. That was pretty funny. My coach always remembers that. It just relieved the tension. Since nobody else jumped in, I didn’t get disqualified.
Coach Welfringer told me you were a pretty raw competitive swimmer when you started in high school. What helped you improve?
I feel like it’s not that hard as long as you’re ready and you want to. I’ve been involved in many sports, so the competitive factor wasn’t overloading me. I do modern dancing and Latin ballroom dancing, and I’ve downhill skied and played soccer. I like the competitiveness, I just had to get on the level of all the faster people. It just involved training and working for it.
How’d you get into ballroom dancing?
When I was in middle school, at my modern dance studio, a couple of ballroom coaches started a class for kids my age when there weren’t modern dance lessons going on. I got a partner and started dancing. I stopped two or three years ago because swim was getting to be a lot, but last year one girl asked me to be her partner and I said, ‘OK.’ I did miss dancing. I find it fun and interesting.