When Tom Lechtenberg joined The University of Texas Permian Basin in 2018 as Head Athletic Trainer, UTPB was in the process of building a new athletic facility that would give student-athletes a new space to train and coaches a place to recruit.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Tom about UTPB’s new state-of-the-art athletic training room that opened in the D. Kirk Edwards Family Human Performance Center.
“I consider myself a bit of a facilities nerd,” says Tom. “Throughout the years, I’ve had many opportunities to visit other facilities, and they all have different strengths,” notes Tom.
A new training facility for UTPB was already in the works when Tom started in June of 2018, and the blueprints for the new hydrotherapy room were ready. “The blueprints had different pools, and I asked if I could just see what’s out there,” says Tom. And the UTPB team was open to exploring their options.
After spending some time together at the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) conference, Tom and the SwimEx team worked on specific measurements and schematics. Tom was familiar with SwimEx throughout the years, even as a young athletic trainer early in his career. “I always knew SwimEx as a quality brand, and I appreciated their professionalism throughout the years,” says Tom. “They treat people nice and are very welcoming to athletic training students and those just starting in their careers.”
Ultimately, Tom chose the SwimEx 1500 T as UTPB’s main therapy pool because of its versatility. He liked the design, the exclusive paddlewheel current, and the zero-entry lift. “The paddlewheel gives a nice consistent flow of water, which makes a difference. And the 99 speeds help us gauge an athlete’s progress. For example, if I’m working on balance with an athlete, I can see how they do with the current at 35 versus at 45,” says Tom. “There are no dead spots in the current, which is great,” Tom adds.
In addition to the 1500 T, the new hydrotherapy room includes both hot and cold plunge pools. All pools include custom tile work and UTPB brand colors and logos.
“We are definitely finding that with the hydrotherapy pools, we can get athletes back on the field sooner,” notes Tom. For many athletes, they are doing exercises they wouldn’t be able to do on dry land. All of the athletes like getting in the pool and mixing things up a bit. “Getting these athletes in the pool a few times a week does wonders for them, it keeps them focused,” says Tom.
Rehab routines in the pool include step-ups, landing drills, range of motion work, gait training, push-ups, and more. Athletes with back issues love that the flow of water helps to decompress the spine. “We’re always thinking outside the box to see how we can use the pool,” says Tom. To educate the athletic training staff on all of the features of their new pool, members of the SwimEx team recently visited the facility to help with training.
Not only do the UTPB student-athletes have a new state-of-the-art facility to support recovery as well as injury healing and prevention, but the student athletic trainers have a great teaching facility. Students at UTPB can earn a Bachelors in Athletic Training, and UTPB has plans to add a Masters Degree program next summer.
“I like to tell people, if you aren’t trying to be a frontrunner, you’re never going to grow,” notes Tom. He’s happy there is a growth mindset at UTPB, and he will continue to focus on making the Permian Basin a destination for top-notch athletics.
“We’re starting to see some of the dividends,” says Tom. “We had a 5-0 record for our Spring football team, and are continuing to build upon that success.”
If you need help planning your ideal hydrotherapy room, download our free guide that includes tools and tips to help you get started.