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Raising his play to a higher elevation
Philistin keeps the noisy machine portion of the device next to a desk in his spartan room. Aside from a few pairs of shoes, there is little clutter in the single. With a twin-size bed, Philistin removed the bed frame and placed a mattress and memory foam on the floor with the plastic dome hanging over top.
It can be zipped up from the outside and the inside, and even Philistin admits he was slow to grow accustomed to the atypical setup.
“You’re sleeping with a bubble over you and it’s not the most assuring thing,” Philistin said. “It feels weird. At one point, I went up too fast. You think you’re good and you think ‘I want to get up to my peak level.’ You have to work your way up as the days go by.”
He issued a similar warning to preseason camp roommate Ben Pooler, who wanted to give it a try before Philistin said he could hyperventilate if he spent too much time inside without an adjustment period.
Philistin faces no such problems. A year after rolling up 124 tackles and finishing fourth in the ACC in that category, he feels even better during practice and games after sliding from middle to weakside linebacker.
“I’m breathing [hard], but my body’s not cramping,” Philistin said. “That’s the biggest thing you’ll notice. You just feel like you can do a lot more. It’s like being winded without pain. I’m still breathing out there, but it isn’t breathing where I won’t make a call because I’m tired or I start to cramp up and you see me bent over.”
Philistin believes he gets on-field results as a result of the machine, and there’s little question he fields plenty of questions from teammates.
On a recent Friday morning, Philistin welcomed a reporter and photographer into his room - much to the curiosity of fullback Haroon Brown, who was amused to find visitors there to inspect “the bubble bed.”
“Does it help you breathe?” a teammate asked Philistin from the hallway.
“It gives you more red blood cells,” Philistin replied.
Not everyone seems quite as interested. Philistin said defensive coordinator Chris Cosh ducked into the team dorm during camp and shot him an odd look before departing. In the weeks afterward, Philistin heard the occasional (and inaccurate) barb “to go hop in the hyperbaric chamber” when he fouls up in practice.
Nevertheless, Philistin is eager to educate anyone who asks about his training method.
“When people see it, they think I’m some kind of weirdo,” Philistin said. “I tell them what it does and they’re like ‘Hey, that’s cool.’ … When people come over, they think I’m crazy, like I’m camping or something. I try to let them know I’m not camping.”
The machine does lend itself to a few comedic moments. Linebacker Moise Fokou entered Philistin’s room one night during camp, only to find Philistin asleep. But he made too much noise and startled Philistin, who can’t clearly see out of the plastic bubble.
About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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