By Darnay Tripp
Prime Hall is using lessons learned through the challenges he’s faced to help some big names reach their potential.
This is not your ordinary day at the pool.
Every week a group of athletes shows up to the deep end of a public pool in San Diego. There they are reminded of their limitations, and with some help emerge having a clearer picture of their full potential.
“A challenge is nothing more than an opportunity or a bridge to unlock performance,” trainer Prime Hall said.
Hall learned that lesson as a teenager. Lacking stability at home following his parents divorce, his grandparents sent him to the Marine Military Academy in Hall’s home state of Texas
Three years after graduating he joined the Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, where he became a water survivor instructor.
“We call it drown proofing,” Hall said. “You do a lot of pool time in that with rescues and long conditioning swims and all this other stuff to where you break through whatever it is you have in the water.”
It’s a barrier not everyone can overcome. He learned that while leading special operations training for the Marine Raiders.
“I got a lot of feedback that the pool was the hardest part and that’s where most people failed and they quit.”
Helping others overcome their fears was the focus of his time in the Marines, a chapter that ended in 2017.
Prime was caught in an insider attack in Afghanistan. He suffered blast injuries, and was medically separated from the Marines. The structure he’d relied on since high school was suddenly gone.
“A lot of your identity goes into your job in the military,” Hall said. “So you think to yourself how am I gonna survive outside of this?”
He and fellow former Marine Raider Don Tran created Deep End Fitness, an underwater training program that helps athletes build mental resilience and provides techniques to excel within stressful situations.
“When you go under water and you have that panic feeling and you focus beyond that to perform,” Hall explained. “Doing that translates to different things in their sport too.”
Word spread about their work after they ran an offseason program for NFL players in 2018. They’ve since become a resource for Olympians, and mixed martial artists.
The believers now include one of the city’s most popular athletes. This offseason Joe Musgrove and fellow Padres like Mike Clevinger have added it to their routine.
“Mentally it’s one of the toughest things that I do,” Musgrove said. “I guess that’s the whole idea to make yourself comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”
That’s a trait Musgrove displayed on his way to an iconic performance for his hometown team. The Padres starter said he didn’t feel 100 percent on April 9, but stayed zeroed in for 27 outs, throwing the first no-hitter in club history.
Now his mental game is getting even sharper, which has led to new personal feats – like three minutes and 31 seconds spent face down without air.
“You know holding my breath for three and a half minutes isn’t gonna help me get outs, but it helps everything leading up to the preparation,” Musgrove added. “The ability to focus on the task at hand and not overwhelm yourself with what could happen.”
Prime Hall has demonstrated that ability in his own life. He didn’t allow fear or uncertainty to take him under. He’s risen to success on the other side of difficult circumstances.
“Things sometimes happen for a reason so I’m grateful for the way things have played out.”