Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports

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Insights into Swimming Performance

Recently, Swimming Science Journal has been made available at no cost on the Internet click here for the website. For those Masters Athletes interested improving their swimming performance this should be a valuable new resource. The website includes abstracts of academic articles dealing with various aspects of swimming training, technique, and psychology. While some of the articles are quite technical, many of them will be of interest to all levels of competitors.

For example, an article titled "Land-Based Training of No Benefit to Mature Swimmers(*) maintains that weight training and resistance training are less useful to experienced swimmers, in terms of swimming performance, than swimming-specific training in the pool for the following reasons:
1."resistance activities do not mimic the movement path and action speed of swimming;
2. muscular actions in the exercises are in coordinated patterns that have no commonality with crawlstroke swimming; and
3. the distribution of forces in land-based training exercises may alter stroke mechanics."
As the authors point out "the principle of the specificity of training is particularly obvious in training because the stroking actions used are so unnatural.

One exception to this caution about land-based training may be swimmers who lack basic strength development - in other words, those who are too weak to focus on swimming technique. This exception is elaborated in another article titled "Masters Swimmers Might Do Some More Weight Work"(**). This article suggests that weight training may combat the natural decline in swimming speed that occurs with age. The article discusses the decline in swimming speed in various strokes. Not surprisingly, the stroke showing the greatest decline is the butterfly. I would add that for those engaged in multiple sports, land-based training may be essential in maintaining the general level of of fitness needed to cross-train effectively.

Another interesting feature of the website is a very detailed analysis of the strokes of many world-class swimmers, in a sections called "How Champions Do It." I recommend this website to those who seek more information on the fine art of swimming performance.

Swimming Science Journal
Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus
School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences
San Diego State University
San Diego, California 92182
Email: brushall@mail.sdsu.edu

(*) This article is by Tanaka, Costill, Thomas, Fink, and Widrick (1993) "Dry-Land Resistance Training for Competitive Swimming" Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 25, 952-959
(**) This article is by Hartley and Hartley (1986) "Age Differences and Changes in Sprint Swimming Performance of Masters Athletes" Experimental Aging Research, 12(2), 65-70


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