A $23,000 project funded by USA Swiming, through managing partner the American Swim Coaches’ Association (ASCA), has been completed and is undergoing peer review. The study was undertaken by the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University, led by Joel Stager.
A full version of the report was available on the ASCA website in May, but has since been removed. An email to USA Swimming about when the full report would be released was not immediately returned.
Internet caching technology, however, allows us to view the first page of the report, which summarizes its two conclusions.
One conclusion describes the challenge of reviewing studies involving the physical training of children. The report concludes that while there are frequent studies on exercise (because it’s easier to study), the long-term effects of training on children and adolescents are relatively more difficult to come by,
The second conclusion says that “the current training paradigms employed with children in the USA are, from the perspective of performance, in fact, seemingly successful.” The second conclusion refers to USA Swimming, the funders of the study, as “the premier swimming program in the world.”
News of this study was first reported by Concussion Inc, who obtained an email from ASCA director John Leonard.
While the first page of Stager’s report did not refer specifically to the Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT) that has been employed most famously, though not exclusively, by National Age Group Record-breaking phenom Michael Andrew, an email to several high profile people in swimming indicates that this training was the precise reason why Leonard asked for the study.
The first paragraph of Leonard’s email reads:
6 weeks ago, I explained to (Wielgus) that the USRPT nonsense had no coherent background in terms of training young athletes (as 98% of USA Swimming athlete members are…) but that it had a lot of appeal to young coaches (and athletes) who are not knowledgeable about the history of training in the world and were being hoodwinked into thinking this is something NEW and of course young coaches are easily seduced by anything they perceive as “new” and especially if it means less work and is touted as the reason for the success of the latest Phenom.
According to the letter by Leonard, the purpose of the study was not to investigate whether or not USRPT was successful, rather to review the literature (presumably including that drafted by the methods chief scientific promoter, Dr. Brent Rushall) and make a judgement on whether the science used in that research was sound or not.
Stager’s full conclusions will be clearer once the full report is released, but his summary conclusions did not appear prepared to make a strong judgement on any specific training style to its support or contrary.