$23,000 USAS Funded Review of Literature on USRPT, Other Training Methods, Completed

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.

Read that email and report here.

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.

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5 years ago

I have a feeling that sometime in the not too distant future John Leonard’s quoted email is going to make him look very silly indeed.

Reply to  Sprintdude9000
5 years ago

I thought we passed that point a long time ago.

Tact Vs. Fact
Reply to  Sprintdude9000
5 years ago

The sentiments of Leonard’s email may or may not be ultimately borne out, but John Leonard has already proven himself incapable of any sort of tact, both in this matter, and in others.

How he ever compiled enough political clout to become president of ASCA, I’ll never know. What’s the term limit?? When can we get this joker out??

Reply to  Tact Vs. Fact
5 years ago

Very disappointed with John Leonard’s comments. Married to an MD exercise physiologist, he often talks about quality vs junk training. USRPT is intriguing with its emphasis on sprint work. Not saying that the mid to distance group shouldn’t do yardage. Let’s see what happens as these different training techniques progress. Certainly decreasing long practices will allow these swimmers get more sleep, not a bad thing. Also supported by science.

Steve-O Nolan
Reply to  Sprintdude9000
5 years ago

But he sounds so open minded! Really swell fellow.

5 years ago

He also said in that email referring to USRPT

“When in fact of course it is a failed methodology that was widely used in the 50’s, resurrected for about 2-3 years in 1970 with the famous Fox and Matthews book, etc. In each case, the valid principle of “specificity” (used by every coach who knows anything since the 1910’s) was being “abused” and presented as something it is not….but in the absence of contrary real science as evidence, young coaches were being led astray by the hundreds…….”

If it is “in fact” a failed methodology from the 50’s, can someone explain to me why they needed to spend $23000 of USA swimming’s money to research it? I’m still confused… Read more »

5 years ago

If this is truly peer reviewed, unless there’s a ridiculous mountain of evidence (and even then, this would still be in question), this study will be tossed strictly for the “…seemingly successful” line in the conclusion.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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