Olympic champ and former world record-holding sprinter Tom Jager made an appearance on a Swedish podcast this week, complete with an interesting take on the current struggles of the American men in the sprint freestyle races.
Jager talks to Ola Strömberg of the podcast “Snabbanan – Simma Fortare,” which roughly translates to “Swim Faster” – you can find the full-length podcast on iTunes by following this link. The podcast page is in Strömberg’s native Swedish, but the interview with Jager is done all in English.
The 20-minute interview touches on a number of notable topics, including Jager’s swimming background as a distance-swimmer-turned-sprinter, his coaching philosophy in his current position at Washington State University and his thoughts on parent-coach relationships.
Maybe most notable, though, are Jager’s comments on two hot-button subjects: Ultra-Short Race Pace Training (USRPT) and the current state of American men’s sprinting.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Jager’s interview:
“My whole career, I’ve always kind of been away from the trends. I’ve been swimming since the ’70s, obviously, so I’ve seen so many trends and so many things that are changing the world of swimming, and ‘this is gonna change everything’ and then five years later we’re onto something new.
“I guess I don’t use the acronym, but we do a lot of race-pace. But not in the same fashion that I think a lot of people do, a lot of the 25s and a lot of the 50s, just repeatedly. I guess that could be good, we just don’t do that much of it that way.”
When asked whom Strömberg should interview for a future podcast:
“From my era… there’s a reason that U.S. sprinting is not so great right now, and it’s because they didn’t listen to what Matt Biondi and myself were doing. They had no concern for it. I think if you want to get to the core of finding out about great sprinting and what happened, I think a great interview would be with Matt Biondi.”
When asked for more detail on modern American sprinting:
“I think the biggest difference is that the athletes and coaches from other countries actually watched what Matt and I were doing, and they looked at the stroke and they looked at the kick… the legs became much more of an emphasis. And while the legs were becoming more of an emphasis across the world, we [US Swimming] were not. We were still in stroke drills and we were in this time in America the late-80s and early-90s where we were kind of ‘anti-yardage’ and we were trying to find our strokes.
It’s really a combination. You’ve got to have great stroke technique, which Matt Biondi showed us… but you also have to have a great endurance base, and that endurance base starts with your legs.”