Tom Jager Weighs In On US Sprinting Woes, Matt Biondi, USRPT

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.”


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5 years ago

“Tom Jaeger is great.”
– Tom Jaeger

read up g
Reply to  Rich
5 years ago

Not sure what article you were reading my good sir, but nevertheless, ‘Prince Jaeger, The Boy’ just gaves you some learning to do, and yous better listen!

read up g
Reply to  read up g
5 years ago

We’s bouts ta change the world of swimming for all… and for all a nice bronze. It’s that olympic chlorine scented christmas spirit, I guess.

Reply to  Rich
5 years ago

He could still take you in a 50 free.

Steve-O Nolan
Reply to  Rich
5 years ago

Exactly what I thought, too. “Do stuff like me, and we’ll be good!”

It’s not that American sprinting is that horrible or anything. It’s not that it’s great, but let’s see how this summer goes.

Reply to  Rich
5 years ago

except it’s Tom Jager….

5 years ago

Wowwww , thats interesting . Maybe Us Swimming will take some notes … in the near future . Those 2 know very well what they are talking about . They made me love swimming in 1988 .

5 years ago

Jager is correct. The legs are critical. The legend!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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