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The results at world championship the American sprint events was abysmal at best. Here are a few examples, look for yourself:
Men’s 50m Breaststroke
50m Brasse Hommes
1 4 SILVA Felipe BRA 0.65 25.95 CR
2 5 VAN DER BURGH Cameron RSA 0.61 26.03 0.08
3 8 HETLAND Aleksander NOR 0.64 26.29 0.34
4 1 SCHOEMAN Roland Mark RSA 0.64 26.41 0.46
5 2 ALEXANDROV Mihail USA 0.68 26.44 0.49
6 3 VAN AGGELE Robin NED 0.68 26.50 0.55
7 7 TRIZNOV Aleksandr RUS 0.68 26.71 0.76
Women’s 50m Freestyle
50m Nage Libre Femmes
1 4 KROMOWIDJOJO Ranomi NED 0.72 23.37
2 6 SCHREUDER Hinkelien NED 0.71 23.81 0.44
3 5 VANDERPOOL­WALLACE Arianna BAH 0.57 24.04 0.67
4 2 HARDY Jessica USA 0.70 24.09 0.72
5 1 ALJAND Triin EST 0.67 24.16 0.79
6 3 LI Zhesi CHN 0.72 24.18 0.81
7 8 POON Victoria CAN 0.75 24.19 0.82
8 7 BRANDT Dorothea GER 0.68 24.21 0.8
I mean, this is embarrassing. The USA won one event (women’s 50 breast) by a swimmer I wouldn’t qualify as a sprinter! Americans currently have 1 LCM world records (women’s 50 breast).
This is going to address overtraining in swimming and if you don’t believe most programs overtrain spriners, skip this article.
How someone can train 5000 yards a day for a 50 yard race blows my mind. Oftentimes 5000 is a minimum volume for sprinters. Seriously, look at college swimming the most valuable swimmers are sprinters, why not cater towards these events? American sprint freestyles are acceptable, but Americans prevent many athletes from reaching their true sprint potential (especially in strokes) by scaring away kids with great anaerobic potential secondary to high yardage or one dimensional training philosophies. It is embarrassing! Why would any sport push away some of the most explosive, athletic athletes because they have difficulties swimming practices which the main set contains distances 8x their best race? Imagine if Usain Bolt only did mile repeat training throughout his career. Do you think he would hold the current WRs? I feel he would be in Jamaica trying to find 3 buddies for a bobsled team, or he would be relaxing instead of wasting his fast twitch muscles running endurance races!
Overall I feel youth training can scare true sprinters away from the sport. This is embarrassing and sad, as some of the top athletes are discouraged to continue the sport because they are told they are weak or don’t have proper mental toughness for swimming. This needs to stop and practices need to cater towards the athletes’ strengths. If you have a powerful swimmer, who dies long and hard with repeat 500s, CHANGE THEIR TRAINING PROGRAM!
Dr. John Mullen, DPT, CSCS world-renowned physical therapist and strength coach.
  1. January 13, 2011

    Do the best sprinters in the US actually do such type of training outside of base training? Even the ones foccusing on 50 freestyle? That’s surprising.

    As for being a sprinter of another stroke other than freestyle, we have to face that you won’t go anywhere if you turn into a huge sprinter for 50 breast/back/fly as those are not Olympic events. Even them having been included into the Worlds programs they don’t get as many importance as the Olympic events. We have many cases in Brazil where the swimmer is a worldwide force in one of those events but as a result loses the chance to be an Olympic swimmer or to be at the top positions.

    But then again I agree we shouldn’t discourage athletes to continue the sport by doing high yardage at early ages and/or when it’s not the athletes’ characteristic to take part in longer events. It’s just that for a very-high level I have my serious doubts about foccusing on such events.

  2. January 13, 2011

    I wrote on this topic yesterday. I think you are right to relate the distance swum during practice to the distance swum in a race. If that thought is carried through to its logical conclusion, it applies to every race and every swimmer. As in strength training, doing 100 repeats instead of 5 is not always (even rarely) better.

  3. January 14, 2011

    I completely agree with you.

    However, do you have proof that a majority of training programs outside the U.S. train this way?

  4. January 14, 2011

    @ Anthony B I don’t have proof other than interviews by Bousquet where he describes his training program.

    @Evan good comments, where is your webiste?

    @Caio, do you think these events will become Olympic events in the future?

  5. January 14, 2011

    Well some people have been asking for them to become Olympic for a while and the answers have been negative. In a near future I don’t think it will happen, but as it would mean more medals to be given and bigger chances for different countries to achieve success, the IOC will probably end up adding those events to the program I guess.

  6. January 15, 2011

    @ Caio, are you suggesting an American bias and unwillingness to change…hi-tech suits…

  7. January 15, 2011

    Maybe I expressed myself badly, when I say bigger chances for different countries I meant that when 18 new medals are given, you certainly create more opportunities to other countries. American swimming does have great sprint talent of course and would be one of the forces to take those medals. On the other hand I actually think it would take some time for these events to be as prestigious as the other ones in American swimming, if you take a look at past long course World championships USA swimming isn’t a force like in the other events, they didn’t even medal in Rome. Other countries have already been foccusing in some of those events for some time which is questionable as they don’t give you Olympic projection.

  8. January 16, 2011

    Some coaches think that kids have a window between the ages of 11-14 to establish an aerobic base. They think that if there is not enough aerobic volume during this time, that the swimmers’ future success will be comprimised. I have not found anything in literature to support this; have you?

  9. January 16, 2011

    @ swim nerd, I’ve heard this before, but have not seen any research to back it up. In my opinion it sounds like an old wive’s tale

  10. April 22, 2012

    First off, nobody does high yardage anymore. You may think people do but they do not. Compare swimming results this way: Take the Olympic winning times from either 1936 or 1948 and compare to 1976..then take the times from 1976 Olympics and compare to 2008. Anyone remotely involved in swimming in 1976 would have predicted much faster times in every event 32 years later.

    Are the swimmers faster today than in 1976? Yes..but then again cars are faster today than in 1906? The same goes for track events. You paint the current sprint group as really fast. Check out 1968 Mexico Olympics and those male track sprinters. 100m-400m… Those are probably some of the greatest names in the history of the sport. Track has not progressed that much either in many events. Most swimmers 8-14 years old are in training groups that provide an all round approach to the sport of swimming. Why have kids only specialize in certain distance event or sprint events when they are 10-12 years old? When one is 17+ years old they can worry about focusing in on the 50 free, 50 breast or 1500 free..So many kids have no ideas how to swim a race other than what they think they are good in at that moment.

    I’ll leave you with this:

    In media newspapers are viewed as sprinters..If you advertise in newspapers with a sale you will get pretty good short run results.. Newspapers are like sprinters… However, radio advertising builds the product over a longer time. The newspaper sale runs out after a few months.. The radio builds loyalty, consistency..In teh long run if you have a mixed program you will be served better in all ways…

  11. April 23, 2012

    Mixed programs are the safe bet, but individualization needs can occur before many programs think to enhance the sport.

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