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Data Source: Zamparo P, Bonifazi M (2013). Bioenergetics of cycling sports activities in water.

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

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Shawn Simonson Discusses Resistance Training for Incoming College Swimmers

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education,
credentials, experience, etc.).
My name is Shawn R. Simonson and I'm a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Health Fitness Specialist (HFS), and Ed.D. from the University of Northern Colorado. I started in Exercise Physiology as a middle school science teacher and coach. I have worked as a personal trainer, police fitness instructor, health educator, and owned my own gym. I have eleven years in academia teaching and conducting research. I am currently in my 8th year at Boise State University.

2. You recently published an article which surveyed college strength coaches. How many strength coaches were surveyed?
The survey was sent to 195 collegiate strength and conditioning coaches. The survey was completed by 57 (29%). This is a low rate of return, but is within reason for on-line surveys.

3. What did your study look at?
We asked strength and conditioning coaches to share with us their perception of the preparedness of incoming college freshmen athletes for the rigors of strength and conditioning in training for their respective sports. The survey was specifically designed to find areas in which pre-college programs could help athletes improve and asked open-ended questions that allowed coaches to respond with any information they felt appropriate. Coaches’ responses were grouped into themes.

4. What were the results of your study?
Incoming college freshmen athletes lack lower extremity strength, overall flexibility, and core strength, as well as proper Olympic lifting technique. Athletes also lack mental toughness (grit) to endure collegiate sport strength and conditioning. In addition knowledge of correct nutrition and recovery principles is limited. From the manuscript:

Table 2. Thematic Analysis Regarding Areas of Improvement(3)
Major Themes
%
Olympic Lifting Technique
36.8
Core/Lower Extremities Strength
33.3
Flexibility/Mobility
22.8
Mental Toughness
22.8
Knowledge of Exercise Technique/Recovery
22.8
Work Capacity
19.3
Minor Themes
Running/Jumping Form
5.3
Knowledge of Periodization
3.5

Note: 50th Percentile was 18.4%. Any theme greater than the 50th percentile was considered a major theme while any themes less than the 50th percentile was considered a minor theme.

5. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?
High school strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, and club sport coaches should consider obtaining certifications within the field of strength and conditioning (i.e., CSCS, USAW). These certification indicate that the coach is qualified to develop and implement safe sport training regimens that will take into account biological maturity, athlete experience, evidence-based program design, and appropriate progressions. Parents also need to become educated and understand the importance of hiring only suitably certified strength and conditioning professionals to train their children. Just because a potential strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer was a successful competitor sports does not indicate that they have the education and knowledge to design and properly progress a strength and conditioning program for high school athletes. Failure to employ certified individuals with the requisite knowledge not only puts athlete health at risk, but also creates a disadvantage when beginning collegiate sport training and competition.

Certified high school strength and conditioning coaches/trainers should 1) focus on teaching proper technique in the basic multi-joint movements and Olympic lifts. 2) Increase power via appropriate plyometric exercises and sprinting and agility form drills to improve movement economy. 3) Ensure a complete and proper mobility/flexibility component. 4) Include mental training to enhance mental toughness (grit), and 5) Educate athletes regarding evidence-based nutrition and recovery principles.
 
6. Did you ask the strength coaches specifically about sports they worked with or what which sports were the least prepared?
We did not.

7. Do you think it is appropriate for a swim coach to implement resistance training at their club for high school athletes or is a strength and conditioning specialist preferred?
Based on what we found in the survey, we encourage club and high school teams to hire Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists rather than implementing their own programs.

8. If a swim coach is leading their high school kids strength program, what education do you recommend they have for safety and preparing the athletes?
High school strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, and club sport coaches should obtain certifications within the field of strength and conditioning (i.e., CSCS, USAW). These certification indicate that the coach is qualified to develop and implement safe sport training regimens that will take into account biological maturity, athlete experience, evidence-based program design, and appropriate progressions.

9. What is the ideal athlete to coach ratio in the weight room?
“The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends staff-to-athlete ratios based on the age and experience of the athletes participating in the training program. For middle school strength and conditioning programs, a 1:10 staff-to-athlete ratio should not be exceeded. Secondary school strength and conditioning programs should not exceed a 1:15 staff-to-athlete ratio. Strength and conditioning programs for athletes older than the secondary level should not exceed a 1:20 staff-to athlete ratio. It is recommended that no facility exceed a staff-to-athlete ratio of greater than 1:50(1).” (2) page 84.

10. What are some things coaches can work on to have their swimmers ready for college strength training?
1) Focus on teaching proper technique in the basic multi-joint movements and Olympic lifts. While many swimmers do not think much about Olympic lifting, the clean and snatch are specific to getting off the starting block and wall quickly and with power. In addition, start with the basic movements before moving on to multi-planar movements and more advanced conditioning programs.
2) Increase power via appropriate plyometric exercises and sprinting form drills to improve movement economy. This is important for both sprinters and distance swimmers as it will help with coming off the block and wall as well as reduce fatigue and delay the loss of movement economy that accompanies fatigue. Proper mechanics and movement economy also reduce the potential for overuse injuries – the most common injuries in swimming.
3) Ensure a complete and proper mobility/flexibility component – especially in the hips and low back.
4) Include mental training to enhance mental toughness (grit). This will help athletes overcome adversity and better tolerate the grind of intense and/or long conditioning sessions.
5) Educate athletes regarding evidence-based nutrition and recovery principles. Do not pay attention to the fads and commercials. What does the science say?

11. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?
We are currently working on a follow-up assessment protocol for this recent study to measure the accuracy of the strength and conditioning coaches’ perceptions that will include sport-specific information. We hope to collect data from a wide variety of programs and sports.
We also continue to work on the use of Olympic weight training to improve sport performance.

References:
  1. Greenwood M and Greenwood L. Facility organization and risk management, in: Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. TR Baechle, RW Earle, eds. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008, pp 543-568.
  2. Simonson SR, Moffit JT, and Lawson J. What is the impact of NCAA policy 11.7.2.1.1 weight of strength coach (Football Bowl Subdivision) limits on strength and conditioning as a profession? Strengt Cond J 36: 82-87, 2014.
  3. Wade SM, Pope ZC, and Simonson SR. How prepared are college freshmen athletes for the rigors of college strength and conditioning? A survey of college strength and conditioning coaches. J Strength Cond Res 28: 2746-2753, 2014.
If you're looking for more information about dryland for swimmers, consider purchasing dryland for swimmers. Although this doesn't substitute a certification for strength and conditioning, it helps bridge the gap between swimming and weight training. 

Aldo Matos da Costa Discusses Development of Youth Swimmers

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education,
credentials, experience, etc.).

I did my undergraduate and master's degree in Physical Education and Sport at the University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro (Portugal). Later I obtained a doctoral degree in Sport Science at the University of Beira Interior (UBI, Portugal). I’ve started my career as a swimming instructor, coach and as a swimming technical director in a small local club. In 2008, I moved to UBI where I currently work as an Assistant Professor at the department of sports sciences and also as Vice President for Education and Quality Assurance at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (UBI). I’m also an effective researcher at the Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health and Human Development (CIDESD, Vila Real, Portugal), scientific advisor at the Portuguese Swimming Federation and board member of the Portuguese Swimming Coaches Association.

2. You have done research on the relative age effect and performance in swimmers, could you explain what this is?

Most competitive sports are organized into age categories. Thus, the participants are grouped by chronological age to ensure equitable competition. However, in the same grade grouping, differences of age among individuals still exist. Some individuals born late in the competitive year (third and fourth quarter) and some born early (first and second quarter). Such age differences among individuals in the same grade grouping are referred as relative age effect (RAE).

One would expect that individuals born in the early part of the cut-off date would be taller, stronger and better coordinated. All those are important attributes for success in various sports including swimming (e.g. power and body size). RAE may be even more pronounced when there is a positive variation in the skeletal age.

3. In the states, most youth swimmers are grouped by every two years (ie 13 - 14), how are youths grouped together in Portugal?

In Portugal, swimmers are divided into five age categories. Like in the US, age groups (cadet, infantile and juvenile) for both genders are also grouped by every two years, keeping girls one year ahead of boys in all age categories (table),


4. What did you study look at?

Our purpose was to identify the existence of RAE in swimming, considering all competitive age groups and both genders. Using the top 50 Portuguese performance times we were able to analyze the RAE on swimming performance for the main swimming competitive events. This allowed us to clearly identify which age category and competitive(s) event(s) seem to be most affected by the cut-off birth date. To our knowledge, this type of analysis was non-existent in the literature, particularly in swimming, making this research quite original.

5. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?

The existence of an inequitable distribution of birth dates by quarter in the top 50 ranking in nearly all age groups allowed us to assume that RAE can actually influence selection and probably the long term development of swimmers (although we have no data on sports dropout). Thus, selection procedures of swimmers (whether local or national level) should be more prospective and the way of grouping more equitable. The literature is scarce regarding the RAE on psychological parameters. However, a few studies are now showing some variation particularly on swimmers motivation. Thus, younger swimmers may require greater psychological and technical monitoring by coaches.

6. Why do you think there were more male swimmers born in the first two quarters of the year?

Younger and later matured promising swimmers are likely to be ignored by their lower competitiveness at a given time. So we were expecting to find an inequitable distribution of birth dates by quarter in the younger age groups but not among older swimmers. This seems to suggest the existence of a profound effect on the number of swimmers born later in the selection year that effectively reaches the elite.

8. You mention there being minimal relative age effect on swimming performance, is this different from other sports?

Other studies in different sporting disciplines are showing a clear physical advantage for athletes born in the first half of the year. Some recent studies are even showing differences in fundamental movement skills proficiency within children placed in age groups according to the school year (Birth et al., 2014). According to our results, RAE seems to influence swimming performance (except on front crawl swimming events), but particularly in the youngest swimmers of both genders. We probably didn’t find a greater REA on swimming performance in other age groups (and swimming events) because we have studied the best Portuguese swimmers (Top 50), whose overall performance is more homogeneous. In less competitive level swimmers, I believe we would find a much greater RAE on swimming performance.

9. Do you think there is a "best" way of grouping youth swimmers together?

I think the swimmers up to 13-14 years should be organized not by birth year but by birth semester.

10. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

In swimming I am currently working on three main themes: genetic polymorphism and sports performance (particularly in swimming); Aquatic environment factors that directly influence the organization of teaching and, therefore, determine their effectiveness (e.g. shallow water versus deep water teaching); the effect of aquatic experience in motor proficiency.

Cammile Adams Discusses Training and Biomechanics

1) Since your last interview you began training at SwimMac Carolina. What have biggest
transitions with your in-water training?

I'm actually still in school. Im in my last semester right now. So being back in Aggieland has been great! I really missed the girls team this summer so it’s been fun being back!

2) Currently, what are the biggest biomechanical aspects you're working on in your butterfly?

I’ve been working mainly on getting more out of my kicks and keeping that second kick in my stroke throughout the race. David had me doing some different things this summer and I’m still working on those things back here at school.

3) What specific training aspects are you working on for your 200 fly (improving take out
speed, finishing, etc.)?

I’m working on trying to get a little more front half speed. I’m usually really good back half so just trying to lay in on the line a little earlier has been my focus here lately.

4) Has your dryland training changed in the past few years, if so how?

It has quite a bit! Haven’t done a lot outside of the water besides dryland, cardio and weights. This summer I added in some yoga and pilates and really loved both of those. I felt like that really helped my body position in the water and I had a ton of fun doing it!

5) What about your meet preparation behind the block?

Meet preparation behind the blocks kind of changes depending on the meet. Some international meets you’re in the ready room for 20 or so minutes before you actually race. So then I try to just stay relaxed…I usually bring my music with me so that helps. I also like to stretch a bit before and just make sure I’m feeling loose. As far as right before the race starts…I usually splash some water in my face and just take in the atmosphere of the meet.

6) Last time you only took iron supplementation, has this changed at all?

Hasn’t changed at all.

7) What are your goals for 2015 and 2016?

My goals for 2015 and 2016…I’m really excited to have made the Worlds team! So that meet will be my main focus for the summer. Ill be going to SC words here pretty soon in late November so that will be a great time racing short course meters. As far as after that, I just want to continue training in order to put myself in a good place to medal in 2016.

Daniel Marinho Discusses Finger Position in Swimming

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

My name is Daniel Marinho, I was a swimmer and a coach for many years. I started my PhD in 2005 regarding the analysis of swimming propulsion using CFD methodology. Since then we have been able to participate in several research projects but also to work in straight cooperation with the swimmers, the clubs, namely with the Portuguese Swimming Federation.

At this moment I am working at University of Beira Interior and at CIDESD Research Center, in Portugal.

2. You recently co-authored a paper regarding finger position during swimming. Has there been much research on this subject?

In the past there has been a great interest under this field, namely with the studies carried-out by Schleihauf. However, recently there has been again an increase interest on the analysis of the best finger position, namely with the use of CFD.

3. What did your study look at?

We analyzed the effect of finger spreading and thumb abduction on the hydrodynamic force generated by the hand and forearm during swimming. We would like to understand what could be the best finger position to increase the propelling force.

4. Did your team consider any other methods for monitoring finger position?

At this moment we were very interested in using CFD to conduct this study, especially to improve our previous studies regarding this field, although we believe the combination of different methods and different studies could be the best solution to improve our knowledge under this field.

5. How did you ensure the swimmers had the same finger position throughout their trial?

It is the advantage of CFD analysis. As we are using computational simulations, one can add some input data into the system and to be sure that this input data will remain the same during the analysis. We used 3D models of the swimmers, obtained with a 3D scanner, so after that procedure one can manipulate and insert the desired data into the system and verify what is the result.

6. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?

I would state that finger and thumb positioning in swimming is determinant for the propulsive force produced during swimming; indeed, this force is dependent on the direction of the flow over the hand and forearm, which changes across the arm’s stroke. Therefore, coaches should be aware that the most appropriate technique must include changes in the relative positions of the fingers and thumbs during the underwater path.

However, when referring to finger spreading, it seems fingers should be grouped or even slightly separated to maximize lift and propulsive drag force production for most sweepback and attack angles.

7. Do you think ideal finger position varies on the swimming stroke?

Yes, we do. The geometry of the hand circumstantially used by a swimmer, especially the position of the thumb, appears to be dependent on and determined by the predominance of the lift and drag forces in each phase of the propulsive action, aiming to best orient the resultant force and thus the effective propulsive force. Thus, thumb abduction and adduction tend to favor propulsive drag or lift under different conditions. It is interesting to notice this situation in high-level swimmers, who changed the position of the fingers, especially the thumb, during the stroke cycle (for instance, Alexander Popov seemed a good example of that).

8. How do you recommend teaching finger position from age-group through Olympic level swimmers?

Coaches should be aware that the most appropriate technique must include changes in the relative positions of the fingers and thumbs during the underwater path and that attention should be paid to the training of swimmers’ specific sensitivity to the hydrodynamic effects of water flow over the propulsive segments.

In age-group swimmers it is very important to allow the swimmer to test different finger position,
different hand position, different “sculling” and propelling drills, to allow improve the “feel of the water”. We believe this is the most important part regarding this issue. Later on, they will be ready and prepared to change the finger position, to be aware of the importance of these small changes during the stroke cycle to improve swimming velocity.

9. Do you think finger position varies much during a stroke cycle or is it static?

Yes, as stated before, we do believe there are important variations during the stroke cycle, allowing the swimmer to improve the capability of producing propelling force, especially regarding to changes in thumb abduction/adduction.

10. Who is doing the most interesting research currently in your field? What are they doing?

There are a lot of good works in swimming research. Fortunately swimming community is very active, as noticed in the last Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming Conference (Canberra, April 2014). Each year one can observe different research groups with good ideas, using interesting methods to allow a better understanding of swimming performance, thus it is always very difficult to highlight someone or some research group because at this moment it can be appearing an interesting study on a specific field.

Nevertheless, if you allow me I would like to say that I am very proud to be part of the Portuguese Research Team Network who has been doing very interesting works on swimming research.

11. What makes your research different from others?

Basically, one can point out two main things: (i) the use of CFD with realistic models, and the use of different hand/forearm models, and (ii) combining different finger spreading and different thumb positions within the same CFD simulation, which was a step forward in the analysis of swimming propulsion.

12. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

A lot of people have been influencing my work, some of them were my teachers and some cooperated with me in different research projects. All of them played an important role on my education process and I have the pleasure to keep working with them in different projects.

I would refer by a chronological order professor João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Professor Ricardo Fernandes, from the Faculty of Sport in Oporto, who were very important during my undergraduate studies and the ones who integrated me in swimming research projects. Later on Professor António José Silva and Professor Abel Rouboa, from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro and CIDESD Research Centre, for allowing me to be part on the CFD project applied to swimming research and supervised my work during the PhD. I would also indicate my colleague at CIDESD Research Centre Professor Tiago Barbosa and my colleague at University of Beira Interior (where I am working nowadays) Professor Mário Marques for the sharing of new ideas regarding swimming research and training methods.

I can not forget my father (Fernando Marinho), a swimming coach and teacher, who helped me think out of the box regarding swimming training, and my swimming coach professor António Vasconcelos (Tonas) who were always up to date regarding swimming training methods and enjoyed to share his knowledge with the others.

13. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

We want to continue improving the use of CFD in swimming research, and this should be one of our main focuses in the following years with some PhD students working under this scope and with some projects shared with different Research Centers.


On the other hand, we are very interested in developing and testing new ideas regarding swimming training methods, especially related to strength training and the effects of the use of different warm up routines in swimming performance. We have at this moment at University of Beira Interior and at CIDESD some PhD and Master degree students working under these topics, so we believe in a new future we can present some interesting results.

Victor G. Sarramian Discuses Post-activation Potentiation for Swimmers

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education,
credentials, experience, etc.). (pictures)

I completed my Sport Science degree at University of Leon (Spain), followed by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Soon after finishing my studies I took a job as a swimming coach in a small team.

In 2005, I moved to London and started working as a PE teacher and swimming instructor. My increasing interest in endurance sports, led me to train a number of athletes in and out of the pool. I realized that I wanted to learn more, in which to improve their performance and my knowledge, a MSc in Strength & Conditioning seemed to be a perfect match for my degree in Sport Science. So that's exactly what I did, I attained my Msc and was delighted when my dissertation was awarded with a distinction and proposed for publication. It has been finally published in one of the most prestigious journals in the field of sports science. (http://goo.gl/CJvoxY)

I also gained sound knowledge on different subjects such as applied strength training, research methods, and corrective exercise...but mostly, I learned how important it was to manipulate every training variable with evidence-based facts.

Alongside my studies, I worked at Barnet Copthalls Swimming Club under the supervision, of one of the best coaches in England; I assisted the club with the strength & conditioning programmes. Working with Rhys Gromnley was an invaluable experience, he gave me the opportunity to get involved with the making of national champions. During my time in the squad, I learned that bridging the gap between sport science and day-to-day coaching is a key factor to enhance performance.

Currently, I deliver S&C sessions for endurance athletes with a strong scientific input. Personal training customers also benefit from my knowledge and experience.

2. You recently published an article on post-activation potential (PAP) and sprint swimming performance. First, what is PAP?

Postactivation Potentiation (PAP) is a relatively new phenomenon in sport and exercise science that provides coaches with a new tool to potentially impact sports and exercise performance. PAP can be defined as a condition whereby acute muscle force is increased due to a previous high resistance exercise.

Popular training methods implemented to seek an acute augmentation in maximal power output have been already benefiting from PAP by utilizing the method of complex training where by a heavy-load exercise is followed by a low-load high velocity or plyometric exercise e.g. barbell back squats followed by box jumps or bench press followed by bench throws.

The inclusion of a PAP protocol in the warm up has been object of study in a number of researches, having shown enhanced performance in a variety of sports such us rugby (Kilduff et al, 2007), weightlifting (Chiu et al, 2003), football (Mc Bride and Erickson, 2005) and track and field (Linder et al., 2010 ).

The underlying mechanisms behind PAP are not fully understood yet, but the phosphorylation of the regulatory light myosin chains and the increased recruitment of high threshold motor units have been proposed as the two most coherent underlying PAP mechanism theories .

3. Has there been previous research on PAP and swimmers? If so, what do we know?

There is paucity of published research on the effects of PAP in competitive swimmers. To the best of my knowledge, the first study to address this topic was conducted by Kilduff et al. (2011). The research reveals that sprint times over 15m were similar after PAP using 3RM backsquats or a traditional warm-up.

Recently, a group of Spanish researches from the University of Granada published a really interesting paper, they demonstrate that start performance can be enhanced after a warm up with two different PAP stimuli , 3x85% RM of the lunge exercise and 4x YOYO squat.

Basically, we know that start performance can be enhanced using a PAP protocol and, based on our study, we also know that PAP is as effective as a traditional warm -up in the water, with the potential to increase performance over 50m in some individuals.

4. There is a lot of research on PAP in other sports, how did you decide on the exercises, loads, and rest you picked for your study?

The most important factor when choosing the exercises was practicality, we wanted to propose exercises that could be done in a real situation. I cannot imagine any swimming coach taking a squat rack, barbells and plates to a swimming meeting in order to warm-up the sprinters.

The exercise for the lower body was chosen based on previous research that showed increased power output of the leg extensors after jumping into a box wearing a weighted vest . (Fig 1) The external load of the weighted vest worn to perform the test equalled 10% of their body weight. (Thompsen et al 2007 and Burkett et al 2005). Three squat jumps performed 4, 8 and 12 minutes after the PAP stimulus were performed in order to establish optimal rest periods for power output enhancement for the lower body. For example, if a swimmer achieved the highest jump 12 minutes after the weighted jump to the box , we obviously established 12 minutes as his optimal rest period for the lower body. Simple.

Fig 1

Choosing an exercise for the upper body was a bit more complex because all the previous PAP studies focused investigated pushing actions such as bench presses. We thought that a pull-up was a simple exercise that replicated to some extend the underwater pulling motion of front crawl. The 3RM was determined by adding the athlete's body weight to a vest's additional weight that was worn during the 3RM PU test.

The swimmers completed a medicine-ball-throw test in order to determine optimal time to upper body muscle enhancement following the loaded pull-ups. (Fig 2)

Fig 2

5. What your study specifically looked at?

The primary aim was to compare the effectiveness of the PAP protocols with a traditional warm-up in the water. Secondly, the research examined the effect of the loaded pull-up and the weighted jump to a box as conditioning activities to produce potentiation on sprint swimming.

6. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?

There are several implications:

(1) Postactivation potentiation has the potential to be a useful tool for coaches to warm-up swimmers participating in sprinting events, especially when space and time limitations can impede performance of a warm-up in the water.

(2) It is imperative to identify the conditioning activities and following rest intervals that trigger potentiation in each swimmer. The combined protocol showed to be a valuable method to boost performance to some extent in some individuals.

In my opinion, knowing how to interpret the data is key to understand the outcome of a research. Most data is published as average and standard deviation and we look for statistically significant differences, but in the pool we work with individuals. If you look at the data from a pure statistical point of view, you might think 'ok, the results of the PAP protocols are not so impressive', but some swimmers achieved reasonably good improvements that could mean a lot in a championship. Those performances will not be reflected in the results section of a paper because a few remarkable individual performances using PAP may be diluted in the overall results or hindered by those swimmers who performed poorly under a PAP protocol. Knowing that some swimmers may respond positively to PAP, makes it worth trying.

Another promising fact about this study is that 12 out of the 18 swimmers performed better following one of the three PAP protocols.

For that reason, the coaches should be encouraged to experiment with different exercises to determine what works best for each swimmer. I know this is hard work but in elite swimming, very small improvement in times are crucial amongst competitors in sprint events.

(3) Conditioning activities such as the weighted jump to the box described in the present study represent an effective and simple method to warm-up the lower body, the vest's load can be easily adjusted to meet individual needs and can be taken into any swimming pool, as opposed to more voluminous and heavier weight-lifting material.

7. Why do you think PAP for the upper body impaired performance?

When swimming, the hands do not apply force against a solid base of support and follow curvilinear patterns of movement under the water. Consequently, the kinematic characteristics of the freestyle stroke are extremely hard to replicate out of the water, which may impede the transfer into performance enhancement. The PU, regardless of its pulling nature may differ extensively from the actual motion of the arms under the water. Furthermore, Figueiredo et al. (2013) revealed high activation of the triceps brachii muscle during the upsweep phase of the freestyle stroke. The upsweep is the most propulsive sweep in freestyle swimming and the PU may not be an appropriate exercise to produce high activation of the triceps brachii.

8. Did any of the swimmers have greater performance in the upper body PAP condition?

Only one out of 18 swimmers, what makes me think that there is a lot of room for improvement for the combined PAP protocol. Imagine for a moment, that the combined PAP protocol was composed by an improved upper body exercise and the 4 x YoYo Squat for the lower body, which has already shown positive outcomes to enhance performance of the lower body (Cuenca- Fernandez et al, 2014). Maybe we could have a superb protocol that is exceptionally valuable for some sprinters.

9. Since the regular swimming warm-up and combined warm-up had similar results, how can coaches decide who to prescribed the combined protocol?

Trial and error, I am afraid. As I mentioned before, it is the coach's task to experiment and get to know his/her swimmers' responses to different stimuli.

10. Do you think PAP is something that can be done before major meets or just high-intensity practices?

I would experiment with different PAP protocols in practices and low key events. If it works under those circumstances, I think there is no excuse for not trying.

Additionally, it can be performed when space and time limitations can impede the performance of a warm-up in the water. It is not unusual to hold a swimming event in facilities without a warm up pool and some swimmers may compete long after they warm-up in the water.

11. What makes your research different from others?

(1) Despite the significance of upper body pulling performance on a variety of sports (e.g., swimming, judo), no studies have investigated the outcome of specific conditioning activities to trigger PAP for pulling motions. I believe we have been the first researchers investigating PAP for pulling motions.

(2) This is also the first study investigating the effects of a combined PAP protocol to enhance upper and lower body performance simultaneously. Previously, all PAP studies focused on upper or lower body separately.

(3) Finally, we look at performance on a swimming event, the 50m freestyle. Former research studied performance only on swim starts.

12. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

The research was my dissertation project for a MSc in Strength and Conditioning (Middlesex University, London) and I was most influenced by the whole environment during the course. From the very beginning I understood that all the knowledge that I was acquiring was based on the latest research, so I knew that I had to back up all my ideas with science and reflect that in my research project. When I presented my first literature review for this project, my tutor (Anthony Turner) suggested that I needed to improve and elaborate my ideas quite a lot. That moment was a real eye-opener, now I look back in time and realize that my original ideas, such us combining an upper and lower body PAP protocol were very innovative but at the same time I realized that I needed to raise the bar to write a decent paper. To be honest, I thought I wasn't going to pass the course and I got a bit obsessed with this research. Probably that obsession helped me to work extremely hard to produce a reasonably good research (at least for a student). I encourage every MSc student to publish their research project if they believe their work is good enough. They may contribute somehow to the development of sport science. Despite being a difficult and time-consuming task, preparing and submitting a research can be emotionally satisfying, and give a student a great sense of accomplishment and a confidence boost.

13. What are some unanswered questions regarding PAP and swimming performance?

We still need much more research on the topic. We need to test different PAP stimuli, try protocols over different distances, test PAP stimuli that are specific to different strokes or simply play around with the sets and repetitions of the exercises. A recent meta-analysis on PAP studies showed that performance enhancement was greater following multiple sets of a PAP stimuli than a single set.
In my opinion we know very little, we only know that PAP has a great potential to became a good tool for coaches to enhance performance.

14. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

At the moment I am 100% focused on running my company, I deliver S&C programmes for endurance athletes and personal training. I am not involved in any research but in the future I would love to keep working with endurance athletes. There are some topics I am very interested in, such as gluteus maximus strengthening in endurance runners, not only to prevent injury but to increase performance.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss about my study and do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, research proposals or comments.

Victor G Sarramian
+44 (0) 7809719251
victor@victoriaparkfitness.com
http://victorsrunningblog.com/
http://victoriaparkfitness.com/

Interview: Roland Schoeman Discusses Swimming Biomechanics and Training

1) When did you begin swimming and get involved in the sport?

I only started swimming after I had turned 14 (I knew how to swim, because of some lessons when I was a kid), my entire life however had been spent playing a wide variety of other sports, Soccer, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, track and field, Field hockey and even Karate. I was my happiest in a sporting arena.

2) As a "late starter", what do you think about kids specializing in sports (particularly swimming) at such a young age?

Personally I don’t see the need in specializing at a young age, kids need to be kids, I believe they need to build their athleticism and concept of self by participating in individual sports as well as team sports. There is definitely a need for variety as it allows the kids to see exactly where they will succeed. I believe allowing kids to specialize later in life will allow for increased longevity.

3) In the past year, have you tried any new things in your swimming training? 

I’ve never been afraid of experimenting and trying something new. After the hype surrounding USRPT I decided that I would give it a try. While the science behind it may be sound and while there may have been success for some swimmers with this modality I found it impossible to buy into. It is my experience that most coaches succesfully incorporate elements of USRPT into their “well balanced” programs. Ultimately I have a problem with anyone functioning in absolutes. In everything in life, as in swimming there is a need for balance. Since Commonwealth games I have switched back to a more balanced swimming program and I couldn’t be happier.

4) What items are you currently working on with your freestyle technique

We made some changes before Barcelona in 2013 and while there were some benefits I believe I lost the “connection” especially as I started fatiguing. Lately we’ve been focusing on trying to be a bit flatter in the water and trying to avoid too much shoulder rotation

5) What do you do for dryland training

I’ve been working with Nick Folker and Train FASST for quite some time now. Nick and I go back to 1999 and he’s one of the best in the business. He tailor makes our workouts based on our specific needs and weaknesses. I have also been working with two Ki-Hara practitioners here in Phoenix. I love the difference the Ki-Hara resistance stretching has helped me with recovery and injury prevention

6) How about nutrition, do you follow any program for food and supplements? 

I’ve gone back and forth with various diets. PH Balanced diet, High Fat Low Carb, Blood type diet etc. I’ve found that at this point in time as long as I am eating healthy, avoiding excess sugar that I will recover properly and feel great on a day to day basis. I believe I had a tendency to over think my dietary requirements but now I just trust my body and intuition about what I need and how much of it I need.

7) As a veteran swimmer, what things do you wish you knew 10 years ago?

I wish I’d had a chance to help the overall development of South African swimming from a far earlier stage, after 2004 we had a huge platform to improve the professionalism and marketability of swimming. We unfortunately didn’t capitalize on that. Secondly I wish I’d done better to market myself and my successes. Unfortunately at this point in time with 2016 Olympics less than 2 years away I do not have a single sponsor.

8) Do you perform any particular injury prevention or recovery techniques? 

I have spent quite a bit of time talking to Kelly Starrett and have been following his principles for mobility. He’s an unbelievable guy with a wealth of knowledge, I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to tap into that.

9) What are some of the most important things you've implemented into your training? 

I think one of the most underrated things in terms of training is recovery. I have tried to ensure that I get as much sleep as possible at night. I have a device called an Earthpulse, it is an electromagnetic sleep device that helps improve sleep and overall performance.

10) What are you goals for 2015 and 2016?

Between now and 2016 I’d like to find several sponsors who will be willing to walk on this Olympic journey with me. If I attend the Olympics in Rio I will be the first South African to ever attend 5 Olympic games. It is an honor that I would like to achieve more than anything else. When it comes to the Rio games, I would like to represent South Africa in the 50 freestyle and I would like to be a part of the 4x100 free and 4x100 medley relays.

11) Why do you think there is resistance in adding 50 meter stroke events during international competition? 

Ultimately I can only speculate as to the real rational behind not including the 50m of strokes. In all honesty it makes no sense, if you want the crowd involved you have to cater to them. Modern sport is about the excitement, creating characters, setting events apart. As far as I am concerned there is a need for the 50’s of stroke and a 4x50 medley relay. I think we should question the current event order and scheduling. The World Championship schedule works fairly flawlessly and caters to the 50’s. At the end of the day it would be foolish not to include 50’s of stroke. Smaller nations who may not have top 100m swimmers all of a sudden also have the opportunity to compete for medals.

12) What are you working biomechanically for your butterfly?

For butterfly I am trying to improve my thoracic mobility as well as improve my shoulder flexibility. I need to improve my initial catch on the water so everything we are doing is geared towards that right now.

Follow @rolandschoeman and Instagram is Roland-Schoeman

Friday Interview: Shinichiro Moriyama, PhD, Discusses Intra-Abdominal Pressure

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education,
credentials, experience, etc.).
My name is Shinichiro Moriyama. I am an associate professor and competitive swimming coach at Japan Women’s College of Physical Education in Japan. I was awarded my PhD from National Institute of Fitness and Sports in 2014. My mentors are Department director of Sports Science Yuichi Hirano at Japan Institute of Sports Sciences and Professor Futoshi Ogita at National Institute of Fitness and Sports. Professor Hirano granted the advice about the importance of trunk training in human performance, and Professor Ogita guided me in the swimming science. It was the splendid experience for me to have studied under them.

I started coaching of the swimming club from 2002 at Japan Women’s College of Physical Education. I want to take a role to relate competition swimming to science.

2. You recently published an article on intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and swimming. What is IAP and how is it tested?
IAP changes as a result of synchronous contraction of the abdominal muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles and, through synergistic action with muscle activity of the trunk, contributes to lumbar spine stability.

We measured intra-rectal pressure as IAP using 1.6-mm-diameter catheter-type pressure transducer. Intra-rectal pressure that is more than 10cm from anus gives almost the same value as IAP measured using a laparoscope.

3. What did your study look at?
We hypothesized that IAP during front crawl swimming is affected by stroke rate, one of the factors affecting swimming velocity, and increases with swimming velocity.

We investigated to ascertain IAP during front crawl swimming at different velocities in competitive swimmers using swimming flume and to clarify the relationships between stroke indices and changes in IAP.

4. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?
It is difficult to suggest the practical implications from our study. Because it was no relationships between IAP and stroke indices. Additionally IAP during swimming was less than 15% of maximum voluntary IAP.

On the other hand, within-subject, IAP tends to increase with increased swimming velocity. Therefore the training to increase IAP during swimming may be effective means to swim faster.

5. Do you think the results would be different if you had older, elite or untrained swimmers?
We compared IAP of elite swimmers with untrained swimmers. As results, under their maximal efforts, we could not see significant difference between elite and untrained.

From this result, significant difference may not be accepted between the elite swimmer with older swimmer.

6. What if you had the swimmers perform around 2.0 m/s?
I instruct the swimmer who advanced to the A finals by the 50m free-style at Japan championship. Her IAP is not remarkably different from other swimmers.

7. Would other strokes change the results?
We are very interested in about IAP during other strokes. We are making an experiment plan now. Crawl stroke and back stroke have rolling motion, and butterfly stroke and breast stroke have up-down motion. Therefore we expect that the former’s (crawl stroke and back stroke) IAP waveforms are remarkably different from the latter’s (butterfly stroke and breast stroke). Additionally IAP development during butterfly strokes that are the highest load to trunk are highest in all strokes.

8. How should the results of your study be used for dryland and core training?
This question is very difficult for us. Recently, including me, many coaches and swimmers work on core training. We wanted to solve the meaning of core training by measuring IAP during swimming. But as results, IAP during swimming was much lower than we expected. Therefore, at least, our findings do not appear to support the effectiveness of core training performed by competitive swimmers aimed at increasing maximal IAP.

9. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?
Even now, we are continuing experiment of IAP during swimming. We want to solve the meaning of core training and roles of trunk during swimming someday.

Friday Interview: Dr Chris Mills and Dr. Mitch Lomax Discusses Breast Influence on Biomechanics



1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education,
credentials, experience, etc.).
Dr Chris Mills
I completed my PhD in 2005 at Loughborough University in the UK, where I was funded by British Gymnastics to investigate force dissipation characteristics of landing mats and gymnasts with the aim of reducing injury. I continued to focus my research on lower and upper body soft tissue motion and for the past 6 years have worked closely with the research group in breast health at the University of Portsmouth. As a part of this group we work closely with garment manufactures to improve their design, as well as conducting fundamental scientific research studies. Most of the research within breast biomechanics to date has been land based however recently a swimwear manufacturer approached our group with an interesting project. We combined our experience of breast biomechanics, swimming mechanics and physiology (via Dr Mitch Lomax, who has contributed to your website in the past) to investigate the effect of breast support on trunk motion during swimming.
I’m a Sport and Exercise Scientist and a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology at the University of Portsmouth, UK. I gained both my PhD (2007) and MSc (with distinction, 2001) from Brunel University, UK, and my BSc (Hon) from Luton University (1998). I’m an accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), Chartered Scientist (Science Council). I have been an advisor to the Amateur Swimming Association of England and was involved in the preparations of the English Pistol Shooting squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. My main sporting research interest is in swimming and predominantly breathing limitations.

2. You recently published an article on breast displacement in freestyle and breaststroke. Is there any other research on this area in swimming?
At present there is very limited research on breast mechanics, let alone the movement behavior of the breasts in water and the impact breast support has on swimming technique. Clearly more research is needed in this area to ascertain whether swimming costume design modifications could benefit performance.

3. What did your study look at?
We were interested in investigating whether varying levels of breast support influence swimming technique. On land, a lack of sufficient breast support has been shown to decrease performance and increase pain, however we did not know if the same was true in water. We were also particularly interested to understanding whether regular swimsuits afforded any support to the breast during swimming.

4. What were the results of your study?
Key findings suggested that although trunk motion was not altered with varying levels of breast support, a swimsuit was no more effective at reducing the movement of the breasts than not wearing one at all! Despite trunk motion not being effected by breast support conditions, ongoing research hopes to determine whether other aspects of swim stroke mechanics (such as hand path etc.), that may influence swim performance, are effected by the amount of breast support.

5. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?
Female swimmers with larger breasts may wish to consider wearing an additional sports bra under their swimsuit to reduce breast motion and compress the breasts against the chest wall (decreasing the trunk moment of inertia and the possibility of the breasts obstructing the desired hand path during swimming). Our findings revealed that a sports bra (traditionally used for landing based activities) was more effective as reducing breast motion than a swimsuit.

6. Do you think the same results would have occurred with faster women? Hi-tech suits? Women of smaller breast size?
This is difficult to answer however if the women swim faster the drag created would also increase. If the breasts are not ‘restrained’ sufficiently this may increase the ‘bagging’ effect (from our paper) and increase form drag and hence decrease performance. Hi Tech suits usually have a higher level of compression (similar to compression garments on land), however we have not tested this. Unpublished research from the group has found that upper body compression garments do reduce breast motion during land based running. It may be possible that a similar increase in compression may also reduce breast motion (similar to that of the sports bra in this study). Women with smaller breasts do not experience the same magnitudes of breast motion (on land) therefore in the water they are also likely to experience reduced magnitudes of breast motion when compared to women with larger breasts. The ‘bagging’ effect and potential increases in form drag may not be as great for women with smaller breasts.

7. Does male pec size influence swimming? Could this be one reason why "bulkier" male swimmers anecdotally did better with the full body suits?
This is a difficult one to comment on and really outside our area of expertise. The only aspect to consider is that men pecs are mainly muscle and hence are used to generate joint motion; however the female breast does not contain any muscle (just mainly fat and glandular tissue), hence minimizing their form drag may be beneficial to swimming performance.

8. What can swim suit manufactures do to improve swim suits for women?
I would recommend an increase the amount of compression afforded around the breasts to move their center of mass closer to the trunk and help to streamline their shape to decrease form drag. A higher neckline may also help to decrease the ‘bagging’ effect described in our paper. Possibly some structured support, similar to an encapsulation bra. Finally, appropriate sizing, that can cater more for trunk circumference and breast sizes variations, within a, for example, UK size 12 swimsuit.

9. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?
We currently have two more papers under review associated with breast motion during water based activities. We are also seeking collaborative links with garment manufacturers interested in developing this area of research.