Hazing In Sport – A Briefing

Hazing in sport has been an ongoing issue, from the youth to elite levels, for many years. As Dr. John Heil says, “any and all athletes are vulnerable to hazing” (Heil, 2016), and it can be a traumatizing experience for those involved. Many athletes refer to hazing as “team-building” and “tradition”, while studies have shown that hazing can decrease team cohesion rather than improve it (Van Raalte et al., 2007). Professionals, parents, coaches, and athletes all should be informed about how to recognize and prevent hazing, and how to reduce hazing in sport.

According to Waldron (n.d.), hazing can diminish an athlete’s confidence by promoting self-doubt, depression, low self-esteem, and in the worst-case scenario, suicidal thoughts.

Some athletes think that hazing creates a group identity.

Fact: Research shows that group identity is established when the athlete joins the team (Van Raalte et al., 2007). Hazing does not build attraction to the group.

Some athletes claim that hazing is a tradition that builds character (Smith & Stellino, 2007).

Fact: New players may feel pressured into hazing if they want to be accepted by the older players on the team. This may be driven by a “sport think” phenomenon cultivated by veteran players, producing fear and persuasion. Once the new players become veterans, they often maintain the perspective of valuing hazing and create the cycle of hazing.

Why Does Hazing Happen?

When new athletes are introduced to a team, promoting a positive and constructive environment is key to a fluid transition. When this outcome is not achieved, harsh exclusion and hazing may take place. Given the inherent need for belonging and acceptance by the “in-group,” athletes may be vulnerable to hazing (Maslow, 1971). Many may succumb to the hazing ‘sport think” phenomenon and overlook potential consequences and risks. To justify these hazing behaviors to themselves, individuals frame them in a positive way through displaced responsibility, attribution of blame, and diffusion of responsibility (Heil, 2016).

What You Can Do: Strategies to Reduce Hazing in Sport

(This briefing was originally published under the American Psychological Association Division 47 on the Virginia Commonwealth Games Sport Hazing Awareness Site.  For full literature, please visit their website.  Reprinted with permission.)


  • Hamilton, R., Scott, D., LaChapelle, D., & O’Sullivan L. (2016). Applying social cognitive theory to predict hazing perpetration in university athletics. Journal of Sport Behavior, 39(3), 255-277.
  • Heil, J. (2016). Sport advocacy; Challenge, controversy, ethics and action. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5(4), 281-295.
  • Kirby, S. L., & Wintrup, G. (2002). Running the gauntlet: An examination of initiation/hazing and sexual abuse in sport, Journal of Sexual Aggression, 8(2), 29-68.
  • Maslow, A. M. (1971). The Farther reaches of human nature. New York: Viking Press.
  • Smith, H., & Stellino, M.B. (2007). Cognitive dissonance in athletic hazing: The roles of commitment and athletic identity. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 29, 169-170.
  • Van Raalte, J.L. Cornelius, A.E., Linder, D.E., & Brewer. B.W. (2007). The relationship between hazing and team cohesion. Journal of Sport Behavior, 30(4), 491-507.
  • Waldron, J. Reducing hazing in sport teams, http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/resources/resources-for-coaches/reducing-hazing-in-sport-teams/.

ISCA Coach Education Program

We are thrilled that after about a year of production and development, the ISCA Education Program has officially launched!

The program is available online internationally and features evidence-based curriculum developed by sport scientists specifically for swim coaches. Our modern education portal is easy to navigate and secure, with transcript tracking and interactive course content.

ISCA Certification is available for coaches that are ISCA members and also complete the six core science-based courses (Biomechanics 101 & 102, Physiology 101 & 102, and Sport Psychology 101 & 102). The science behind swimming is something that all coaches need to understand to be effective and successful–and we look forward to providing this crucial piece of education to coaches around the world.

Get started today on the ISCA Education Portal: https://isca.courselaunch.com/

Learn more about ISCA Education: https://swimisca.org/education/

Get the details on ISCA Certification: https://swimisca.org/education/certification/

Demo an ISCA course: https://swimisca.org/courses/demo18/content/

Coach Dave Ling: The Art of Making Mistakes


 I was asked to contribute a notion of coaching wisdom to this blog, my first thought was to laugh because the one thing those who know me will say is that I’m never at a loss for things to say.  The catch 22 of the situation is that I hardly consider myself the smartest guy in the room but how I deal with that situation is likely a key starting point for introductory article. 

 I have been coaching for 9 years, this is my first season as a Head Coach, running a 200+ swimmer club in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.  In a city with a prominent fishing industry, when it comes to this town I’m a fish out of water.  I’m coming off a successful 8 year run with the Toronto Swim Club where I moved my way up the coaching ladder to earn the opportunity to come Head Coach.  The road to working my way up to earning the right to take on a Head Coaching opportunity would probably be best represented by the following diagram…

  dave ling

 I was asked the question by my friend, the SwimNerd himself, Nate Tschohl… so what do you do best?

 Me… “Admit mistakes”

 Through the self-scout evaluation process, I find that attention to errors and being good at admitting when I have made a mistake (or multiple mistakes), when something is not working despite any and all supporting “evidence” that would lead me to believe it “should work” is critical to implementing impactful change.   I do not double-down because something has worked previously.  I keep a log of mistakes I have made and I look at it (and add to it) frequently and use that log to help myself evolve as a coach.

 A few years ago I had the opportunity to work under a head coach whose accomplishments could fill out a pretty resume.  I was fired up when he came to the club, I thought I could observe, contribute, and learn to be a better coach.  Sadly, the coach was a bust, a few years and out… but I did learn a lot because the root of his failures was in his unwillingness to evolve.  He had his ways and they worked (big time) in one specific situation, at one point in time, in one of conditions producing a number of Canadian National team members… but his process was not repeatable and his style did not evolve and it did not work in a new place.  It was during those years that I started keeping a log of coaching mistakes and it was at that point that I thought my coaching really started to improve and with it the results of my swimmers.

 I find that by being quick to admit mistakes, I don’t rely on the S.O.S.  (same old… you get it).  If something is not working, I love the process of brainstorming and finding a new way.  Scouring my network of coaches and former swimmers.  Looking at other coaches in the club, seeing what they are doing, looking for ways to scale and implement with my own swimmers.  Hitting the Interwebs, blogs, YouTube, whatever dark corner might have a kernel of knowledge that can be adapted to fit my program.

 The desired result is clear, when swimmers experience their inevitable plateaus, I want to lead a team that is driven to solve situation.  Be creative, look at both the basics and the specifics, the individual and the team, and if the current way is not working then evolve quickly, move on, try something different, and be fearless in the process.  The result, when swimmers come out of their plateaus as a result of teamwork and creativity, trust is built, respect is earned, and next-level excellence is ready to occur.  This to me is the art of coaching driven from the art of admitting mistakes.

 So where does this all lead?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Most of you smart enough to read this are clearly already reaching out, scouring for information, coaching in the year 2017.  You already know the coaches around you still coaching like yesterday was 2008, 2001, 1995, 1984 or worse.  You are the kinds of coaches I want to network with, evolve alongside, and help lead this sport into an exciting era of our sport.  With the retirement of Michael Phelps we enter an era of second-wave professional swimmers that will lead the improvement of understanding of swimming that when evaluated properly can improve our sport from the top of the mountain all the way down through the grassroots.

Dave Ling
Head Coach, St. John’s Legends
Twitter & Instagram @coachdling
Editor’s Note: Coach Dave Ling does an incredible job with his white board. He posts a picture of every swim practice’s white board on Twitter. Every day he makes writing practice a beautiful piece of art.


Coach Mike Lewellyn on Breath Holding & Shallow Water Blackout

Today’s blog on breath holding comes from the Swim Coaches Idea Exchange Group
on Facebook via Coach Mike Lewellyn of the Boise Y Swim Team.
Thank you Coach for sharing.


My coaching friends. On the subject of breath holding and shallow water black out. In 1968 Coach Dr James Counsilman wrote a book called “The Science of Swimming”. It became the bible for swim coaches. Very few books since then have been as educational or essential to those who are going to coach swimmers.

In 1977 Dr Councilman wrote the next level book, “The Competitive Swimmers Manual” it was to be the cutting edge of swimming knowledge. I was at the ASCA Convention in 1977 when the book was introduced and Doc spoke on the merits of Hypoxic Training. The talk was in a small room and only a very few coaches were present. Not many had quite gotten into the idea of swimming science yet.

When Doc was done with his presentation he asked for questions and a man behind me spoke up and said that he thought Doc theory on hypoxic training was wrong. Doc figured that if a swimmer worked hard and forced themselves to not breathe that the human body would become more efficient using the available oxygen in the blood.

The man behind me was Dr Dave Costill, head of the Human Performance Lab at Ball State University. The two giants debated the data and how it was read and interpreted. After about 20 minutes of vigorous debate, Doc agreed that something in the data was wrong. The next morning he asked the book sellers at the convention to stop selling the book and to give refunds to anyone who asked for one. he also stood up before all the members at the convention and recanted the hypoxic training aspect of his book.

For some reason coaches went home and began to do hypoxic training. Many began doing repeat 50’s with zero breaths. Some went as far as to do 100’s. In the next few years I began to see stories of competitive swimmers dying in practices. More and more over the years have drowned.

To all of the coaches here in this forum, please stop doing this practice. With the advent of the 15 meter rule there is no reason for any swimmer at any age to hold their breath for more that 5-6 seconds EVER! I train my age groupers from 8 & Unders up to hold their breath for 5 seconds. When parents tell me that their children should try to go 15 meters in practice I politely tell them to shut up and tell them how dangerous it is.

A young child might take 20 seconds to travel 15 meters underwater, before they come up dead last. The fastest underwater swimmers in the world are under for 5-6 seconds. So I have my kids go for 5-6 seconds and then I work on increasing the distance over the years.

There is never a reason for kids to hold their breath in training. In a race it is a different matter. In the 50 free if a swimmer is at or under 20 seconds a no breather is possible and does no harm. But in practice it is dangerous and doing so could be called negligent. Protect yourself, protect your swimmers.

Coach Mike Lewellyn
Head Age Group Coach
Boise Y Swim Team

SSP 022: Coaching Olympians, College Swimming, and Transitioning Elite High School Swimmers into College Programs with Greg Meehan

This episode of the Swimming Science Podcast features Greg Meehan.Greg Meehan

Greg Meehan was named head women’s swimming coach at Stanford in August of 2012, and the 2014-15 campaign will mark his third on The Farm.

Meehan progressed the Cardinal from an eighth-place showing at the NCAA meet during his first season to a second-place effort in 2014. Last season, Stanford won four of five relays, Maya DiRado swept the IM races and Felicia Lee won the 100 fly, as the Cardinal outpaced all expectations on its way to its best NCAA showing since 2010. For his efforts, Meehan was named the CSCAA Swimming Coach of the Year.

DiRado, who was the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year, and Lee led Stanford to an undefeated dual meet season in 2013-14, including an upset of then-No. 1 California in front of a near-capacity crowd at Avery Aquatic Center. Lee, one of the most versatile swimmers in the country, earned two Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month awards, before taking home the prestigous Honda Award for swimming.

Meehan wasted no time making his mark on the Cardinal program in his first season. He groomed nine student-athletes to 30 All-America honors during an eighth-place showing at the NCAA Championships, including NCAA 400 IM runner-up Maya DiRado.

Stanford set four school records and three Avery Aquatic Center records to help highlight the 2012-13 season. The Cardinal won the Pac-12 Conference Championships for the third time in four seasons, holding off second-place USC by 21 points. Meehan also steered Stanford to a dual meet win over No. 1 USC.

Regarded as one of the top assistants in the country during his tenure at Cal, Meehan took over the Cardinal program after leading the Golden Bear men’s swimming and diving program to back-to-back national titles. Meehan, who spent five seasons with the Golden Bears, was promoted to associate head men’s swimming and diving coach in 2011. In Meehan’s five seasons with Cal, the program produced a pair of NCAA championships (2011, 2012) and a runner-up finish in 2010.

Prior to joining Cal’s staff in 2008, Meehan was the head coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at the University of the Pacific. Meehan coached at Pacific from 2005-08, leading his women’s team to a second-place finish at the Big West Conference Championships in 2006-07 and two fourth-place finishes.

On the men’s side, Meehan led the Tigers to three fourth-place conference finishes. Krzysztof Zoldak earned Big West Swimmer of the Year in 2005, while Ja-Neil Bragg advanced to the NCAA Championships in each of Meehan’s three seasons. Bragg also competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Zoldak and Wojciech Bettej both advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2006-07. In all, Meehan’s Pacific teams broke 13 school records and three conference records, and seven of his student-athletes qualified for the NCAAs.

Prior to coaching at Pacific, Meehan was the assistant women’s coach under Cyndi Gallagher at UCLA from 2001-05, helping the Bruins to a 2003 Pac-10 title and seventh-place NCAA finish in 2004. Thirty-three All-Americans were produced and 32 school records broken during his time with the Bruins, where he specialized in working with the distance and individual medley corps in addition to recruiting duties.

Meehan also was assistant women’s coach at Princeton from 1999-2001, helping the Tigers to a 17-0 dual meet record and the 2000 and 2001 Ivy League titles. Meehan was the first assistant and later interim head coach at William & Mary in 1998-99.

In the summer of 2003, Meehan served as assistant coach for the USA Swimming National Distance Camp at the USOC Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., mentoring the top young male and female distance swimmers from around the country.

At the international level, Meehan was as a manager for the United States team that competed in the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand.

A graduate of Rider, Meehan earned a degree in mathematics and secondary education. While at Rider, he competed in the 200 backstroke and was a member of several Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion relays. Meehan also was a four-time All-Academic Award recipient.

Meehan and his wife, Tess, reside in Moraga, Calif., with their two sons, Salvatore and James.


  • College swimming
  • Simone Manuel
  • Lia Neal
  • Club and college coach interaction

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.



Thanks for joining me for this episode. I know the conversation broke up a few times and I apologize, I’m still very new with this! If you have any tips, suggestions, or comments about this episode, please be sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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The post SSP 022: Coaching Olympians, College Swimming, and Transitioning Elite High School Swimmers into College Programs with Greg Meehan appeared first on Swimming Science.

4 Strategies for the Prevention of Swimming Overtraining

I struggle to fall asleep, my muscles feel heavy and my heart rate is through the roof. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me; training is my life but, right now, I don’t even feel like going to the pool. I have no motivation to push myself and I just feel like crying, staying in bed and not leaving the house. I’m exhausted, I feel overwhelmed and the championship is right around the corner – I’m going to make a fool of myself. I have no energy, I’ve lost five kilos and I just can’t find the necessary motivation to concentrate. If that weren’t enough, my parents tell me I’m unbearable, that I’m impossible to talk to, that I answer back and always in a bad mood.

But what do they want? They completely ignore me… they should try and put themselves in my shoes.

This is swimming overtraining – a kind of prolonged and chronic fatigue that attacks you like a virus and leaves you weak and defenseless [read our previous posts on the subject: Overtraining in Elite SwimmersSprint OvertrainingOvertraining Inhibits Muscle Growth]. Your energy evaporates, as if by magic. You feel exhausted and anything you do, no matter how simple, becomes impossible. Your performance is seriously affected and you feel like you’ll never be who you used to be again. Various factors influence the appearance of these feelings.

Here are some of them:

  • A disproportionate increase in training volume and intensity, inadequate planning of training loads between work outs, over a long period of time.

  • Insufficient recovery that is partly or entirely disproportionate to the effort made.

  • Personal problems or concern over academic results. Anxiety or other circumstances that cause mental or physical stress in the swimmer.

  • Unreal goals that are impossible to achieve and lead to desperation, unease and tremendous sadness.

  • A program that is poorly suited to the athlete and their objectives.

  • Environmental and family pressure that causes insecurity and instability, preventing the achievement of objectives by the swimmer and destroying self-esteem and confidence.

  • Early return to training after a long disease or injury without fully recovering, which can lead to the re-emergence of the problem if not properly treated.

  • Insufficient food and drink, which prevents proper recovery.

  • Heat, humidity and training at altitude.

Having the ability to recognize and find formulas that enable us to act properly when the early symptoms appear, take swift and effective action, prevent their appearance and avoid their effects should take preference in any sports program worth its salt. None of the following suggestions are anything new but they should not be forgotten nonetheless. They are effective and can help us achieve our goals.

4 Strategies to Prevent Swimming Overtraining

  1. Personalized work outs

    Be careful not to be too demanding in terms of distances or repetition intensity. Remember that not all swimmers are the same. Each one has a different exertion threshold, respond differently to the same warm-up session and need not necessarily reach optimum performance levels at the same time. Some are capable of swimming long distances seemingly without effort while others are more suited to sprints or less intense activity. Distinguishing the needs of each one will be your main priority.

  2. Listen to your body and rest appropriatelyPhelps stretching and preventing swimming overtraining

    If we stopped a second to think carefully and analyse the daily demands placed on swimmers, we would quickly realise the incredible pressure they suffer every day and the physical and psychological pressures they are subjected to. Training and studying occupy the majority of their daily lives. They sometimes lack the time needed to rest and have to rush lunch in order to get to the pool on time, without letting their digestive system work properly. On other occasions, they finish their day really late at night and hardly have enough time to sleep. They often receive no help in this regard and their only compensation is that of overcoming personal goals. In most cases, they do not receive the recognition they deserve. Pay attention to your body. It demands that you listen. It needs to recover and that you pay maximum attention. It needs you to realise that indiscriminate exertion without the necessary rest will not only harm your performance but also your health.

  3. Recover or break down

    The heading might be a little over-exaggerated but it represents the reality. When you feel that your body is not working normally and is giving you the warning signs – stress, fainting, excessive fatigue – stop immediately and decide what is best with your coach. Perhaps you need only reduce the load or rest a day or two. Sometimes, such a break can be the best possible decision. Pay attention to how you feel. Make sure not to confuse logical tiredness from exertion with an overload beyond what your body can stand.

    After a long disease or injury, returning to normal should always be a slow, gradual and steady process, avoiding major, long-lasting and intense repetitive exertion. Difficulty should be increased carefully and gradually, following the logical principles stemming from common sense.

    Be careful with infections because they can often become one of your worst enemies.

  4. Take care with and watch what you eat

    A correct diet helps provide our body with the substances it needs for a healthy life. Only with proper nutrition and optimum training will a swimmer achieve the best results. Long and intense work outs empty muscle cell glycogen reserves and the best way to return these levels to normal is with a correct diet, especially carbohydrates as the main source of energy when training.

    Drinking enough water during the work out will also help us maintain proper hydration levels and provide our body with the mineral salts it needs and guarantee good performance.

Summary of Swimming Overtraining

These suggestions, effective heart rate control during exercise and rest, appropriate monitoring by the swimmer and coach of physical health, rest times, the number of times the swimmer eats and the use of resources that facilitate faster recovery – massages, sauna, contrast bathing – can be useful in helping to prevent the appearance of these problems.

If, in spite of all our attempts, we are unable to progress towards our objective, the best solution is to provide the athlete with a few weeks of complete rest and ask for the appropriate professional help.

Written by Agustín Artiles (“Champi”). Agustín has more than 35 years of experience as the Head Coach of some of the most important Spanish swimming teams He has been the Coach of the Spanish Swimming Team from 2008 to 2012, and has trained the 50 breastroke Spanish national recordman, Hector Monteagudo Espinosa, from 2002 to 2013 Agustín has also trained several international swimmers from the Spanish National Team and from the european and world top ten, as well as paraolimpics athletes with medals and world records in all the different categories. He has also been accomplished with the award as the Best competition swimming coach in Spain 2006, as several recognition for professional merits.

The post 4 Strategies for the Prevention of Swimming Overtraining appeared first on Swimming Science.

High Intensity Swimming, More Positive Research, Have you Tried it Yet?

This is an interview with Dr. Anne-Marie Elbe and Dr. Nikolai Nordsborg who recently published the following article: High intensity swimming and reduced volume training attenuates stress and recoverylevels in elite swimmers. This study used the same data set as the study by Dr. Nordborg: Effects of 12 weeks high-intensity & reduced-volume training in elite athletes. Dr. Nordsborg was interviewed on this study, see More Information on High Intensity Swimming Training. Another interview we did on this topic was with Dr. Zinner here: High Intensity Training for Swimmers

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

My name is Anne-Marie Elbe. I am an associate professor of sport and exercise psychology at the University of Copenhagen. Besides doing research on psychological aspects of elite sports I worked as an applied sport psychologist for many years. I am Vice President of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) and section editor for the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Nikolai Nordsborg: I used to swim from age-group to junior level. I later obtained a one year competitive swim-coach education followed by five years at university studying exercise & sports science. During this period I also coached age-group and junior swimmers and was affiliated with the national Danish swimming federation. In my professional career I obtained my phd related to muscle fatigue in 2005 and now hold a position as associate professor in exercise and sport science. One branch of my research activities is related to swimming.

2. You recently published an article on high intensity swimming compared to traditional training regarding stress. Why did you decide to Thiago Pereira underwatermonitor stress and recovery?

When looking at the effects of new training methods it is important to not only focus on the effects it has on athletes’ performance, but also on how it affects their well-being. Some athletes do not pay enough attention to their recovery and a stress-recovery imbalance that lasts over a longer period of time can lead to overtraining.

 3. What did your study look at?

We looked at two different types of swimming training and compared the psychological stress and recovery levels the elite swimmers experienced during these two training methods. One group of swimmers participated in high volume training, whereas the second group of swimmers participated in a reduced volume but high intensity training (HIT) over a period of 12 weeks. Stress and recovery was measured with the Recovery Stress Questionnaire for Athletes.

4. What do we know about stress, recovery, and performance?

Training stress is necessary in order to improve one’s performance. However, after training, sufficient recovery is necessary in order to be in an optimal state for the next training session or a competition. In addition, to the training load, athletes can experience a number of additional stressors outside of sports e.g. school pressure or relationship problems that can impact athletes’ overall stress level. Recovery can occur on different levels e.g. mentally, physically and socially. Only those athletes who are sufficiently recovered can show peak performance.

5. What were the results of your study?

Our study showed that a 12 week intervention of lowering the volume and increasing the intensity of the swimming training sessions had a positive impact on the athletes’ levels of general stress and general recovery. The swimmers that swam less distance, but at a higher intensity experienced significantly lower stress and higher recovery levels over the 12 weeks.  A previously published study with this sample of swimmers could show that there were no performance differences between the two groups of swimmers.

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

It is of practical importance to note that the distance reduction of 50% and a more than doubled amount of high intensity swimming training for 12 weeks did neither improve nor compromise performance or physiological capacity in the group of elite swimmers as reported elsewhere (Kilen et al., 2014). Together with the current findings, this suggests that a period of high intensity training for up to 12 weeks can be used to reduce athletes’ psychological stress levels and might have a preventative function with regard to overtraining.

7. Do you think the results would be different if you had older, younger, or less trained swimmers?breaking-the-surface

We can only speculate about this since we did not conduct the intervention on other groups of athletes. The assumption, however, would be that the results from this study can be transferred to other swimmers as well.

8. What do you think of other methods of monitoring stress, like HRV?

AM: I am not an expert on HRV but I know assessing HRV is a lot more complex than using a questionnaire. Questionnaires have shown to be very easy to administer and evaluate and are very reliable measures to assess stress and recovery. In comparison to HRV, the questionnaire used in our study can assess stress multi-dimensionally. This means stress is assessed from a physical, mental and social perspective. Furthermore, the questionnaire differentiates between general stress and sport-specific stress. This kind of information can not be retrieved by using HRV.

Nikolai: There are to date no convincing studies that demonstrate HRV measurements as a tool to predict training effects and performance changes.

9. What do you think is the ideal training strategy for minimizing stress and maximizing performance?

Not sure I can answer this one because it also asks about maximizing performance.

10. Should swimmers alter their swimming training during emotionally stress life events (like school exams)?

This depends on the individual swimmer and one can not give a general reply to this question. However, I would suggest to very carefully monitor stress and recovery states during stressful life events to ensure that the athletes are receiving sufficient recovery.

11. What makes your research different from others?

It is a study with a fairly large number of elite athletes that changed their training for a substantial amount of time. I think this is what makes this study quite unique.

12. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

The colleague that influenced me most in relation to this study was Michael Kellmann. When we worked together at the University of Potsdam, Germany he introduced me to the Recovery Stress Questionnaire for athletes, which he developed together with Wolfgang Kallus and taught me a lot about the importance of sufficient recovery for elite performance.

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

I am working on a number of different projects related to the health promoting aspects of team sports. Currently, I do not have any ongoing projects about swimming but a lot of studies on the health effects of football, for example.

The post High Intensity Swimming, More Positive Research, Have you Tried it Yet? appeared first on Swimming Science.

Swimming Hopes Dashed

I can’t get away from it; the same story over and over again, and it bothers me no end.

A young swimmer has managed to achieve “success” in the form of medals, won all the competitions he has entered and even qualified for the National Championships in his category for the first time.

You cannot ask for more as a coach; your predictions have come true and you feel on top of the world. His family, teammates… everyone – without exception – lavish praise on you and foresee great success at the event.

You feel supremely confident and are not shy in making your predictions known. Through results, you have demonstrated your quality as a professional, your enormous power of persuasion, your powers of foresight and the superb level of your training programme – planned to the very last detail with precision and wisdom.

You are a coaching genius!

But what am I saying?!

You are the GREATEST COACH OF ALL TIME and – as if that wasn’t good enough – the swimmer under your wing is the latest big thing in the water. You are a perfect team, nobody can beat you, you’ll bring home a bunch of medals from the Nationals and you aren’t about to miss the opportunity to let everyone know!

You are in no doubt, you will be the shining stars of your dreams.

The day arrives, you enter the pool and the scene overwhelms you. Over one thousand swimmers fill the aquatic centre and share a similar goal; to demonstrate their worth and achieve victory on the biggest stage there is. The incentive could not be stronger; you will be competing against the best, you will face the toughest rivals and, what’s more, your families will bear witness to your triumphs.

Could you be any more fortunate?

The competition is over and the results pale in comparison to your initial expectations. 84th out of 90 in the best race, one false start and – to top it all off – an enormous tantrum make up the final results.

Suddenly and as if by magic, all hopes evaporate; the future Olympic champion is no more, he failed to do a single thing right and is no longer any good at swimming. His trainer turns his back on him and his parents decide that swimming is boring and too demanding, that there is no future in the sport and that it certainly won’t pay the bills. The best options for him are to either give it up, find a coach that can do a better job or just enjoy a different sport that doesn’t take up so much time and fully focus on academic study.

Does this situation ring any bells?

How many similar cases have you seen?

How many excellent swimmers on the verge of becoming champions had to quit swimming for a similar reason?

When will we learn – once and for all – to build up to the moment, to see our young rising stars for what they are: children, young people in training and athletes?

The saddest thing of all is that this situation arises all too often and, although usually characteristic of those few coaches anxious to achieve rapid success early on in their careers or inexpert parents who, through a lack of knowledge or mere aspiration, place their hopes in the quality and talent of their children, these are not the only people guilty of such action. At some time or another and without realising our mistake, the majority of us have acted in this way and suffered the negative consequences first-hand in the end.

I believe, and tell me if I’m wrong, that a much better way is to respect the proper stages of training and development. Let’s purge our vocabulary of those false hopes that are impossible to fulfil and that cause so much harm to the future endeavours of our young swimmers. Let’s stop the big talk, the inappropriate and unnecessary flattery, and focus on those things that truly matter to the swimmer, those issues of genuine interest.playa

Teaching the correct techniques in the four competition styles, turns and starts, setting reasonable and realistic targets, educating in commitment and values, encouraging a passion for the sport, working correctly for the long term without rushing and with the necessary calm and patience to achieve optimum performance in adulthood.


Written by Agustín Artiles (“Champi”). Agustín has more than 35 years of experience as the Head Coach of some of the most important Spanish swimming teams He has been the Coach of the Spanish Swimming Team from 2008 to 2012, and has trained the 50 breastroke Spanish national recordman, Hector Monteagudo Espinosa, from 2002 to 2013 Agustín has also trained several international swimmers from the Spanish National Team and from the european and world top ten, as well as paraolimpics athletes with medals and world records in all the different categories. He has also been accomplished with the award as the Best competition swimming coach in Spain 2006, as several recognition for professional merits.

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Motor Learning the Dolphin Kick

Dolphin kick consists of a complex set of movements that, when done effectively, look magical; and, indeed, some swimmers are blessed with that magic naturally. Many other swimmers struggle to master the complex task of performing an effective dolphin kick. For those swimmers, breaking the dolphin kick down into its component movements and hammering some blocked practice with the components over time can yield and effective part-to-whole transfer into a complete and effective dolphin kick.

The most difficult and fundamental component movement of the dolphin kick is the pelvic rotation from an anterior pelvic tilt to a posterior pelvic tiltC. Le Clos Knee Flexion Dolphin Kick and back. Two wall exercises, called “Banana Peels,” isolate the anterior and posterior pelvic tilt using the same muscle groups that are engaged during the dolphin kick. This isolated rehearsal trains the proper muscle groups to fire in the proper order to effect a powerful, efficient dolphin kick.

The first exercise, the outward-facing “Banana Peel,” trains the transition from neutral pelvis to posterior pelvic tilt and vice versa. Many people practice the posterior pelvic tilt on their backs in Pilates or in Yoga, using a bridge driven from the legs to tilt the bottom of the pelvis off the ground. While this introduces the positioning of the pelvis that drives into the down-kick, it does not engage the muscle groups that actually inflence extreme posterior pelvic tilt necessary for a maximally effective dolphin kick and so is not effective motor learning for the dolphin kick. The outward-facing Banana Peel translates more directly into the dolphin kick, as the Banana Peel engages the proper muscle groups in the proper order used to perform the dolphin kick. See a demonstration of the outward-facing Banana Peel: https://youtu.be/aMSWhbeSGk0

The second exercise, the wall-facing “Banana Peel,” trains transition from an anterior pelvic tilt to a neutral pelvis and vice versa. See demonstration: https://youtu.be/o1KEiksHH2M

Following and in conjunction with the Banana Peels, it is necessary to add hydrodynamics into the motor learning. For the first step, it is ideal to isolate the same muscle groups used on the wall by kicking with a board at the surface. This will allow the swimmer to hold the line that was being held on the wall but now with a kickboard instead. Contrary to common practice, the kickboard should not be “pumped” with the arms. It should be held level and still as described here: https://youtu.be/wL9OriLTjQA

The kickboard drill adds the components of timing and flow to the basic muscle-firing that was done on the wall; however, the kickboard drill is not fully effective at training the motor learning of a quick, powerful transition from the down kick into the up kick. Learning this component requires an additional mechanism: the threat of sinking. This can be accomplished by furthering the motor learning mastery that was done first on the wall, then with a board, now into a drill without the board, but with the same body position: head-up dolphin kick, arms extended, as shown here: https://youtu.be/GeeUVjEiSbU

Further augmentation of the kick can be achieved through a fifth drill, again, done in sequence after beginning to master the first four drills Katie-Ledecky-Underwater-Smallmentioned above: underwater dolphin kick on the back, deep under water. This teches follow-through in front of the body. The lower-density water toward the surface and the orientation of the entire body up toward the surface invites greater follow-through than felt in the previous drills. Again, the movements trained in the prior drills are carried forward into this one, with an additional component of greater follow-through in front of the body: https://youtu.be/XjQ2vptNi9Y

Finally, the follow-through and amplitude achieved through the deep-underwater dolphin kick on the back needs to be matched symmetrically behind at the top of the up-kick. For this component, swimmers can kick on their sides in the middle of the lane with one arm extended out front. The stillness front arm and straightness of the path cut it cuts down the middle of the lane enforce a symmetrical kick. The arm can be made to perceive this with greater sensitivity by slapping the forearm prior to performing this drill: https://youtu.be/tA1VBOcGQpY

These six drills, performed over time with stepwise mastery and prolonged blocked practice can effect motor learning of the dolphin kick in a part-to-whole transfer.

Bridger Bell is in his first year assistant coaching with Johns Hopkins and is also the head coach at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, MD. Prior to that, he coached at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, where his boys and girls teams each won Georgia High School State Championships.

Bell served for six years as the National Director of Collegiate Club Swimming for the American Swimming Association, presiding over its growth from four to sixty-eight teams across the country and holding over 40 regular-season meets, seven regional championships and a national championship each season. Bell has been a competitive swimmer himself all his life and was a USMS National Champion and USMS All-American in the 2-mile cable swim. He was featured as a coach in the July and August 2014 issues of Swimming World Magazine. In addition to high school and now NCAA teams, Bell has coached summer league, collegiate club, USA Swimming, Masters.

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SSP 018: Swimming Club Culture, Continuing Education, and Dealing with Difficult Swimmers with Chris Plumb of Carmel Swim Club

This episode of the Swimming Science Podcast features Chris Plumb, head coach of the Carmel Swim Club in Carmel, Indiana.

Chris Plumb was named Head Coach of Carmel Swim Club in July 2006, but has been with the program since 2003.  As Head Coach, Chris oversees all aspects of the club, and he coaches the Senior Group.  He is a dynamic leader for our organization, and works tirelessly to push Carmel to be a model club both in the state of Indiana and nationally.  Chris’s execution of his vision for Carmel Swim Club has pushed us towards recognition as a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club of Excellence in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Chris brings a wealth of swimming experience to CSC.  Before joining the Carmel staff, the Indiana University graduate led the Cane Aquatics Club in Coral Gables, Florida.  Chris also served as Assistant Coach at the University of Miami for four years, where he was involved in all aspects of a program that ranked among the nation’s top twenty every year.  He cut his coaching teeth in Indiana, as Head Coach of the Bloomington South High School Boy’s Team.  In his only year at the helm, Bloomington South’s swimmers all achieved best times.

When Chris took over as Head Coach of the Carmel Swim Club, there were zero Junior National or Olympic Trials qualifiers amongst our ranks.  In the six years since Chris became Head Coach that has changed drastically.  Carmel proudly took 17 athletes to the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.  CSC has two USA Swimming National Junior Team Members (Lauren Stauder – 2009, Harrison Wagner – 2011).  At Junior Nationals in 2009, the CSC girls finished fifth and broke a 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 400 Medley Relay.  In 2010 Carmel finished seventh in overall combined team scoring and the girls won the 400 Medley Relay.  At the 2010 Short Course Nationals in Columbus, Ohio Carmel finished sixth in combined team scoring.   In 2011, CSC finished 12th in combined team scoring, and the girls finished eighth at Junior Nationals in Palo Alto, and Harrison Wagner was named the 18 and Under National Champion in the 50 Freestyle at Nationals.  This week, as Carmel hosts Junior Nationals, 21 of Coach Plumb’s swimmers will take to the pool in the most elite 18 and under competition in our sport.

Chris is also the Head Coach at Carmel High School.  He directed the 2012 Carmel Boys and Girls Swim Teams to IHSAA State Championship Titles.  Coach Plumb has been at the helm for the last six of the Lady Hound’s 26 consecutive titles and this was his third consecutive title for the boys.  He was inducted into the 2011 class of honorees in the Indiana Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame.

Coach Plumb also devotes his time and energy to both Indiana and USA Swimming supported camps.  Most recently, Chris served as the Head Coach for the Indiana Swimming Olympic Training Center camp, which 14 Carmel swimmers attended.  Chris was also the Head Coach for this camp in 2009.  Chris has also served as an assistant coach for USA Swimming’s National Select Camp in 2009, the Head Coach of the Eastern Zone Select Camp in 2010, an assistant at the 2006 Central Zone Select Camp, and as an assistant coach for the Indiana Central Zone Team in 2005.Under Chris’s leadership, Carmel has made an impressive impact on the state level, as well.  Coach Plumb works hard to direct the programming and curriculum of Carmel Swim Club towards a path of long-term developmental success.  This was on fantastic display at the 2012 Indiana SwimFest State Championships a few weeks ago.  At the SwimFest, CSC scored 3,883 combined team points.  Notably, this score is higher than the total points earned by both the second and third-place finishing teams.  More than 100 individual athletes contributed to the final team score, and CSC swimmers in each age group made an impact.  Along the road to victory, CSC broke 11 more club records and established four new Indiana State Meet and Association Records.

Chris succeeds not just in inspiring his swimmers with his character and coaching, but also through his actions.  Chris swam on relays at both the 2010 SCY and 2011 LCM USA Swimming National Championships.  He embodies the mandate he gives to all Carmel swimmers: do not be afraid to dream and work towards the highest level of our sport.  He works tirelessly to push Carmel Swim Club to the pinnacle of success and the way he has put his dreams and vision into reality have made this club a model for programs across the nation.

Chris lives in Carmel with his wife, Emily and sons William and Nicholas.


  • Season swimming planning.
  • Creating swimming club culture.
  • Coaches continuing education.
  • Staff meetings.
  • National team meetings.
  • Coaches burnout.
  • Dealing with difficult swimmers.

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Thanks for joining me for this episode. I know the conversation broke up a few times and I apologize, I’m still very new with this! If you have any tips, suggestions, or comments about this episode, please be sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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If you enjoyed this podcast, tell Chirs on Twitter @CSCSwimcoach

The post SSP 018: Swimming Club Culture, Continuing Education, and Dealing with Difficult Swimmers with Chris Plumb of Carmel Swim Club appeared first on Swimming Science.