Breed, R. V., Young, W. B., & McElroy, G. K. (September, 2000). The effect of a resistance-training program on the grab, swing, and track starts in swimming. 2000 Pre-Olympic Congress in Sports Medicine and Physical Education: International Congress on Sport Science. Brisbane, Australia. [On line at]

The effectiveness of a resistance-training program aimed at improving vertical jumping ability, and the grab, swing, and rear-weighted track starts in swimming was evaluated. To minimize any effects of previous learning, non-competitive swimmers (N = 23) served as Ss (mean age 19.9 2.4 yrs). The dive techniques were practiced 30 minutes a week for eight weeks. Ss were randomly assigned to a control group (N = 11) or a resistance-training group (N=12). Resistance training was performed three times a week for nine weeks. Pre and post-tests were conducted involving two randomly ordered trials of each dive technique on a modified starting block. Force components produced by the feet were measured using a Kistler force plate, and by the hands via a hand-bar instrumented with load cells. Video was used to measure temporal and kinematic variables. Six dry-land tests were performed - two countermovement jumps (with and without arms), two CES squats (25/s and 40/s bar speed), and two overhead shot throws (with and without back extension), with the best of three trials being recorded. A repeated measures MANOVA showed that resistance training significantly improved performance in the dry-land tests (p < 0.0001). No significant improvements were found for any temporal, kinematic, or kinetic variable for the grab or swing starts. Significant training improvements (p < 0.05) were found in the track start for take-off velocity, take-off angle, and horizontal impulse of the hands. Results suggested that the improved skill of vertical jumping was not transferred directly to swimming racing starts, and in particular the grab technique.

Implication. Dry-land strength training improves dry-land activities but not the performance of swimming racing starts. The best way to train for racing starts is to actually practice the starts; a manifestation of the Principle of Specificity in skill training.

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