Sharp, R. L, Troup, J. P., & Costill, D. L. (1982). Relationship between power and sprint freestyle swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 14, 53-56.

Male (N = 18) and female (N = 22) swimmers currently training at varying degrees of commitment were tested for maximal arm power, peak force, and work on a Biokinetic Swim Bench. Test-retest correlations of r = .93 were obtained as assessments of reliability. Measurements were made on the best of three trials at settings of 0, 3, 6, and 9. After 5 min rest, each subject performed a 45 sec fatigue test at setting 0 with a velocity of 1.6 m/sec. Swimming speed was determined from three 25 yd trials with a very wide range of speeds between Ss.

Highest arm power measures were recorded at 2.66 m/sec. The correlation between one maximum pull at that speed and 25-yd swimming was r = .9. Total work in the fatigue test was closely related (r = .96) to single pull.

The study incorporated a questionable mini-investigation where four untrained Ss engaged in pull training on an adapted mini-gym for four weeks. Power improved 19% while swimming speed improved 4%. However, it cannot be concluded that this form of training would benefit highly fit swimmers. That is because in untrained subjects, any fitness training is likely to cause performance to improve up to a certain standard.

Results. Fatiguability, as measured in this study, was not related to sprint performance but is better related to the type of training performed. It should be realized that this study showed a relationship between power (maximum very fast actions against low resistance) not strength (slower movements against high resistance) to be related to 25-yd swimming speed.

Implication. It is very easy to show improvements in performance and auxiliary training exercises in untrained subjects. One should not infer that such training would also be appropriate for highly trained or seriously training swimmers.

The type of exercise used here emphasized speed of movement over resistance which, logically, would seem to be related to speed swimming. Thus, the characteristic of land-based pulling exercises that should be emphasized is maximum pull speed and effort (power) rather than effort (strength). If one does not practice fast movements, sprint speed improvement will not occur.

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