SWIMMING TALENT IDENTIFICATION IS DIFFICULT
Bloomfield, J., Blanksby, B. A., & Ackland, T. R. (1990). Morphological and physiological growth of competitive swimmers and non-competitors through adolescence. The Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22, 4-12.
Growth related differences in physical and physiological characteristics were studied in serious competitive swimmers (N = 95) and a matched group of non-competitors (N = 102). Male and female swimmers were analyzed separately and then compared at each pubescent stage.
Male swimmers were differentiated from non-competitors at various developmental stages as follows:
Variables such as height, body mass, mesomorphy, ectomorphy, and measures of joint mobility do not differentiate between male competitors and non-competitors up to and including stage 5 of development.
Female swimmers were differentiated from non-competitors at four developmental stages as follows:
In females variables such as height, body mass, skinfold sum, flexibility, and girth measures do not differentiate between competitors and non-competitors up to and including stage 5 of development.
During adolescence, factors which differentiate competitive swimmers from non-competitive swimmers are gender specific. Any testing programs for whatever purpose (e.g., talent identification) would have to be different for each gender.
Implication. Talent identification for swimming performance, based on physical and physiological parameters for both males and females, would be of limited value prior to pubescent stage 3 (the emergence of darker, coarser, curled pubic hair and in girls minor but defined breast development - approximately 13 years of age for males and 12 years for females). From then on several variables might be used to "locate" potential swimmers but those variables will be different for males than those which are appropriate for females.
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