Bartlett, M. L., & Etzel, E. (2007). A single case design approach to monitoring the effects of intense training on immune function and mood state in swimmers. ACSM Annual Meeting New Orleans, Presentation Number, 2014.

A single-case study design was used to monitor five swimmers over seven weeks in two of the potential areas where an adverse response to training may occur, namely the immunological factor of mucosal immunity and the psychological parameter of mood. It was hypothesized that as the season progressed and training load accumulated, the immune factor would decrease and total mood disturbance would increase. A secondary purpose was to explore if illness or stress from sources outside of athletics coincided with changes in these variables. Variables were assessed once per week for seven weeks during the first half of an intercollegiate swimming season. Immune factor was assessed by salivary IgA and mood was assessed with the Brief Assessment of Mood State. Life stress outside of sport, training load, and health status were queried at each assessment.

There was much inter- and intra-variability in three of the five Ss. There were decreasing immune factor levels during the later half of the study. However, only one S exhibited a consistent decreasing trend throughout the study. The same S showed an increase in total mood disturbance in a dose-response manner. Another of the participants showed a stable, higher total mood disturbance than the others over the length of the study, but not an overall increasing trend. Only one S exhibited trends consistent with the hypothesized relationships among all variables (an increased total mood disturbance and lowered immune factor levels), which were not correlated with life stress.

Implication. This study verifies the need to monitor intensely training athletes on a case basis in both practical and research settings. Considerable variability among Ss' data over time would have been masked in a group experimental design. There is a need to move away from group experimental designs when studying training effects. As well, coaches should also move away from training squads of swimmers and provide more individualized training programs.

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