DRAG SUITS OF NO VALUE
Dragunas, A. J., Dickey, J. P., & Nolte, V. W. (2012). The effect of drag suit training on 50-m freestyle performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(4), 989-994.
Little research has evaluated the effects of drag suit training in swimming; these effects need to be explored further to optimize their use in training. For this 5-week training study, Ss (N = 18) were divided evenly into two groups: a control group and drag suit-trained group. Both groups performed weekly training routines that included three sprint sets with the drag suit training group wearing the drag suit, and the control group wearing typical training attire. Ss' 50-m performance was assessed by a test set of six 50-m sprints on 10-minute intervals before and after the training program. The test set was performed on two different days where the Ss were tested once in the drag suit and once in regular training attire. The order of testing was randomized. Final time, stroke rate, and distance per stroke were collected.
The drag suit-trained group exhibited a statistically significant decrease in distance per stoke while wearing the drag suit and the control group showed a significant increase in stroke rate and decrease in distance per stroke (in both suits). "We suggest incorporating the drag suit into the training regimen and should be considered a valuable resistive training device for swimming."
Implication. Drag suits produce no valuable training effect for sprint swimming. All they do is decrease stroke length. There is no value in wearing such suits because they do not help a swimmer's performance and only suggest that with more prolonged use they might even harm performance. These statements are contradictory to what was espoused in the original article.
Qualification. This article was published with some troubling contradictions. Graphical representations of the data did no match what was said in the text. After contacting the primary author, his helpful corrections were as follows:
The figure in the article is correct. It showed that the control group had better performance changes than the drag-suit group although the differences were not statistically significant.
Drag suits offer no benefit over that which is obtained from free-swimming.
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