Getting “the Edge” in Swimming

Michael Kleuh

As competitors, we search for any advantage over our opponents. Recently, we’ve seen advantages come as a new suit fabric or a promising new piece of equipment. But a larger discussion is coming to a head within our young sport: how do we reconcile new training methods with those that are tried and true?

Club Wolverine and Dolfin swimmer Michael Klueh explained his experience in a interview recently:

“THROUGHOUT MY CAREER (FIRST US NATIONALS APPEARANCE IN THE SUMMER OF 2002), I HAVE SEEN THE SHIFT TOWARDS A HIGHER IMPORTANCE BEING PLACED ON RACE PACE AND THE ABILITY TO MAINTAIN FAST SPEEDS IN PRACTICE. THIS MEANS THAT SOME DISTANCE MUST BE SACRIFICED IN THE PROCESS. DURING THAT SAME TIME PERIOD, SWIMMING HAS PROGRESSED BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS. MY CURRENT TRAINING PARTNERS STARE AT ME IN DISBELIEF WHEN I TELL THEM WHAT TIMES WERE CONSIDERED ‘REALLY FAST’ BACK AT THE START OF MY CAREER.”

Although it seems that these new methods may overtake the old, they do not come without caveats. For example, one of the main aspects of science is that it will explore all avenues without ruling any out before they can be tested. In the long run, this ideology yields great progression; but as we are working season by season, here and now, we have an obligation to remember that we are in the midst of this process. On top of this, there have been recent scares with the rigor of the peer review process where many scientific professionals have been using false data to further their position.

It is no mystery that maintaining a high level of yardage, dry land and weight training can yield fantastic results. We need only look at swimmers like Phelps and Lochte to validate this method. But what do we make of swimmers like Michael Andrews and programs that commit more energy to work outside the water? There is certainly something to be gained with these methods, whether it is recovery or lessening the monotony of training in the water. Along with that, it seems that science is on the side of the newcomers, pushing for more rest and more “quality” yardage.

Klueh observes that, “at Club Wolverine/University of Michigan, the coaches and athletes like to say, ‘Work still works.’ Maybe in this new age of swimming that should be slightly altered: smart work still works.”

Dolfin