Letter to the Editor: Response to Michael J. Stott’s February Article ‘Case for Volume’

PHOENIX, Arizona, February 23. THIS week, a trio of sports scientists sent Swimming World a response to February's article entitled 'Case for Volume' written by Michael J. Stott. This letter appears in its entirety below. Swimming World is always open to publishing responses to articles that appear both online and in print.

February 23, 2012

Dear Editor:

An article in the February issue of Swimming World by Stott 'examines the premise that mega-yardage is a requisite for distance swimming excellence.' While the article falls short of an outright endorsement of excessive training distance, the general connotation is that a 'history of heavy volume' is typical and quite probably necessary. Although there is no conclusion or recommendation, the article is summarized by the heading of the final section: 'overdistance is a key to success.'

To protect the health of swimmers, a high volume program must account for related medical conditions. While improved performance may accompany increased/excessive training distance, so will injury and illness. In the best interest of swimming, an article that presents 'mega-yardage' as an accepted training regimen must be tempered by the associated medical concerns.

For example, overuse (from excessive training distance) is one of the three primary risk factors for shoulder injury. Research shows that the other two factors – muscular imbalances and harmful technique – are almost universal. If a swimmer is asked to endure a mega-yardage regimen, it is imperative that the coach screens for and adjusts both muscular imbalances and harmful technique.

Increased training distance also means that corresponding adjustments in nutrition, hydration, and rest are necessary. If appropriate changes are not made as training distance is increased, illness and injury can result. Overdistance can impact a swimmer's physical and mental health in a number of ways, resulting in loss of training and performance time.

Shoulder injuries are approaching epidemic proportions anyway, so care must be taken to avoid additional risk. Hopefully, the article on 'The Case for Less Volume' in the March issue will encourage coaches to consider reduced volume options. However, given that proponents of mega-yardage may be reluctant to abandon a training approach they found successful, we ask that the editor consider publishing a comment on 'The Case for Volume' that explains the medical issues and presents options for minimizing the chance of injury and illness.


Rod Havriluk, Ph.D., Swimming Technology Research
Ted Becker, Ph.D., R.P.T., Everett Pacific Industrial Rehabilitation
Jim Miller, M.D., FAAFP/Sports Medicine, Family Practice Specialists of Richmond, P.C.

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