ed Sci Sports Exerc.[/url] 1993 Aug;25(8):952-9.Dry-land resistance training for competitive swimming.
Tanaka H, Costill DL, Thomas R, Fink WJ, Widrick JJ.
Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306.
To determine the value of dry-land resistance training on front crawl swimming performance, two groups of 12 intercollegiate male swimmers were equated based upon preswimming performance, swim power values, and stroke specialties. Throughout the 14 wk of their competitive swimming season, both swim training group (SWIM, N = 12) and combined swim and resistance training group (COMBO, N = 12) swam together 6 d a week. In addition, the COMBO engaged in a 8-wk resistance training program 3 d a week. The resistance training was intended to simulate the muscle and swimming actions employed during front crawl swimming. Both COMBO and SWIM had significant (P < 0.05) but similar power gains as measured on the biokinetic swim bench and during a tethered swim over the 14-wk period. No change in distance per stroke was observed throughout the course of this investigation. No significant differences were found between the groups in any of the swim power and swimming performance tests. In this investigation, dry-land resistance training did not improve swimming performance despite the fact that the COMBO was able to increase the resistance used during strength training by 25-35%. The lack of a positive transfer between dry-land strength gains and swimming propulsive force may be due to the specificity of training.
So all research has to be taken in context. I have done my own research with full documentation on the benefits of strength work by swimmers, runners etc.. We can all agree that you can find some research from all angles, supporting one claim or another. In this case swimming was the focus. Anyone with half a brain knows that swimming is about technique, less about overall power or strength, although both improved would lead to better splits in the water.
When (most) people talk about strength they think of squats, presses etc. When I set up a program for a swimmer it includes these, some of the time. In my experience, the greatest improvement I have seen in swimmers is, when I focus my strength programs on shoulder stabilizing moves. (Improving the function of the scapula and also improving the strength of the rotator cuff and shoulders in general. This provides for better shoulder health and more compression/ slash stability = more power and consistency in the water. My wife was an all American and national level swimmer in college who can attest to the improvements. (as can the 1000's of swimmers I have worked with over the years) At the base level a pre-hab strength plan can keep a swimmer in the water injury free. The added strength and stability to the shoulder will lead to more efficiency over all distances.
I see the research and agree with "their finding's", for their research. Remember it's all about the individual program and how it's applied!