The Need To Be Discerning With ‘Guides’ On The Art & Science Of Progress In The Pool

The Nature of “Information” in the Age of the Internet – By John Leonard, Executive Director, American Swimming Coaches Association – a message to young coaches, parents and swimmers at risk of soaking up ‘fake science’ and poor ‘knowledge’

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Maybe I am getting too old but I didn’t get what this article is all about. Was it peer-reviewed? I doubt it.
There is a clear definition of what science is that can be found in any vocabulary. Is Mr. Leonard trying to redefine it? What for?
“Science is a systematic enterprise that creates, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe”. If whatever someone states is testable then I don’t care who he/she is – experienced coach, my neighbour, some guy posting to this site or high school swimmer. Empirical knowledge (that is experience) has nothing to do with the scientific theory even if it was discussed and approved at some clinic. It is a blind search of patterns. It is an alchemy, not a science. PED – that is science.

Tom Lindsay

Wow, what a terrible conclusion from what I thought was going to be a great article.

Taking non-scientific advice from established and/or respected coaches is equally as bad as (and potentially more dangerous than) taking advice from online self-proclaimed gurus. As recently as last month for example, Gary Hall Sr. of the Race Club suggested dolphin kicking during the last 5-10m of freestyle races in order to finish faster (based on finishes displayed by Phelps at a recent Grand Prix meet which were no doubt recommended by world-renowned Olympic swimming coach Bob Bowman). Whilst anyone with a basic knowledge of fluid mechanics can tell you that performing this hybrid “butter-free” technique is a really bad idea, Hall Sr.’s suggestion proves that sometimes “world class” coaches really have no idea what they are talking about in regards to certain areas of the sport (whether that be elements of technique, physiology etc).

Is Leonard suggesting that we should be, for example, listening to what Hall Sr. (and likely Bowman) are suggesting even though it contradicts principles that dynamicists have proven to be correct for decades? The conclusion of this article makes me think so.

If you truly want to be “cutting edge” then listen to what the scientists (it doesn’t matter whether they are coaches or not) and others that deal with facts are saying and use that information to build an evidence based programme. At the end of the day, listening to the unscientific opinions of a select few will get you nowhere.


Fro that fly-kick freestyle hybrid during last 5-10 metres, I guess it only worked for those who swim freestyle who also happen to be great butterflyers.

In fact, AFAIK, there have been only two have attempeted the feat in their freestyle successfully:
Michael Klim who did it in 2000 and now Phelps.

Both are WR holders in 100 fly when attempting the feat.

If, say, Cielo or Magnussen or McEvoy attempted to do the same thing, I don’t think it would be nearly as successful.
Sjostrom may try this, though.

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