The Influence of a Supervised and Unsupervised Strength and Conditioning Program for Elite Adolescent Freestyle Swimmers Case Study

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Stuart Evans
Daniel Gahreman


Adolescent swimmers, Strength and conditioning., Exercise adherence


Introduction: Adolescent high school swimmers, aged 13-16 years, are an athletic population that can benefit from a strength and conditioning (S&C) program which caters for their developmental and sports-specific needs. The aim of this case study was to analyze the adherence to and subsequent effect of a short-term (12-week) combined supervised and unsupervised S&C program in elite adolescent swimmers during a competitive season.

Methods: Seven elite adolescent swimmers (4 females, 3 males) completed the study (age: 15.2 ± 0.5 years; mass: 64.5 ± 5.1 kg; stature: 1.76 ± 0.07 m). The participants were required to adhere to one supervised S&C session and two unsupervised S&C sessions per week that were performed on non-consecutive days while maintaining their traditional swimming training schedules. The unsupervised component was delivered digitally with participant feedback monitored. The S&C program consisted of upper- and lower limbs exercises with low loads and low volume as well as bodyweight exercise. Adherence to both programs was measured by attendance with correlational analysis conducted from total S&C program adherence to swim performance. The effect of the S&C training protocol was assessed using performance time pre and post the S&C intervention during the 50-m freestyle swim.

Results: The S&C training program intervention resulted in significant improvements in the 50-m freestyle swim (p < 0.001, d = >1). Total adherence to the supervised and unsupervised parts of the S&C program was 88% while adherence to the digital only component was 76%. Although a correlation was observed between total adherence to the combined supervised and unsupervised S&C program (r = 0.8, p = 0.0243) and improved 50 m freestyle swim performance, this was not the case when the unsupervised component was compared to swim time performance (r = 0.4, p = 0.679).

Conclusions: This case study demonstrated that a 12-week S&C intervention has a positive effect on elite adolescents’ 50 m freestyle swim performance. Furthermore, swim performance was improved when participant adherence to both formats of the S&C program were met.  This study supports the development of S&C interventions to develop these correlates and increase adherence.

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