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Gerald T. Mangine

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To assess the effect of swimming specialization on performance and injury risk in collegiate swimmers, thirty collegiate swimmers (20.1 ± 0.9 years [18.5 – 22.3 years]) were asked to complete an anonymous survey to provide information regarding their sports participation history, success in swimming, and the occurrence and quantity of swimming-related injuries. Specialization status was determined by the swimmer claiming they had specialized and by the number of months (≥ 8 months) they participated in swimming each year. Correlation analysis revealed several significant (p < 0.05) relationships between all determinants of specialization, swimming success, and swimming injuries. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that the age which an athlete specialized was the best predictor of the occurrence of a swimming- related injury (R2 = 0.34, p = 0.004) and the number of injuries sustained (R2 = 0.25, p = 0.019). Years of competitive swimming experience was the best predictor (p < 0.008) of performance in the freestyle stroke at 50-yards (R2 = 0.47), 100-yards (R2 = 0.53), and 500-yards (R2 = 0.43), the back stroke at 200-yards (R2 = 0.41), and the 100-yard butterfly (R2 = 0.55). The age in which the athlete specialized in swimming was the best predictor of the 200-yard individual medley (R2 = 0.30, p = 0.037). Our data suggests that swimming specialization may be beneficial for success in select swimming events but is not as important as years of competitive experience and may also lead to a greater number of swimming-related injuries.