The great improvement in speed swimming is no doubt greatly due to the improved style or stroke of the individual swimmer rather than to any pre scribed form of training. In this connection the • que'stion of training becomes interesting, for there is no doubt that the swimming world has seen the fallacy of over-training, which is consid erably overdone in other forms of sports. We are thus brought up to a fair pitch of excellence by a process of elimination and to the fact that in creased speed is almost entirely due to alteration in the style acquired.
The writer recently had an interesting interview on this .subject with Mr. W. Webb, of Liverpool, (brother of the late Captain Webb). He assured me his brother was always against the practice of overtraining ; he believed in good, ordinary, plain living, with plenty of walking and several long distance swims, with corresponding intervals of complete rest. This was his general routine before undertaking any long distance swimming. The practice of taking a complete rest is specially suitable to a swimmer, as it is imperative that the muscles should be pliable, and not hard and knotty as in other forms of sport. A swimmer's prepara tion differs almost entirely from that which may be recommended for any other branch of athletics. In only one respect would I advise any similarity of treatment, and that is the way of massage, which is too much neglected by the average swim mer. The chief parts requiring constant massage are the chest and sides, the shoulder muscles re quiring special attention. The question of diet
is often treated under a special heading, ably when there is no need for it, as I maintain a person who is strong enough to go in for a course of special training should be lead by the principle advocated by the late Captain Webb. A swimmer must, of course, keep in condition ; that is to say, build up his strength and staying power, but in no case should he overtax his heart, and before going in for any long course of swimming would strongly advise consulting a doctor, for although short, easy spells of swimming strengthen the heart, if taken under proper conditions, it natur ally throws a heavy load on this vital organ if the powers of the swimmer are over-strained, which in all good training is entirely eliminated. There are, unfoitunately, many so-called experts in the training world who do not know the first rudi ments of anatomy, and if one were to question them on the functions of the heart they would not be able to give the slightest idea of its size, let alone its relation to the blood-vessels of the sys tem, preferring to use their own ideas and judg ment, often with disastrous effects. Training is really a science, and those desiring a good foun dation should only consult leading instructors of some recognized institution, or those who have proved, by the health and success of their pupils, they are competent to undertake such important duties.