A Research Splash
Ohio Wesleyan Study Designed to Keep Athletes in the Swim of Things
By Cole Hatcher
DELAWARE, Ohio – One of the latest research articles published by the peer-reviewed Sport Journal is authored by four Ohio Wesleyan University alumni – three members of the Class of 2020 and their professor, 2007 OWU graduate Andrew Busch.
The 2020 graduates – Morgan Barnard, Tyler Mansfield, and Liz Mayio – were all Health and Human Kinetics/exercise science majors and members of the Battling Bishop women’s swimming and diving team. Busch, Ed.D., was an OWU sports and exercise major and currently is an assistant professor of Health and Human Kinetics.
Their co-written journal article is an exploration of how the Ohio Wesleyan swim team’s 2018-2019 season affected the shoulder strength of both its male and female members. The article, “Gender Differences in Shoulder Strength, Range of Motion, and Functional Movement across a Division III Collegiate Swim Season,” appears in the journal’s July 17 edition. The Sport Journal, founded in 1998, is published by the U.S. Sports Academy in Alabama.
Studying Shoulder Strength
“Since swimmers are constantly battling shoulder problems,” Busch said, “we basically wanted to know if there was a difference in the way male and female swimmers’ shoulders respond to a full collegiate swim season.”
To make the data easy to collect, monitor, and replicate, Busch said, he and his student-researchers selected to study shoulder strength, range of motion (ROM), and a selection of functional movements.
“We discovered there are gender differences, in fact,” he said. “Females’ relative strength improved, while male relative shoulder strength decreased by the end of the season.
“Both genders’ shoulder ROM was reduced after the season, basically meaning their shoulders got ‘tighter’ throughout the season,” Busch continued. “Most of the time we would consider this to be detrimental, but we proposed tightening of the shoulder capsule may be a protective mechanism against injury due to the high volume of swimming during the season.”
As a result of the group’s research, Busch said, he anticipates swim coach Richard Hawes will consider new training strategies.
“I believe Coach Hawes will now be reassessing how he ‘tapers’ his swimmers going into NCAC championships, realizing the male swimmers may need a bit more time to recover (longer tapers) to allow full recovery before big meets.”
Expanding Career Opportunities
Busch said he was impressed with the work of his student-researchers and is proud to have published with them.
“All of the OWU HHK students did an amazing job at helping organize the study, from design to data collection pre- and post-season,” he said of Barnard, Mansfield, and Mayio. “Without their persistence with the swim team, we would not have gathered the necessary data.”
Barnard said the research will be helpful with her future career goals.
“It was really exciting news to find out we were getting published!” she said. “Conducting this research helped me realize the imbalances that are presented in swimmers’ shoulders and how important strength training is for swimmers. This is something that will help me in the future when I coach high school swimming.”
Next up for her, Barnard said, is attending graduate school at Chatham University in Pittsburgh and getting a master’s in food studies.
As for Mansfield, she is headed to the opposite side of the country to attend grad school at Seattle University to study kinesiology.
“Conducting research with Dr. Busch helped me figure out that I really enjoy doing research on athletes, said Mansfield, who also earned OWU minors in Spanish and Zoology.
“I actually chose the research track for my program in Seattle because of that study,” she said. “Additionally, I started my own research study my senior year but unfortunately never got to test the athletes. We worked so hard on this project my junior year, and I am so glad to see our work paid off!”
Mayio also is pursuing grad school with a goal of earning a doctorate in physical therapy.
“Conducting our own research with Dr. Busch allowed for hands-on experience with the protocols/procedures of what actually goes into making a legitimate scientific article,” said Mayio, who also minored in psychology. “The lessons that this experience has brought me will definitely help with my future endeavors. It definitely opened up my eyes to the many possible fields of research that you could get into.”
Learn more about The Sport Journal at https://thesportjournal.org. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Health and Human Kinetics and its general, exercise science, health promotion, sports and exercise management, and nutrition majors at owu.edu/HHK.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at owu.edu.