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Joel Stager
Professor, HPER

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Indiana University research center to study science of swimming

Center honors legendary swim coach James "Doc" Counsilman

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A research center to study swimming is being created at the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) to honor legendary IU swim coach James "Doc" Counsilman.

"There are several goals for the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, which will house Doc's personal archives and reflect his enthusiasm and vision," explained Joel Stager, a HPER faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology and director of the IU Human Performance Laboratory.

"As an independent research center, we want to study new training techniques and technology in swimming," Stager said. "We also want to describe the benefits of swimming in terms of health and wellness, assess competitive and recreational athletes, and disseminate information to an international audience of coaches, swimmers and researchers."

Last year, a project by Stager through the center analyzed the effect of full-length body suits used by Olympic swimmers at the summer games in Australia.

"We want to fill the void on the science of swimming," Stager said, "by becoming a center to study the science and coaching involved in swimming. We want to help coaches learn how to better train athletes, not just swimmers."

Counsilman, who resides in Bloomington, was the swim coach at IU from 1957 until he retired in 1991. His teams won 20 consecutive Big Ten Championships (1961-81) and 140 consecutive dual meets (1966-79). He coached the U.S. Olympic Team in 1964 and 1976. He was National Swimming Coach of the Year twice and is a member of the International Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame.

Counsilman's academic credentials include authoring four books and more than 100 articles on swimming and coaching. He taught at HPER for more than 30 years in the fields of sport physiology, sport psychology and human biomechanics.

The archives donated to the center by Counsilman are an extensive collection on swimming history and coaching. "Doc was meticulous about keeping statistics and recording his daily training thoughts, and the material we have in this area covers nearly 50 years of the sport. His swimming history books cover 100 years," Stager said. This information is of interest to swim coaches and researchers who want details on the evolution of the sport and Counsilman's training techniques, he explained.

Current funding for the center is from a USA Swimming grant. Stager hopes this can be expanded through assistance from the IU Foundation and through future fund-raising efforts. "As more individuals and corporations interested in swimming become aware of this research facility and our plans for the future, we hope to increase our financial support," he said.

Stager and Dave Tanner, coordinator of athletic assessment at HPER, are the key backers of the research center. Both are avid swimmers who compete in age group events. Stager also is editor of the Journal of Swimming Research. Tanner, who swam for Counsilman at IU, is a national champion in masters swimming. Both Stager and Tanner also coach area high school swim teams.

For more details on the Counsilman Center, contact Stager at 812-855-1637, or go to the center's Web site at