To evaluate the efficacy of existing performance models to assess the progression of male and female adolescent swimmers through a quantitative and qualitative mixed-methods approach.
Fourteen published models were tested using retrospective data from an independent sample of Dutch junior national-level swimmers from when they were 12–18 y of age (n = 13). The degree of association by Pearson correlations was compared between the calculated differences from the models and quadratic functions derived from the Dutch junior national qualifying times. Swimmers were grouped based on their differences from the models and compared with their swimming histories that were extracted from questionnaires and follow-up interviews.
Correlations of the deviations from both the models and quadratic functions derived from the Dutch qualifying times were all significant except for the 100-m breaststroke and butterfly and the 200-m freestyle for females (P < .05). In addition, the 100-m freestyle and backstroke for males and 200-m freestyle for males and females were almost directly proportional. In general, deviations from the models were accounted for by the swimmers’ training histories. Higher levels of retrospective motivation appeared to be synonymous with higher-level career performance.
This mixed-methods approach helped confirm the validity of the models that were found to be applicable to adolescent swimmers at all levels, allowing coaches to track performance and set goals. The value of the models in being able to account for the expected performance gains during adolescence enables quantification of peripheral factors that could affect performance.