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During the past few days, Coach Hal Ulen and his swimmers, have been conducting a series of tests, in co-operation with the Fatigue Laboratory, to discover the effect of oxygen inhalation on the speed and recuperative powers of the tankmen.
Main results of Ulen's tests showed that the value of oxygen for racing swimmers was negligible. However, since the principal effect of the gas in a pure form is to enable sprinters in the 50-yard free-style to hold their breath for the entire two laps, it was demonstrated that times for the 50 actually could be speeded up.
This was true in the case of Charlie Hutter, who, by inhaling oxygen for several minutes before the start of a time-trial, turned in the phenomenal time of 22.8 for the 50. The world's record is 22.6. However, Ulen was quick to deprecate the importance of Hutter's feat in view of the fact that it is likely that almost the same results can be achieved by "forced breathing."
The purpose of inhaling oxgen before a race is to fill the lungs with the gas, untainted by carbon monoxide, thus reducing for a short while the need of the swimmer for a breath.
Hutter was the only sprinter who was able to use the oxygen with good results. For any distance over the 50, the gas was worse than useless, since as soon as the swimmer would have to breath, the whole effect would be lost, and it would be accompanied by a minor let-down which actually slowed the men down.
Forced breathing, which consists of having the swimmer breath particularly deeply for a while before a race, achieves the same effects, Ulen said. Don Barker has been using this method with success. Because the Japanese Olympic swimmers, the Springfield varsity, and several mid-western colleges have all experimented with oxygen, Ulen said that, aside from co-operating with the Fatigue Laboratory for physiological experimentation, his reason for trying the gas was to dispell the false impression that it acted as a stimulant to greater speed.
Coach Ulen declared that the tests had been concluded and that no more oxygen would be used at all. The chief value of the tests, he said, was a psychological one--in other words the use of a non-stimulant aid such as oxygen, by Hutter, has showed the Crimson star that he is really capable of the remarkable times erroneously thought to be induced mainly by the gas.
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