BOOK REVIEW: "Power & Towers & Swimming: The Guide" by Jake Shellenberger, Head Coach at Liberty University

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This past summer I had the opportunity to share the pool deck with Jake Shellenberger, Head Swim Coach at Liberty University as his squad and mine both rented time at our local outdoor 50m pool.  I would occasionally pick his brain on training, and we had many interesting discussions on a variety of topics, so you can imagine my eagerness when he told me he was putting together a book.

His recently completed “Power & Towers & Swimming: The Guide” is a rich, detailed book on how to use some of what he deems the most valuable “toys” a swim coach has: Power Towers and Power Racks.  Shellenberger explains his power-based training philosophy that crystallized during his time as sprint coach at Penn State and during a particularly formative summer as an understudy at Frank Busch and Rick DeMont’s 2007 Arizona squad that would go on to win double NCAA Championships the following spring.  Shellenberger has brought that learning to bear since 2009 at Liberty with much success, and distills it very transparently and extensively in this book.

His very organized thought process is reflected in the 11-chapter construction of the book.  He leaves no stone unturned in outlining how to make make Power a part of the training for EVERY swimmer on your squad, regardless of distance or stroke orientation.  At Liberty, Shellenberger and his Assistant Coach Jessica Barnes have every swimmer train on the Towers multiple times per week, and the book provides many real-world examples of how it has helped his swimmers improve.  They don’t just do short 25 yard blasts with the Towers, but plenty of drilling, kicking, and other power-based training, each of which has its own devoted chapter.  The book doesn’t just explain what they do, it gives exact sets that you can use directly or adapt for your team.

As a club coach with a background developing swimmers with a hearty dose of training, I expected “Power & Towers & Swimming” to be in the vein of much of the recent USRPT dogma.  I was pleased to find Shellenberger’s treatise much more nuanced than I anticipated.  His examples and distilled wisdom were extremely valuable and thought provoking, and have made a significant impact on my thought processes about how I train my swimmers.

Regardless of training philosophy, this book will have coaches pondering new ways to help swimmers get better, and is a MUST for every smart swim coach’s library.

Buy “Power & Towers & Swimming: The Guide” here.

Read Coach Shellenberger’s blog here.

Follow Coach Shellenberger on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Liberty Swimming and Diving here