news-category: Graduate programs

Gardner-Webb Graduate Student and Exercise Science Professor Publish Research

brady fields competing

Brady Fields, ’22, and Dr. Jeff Hartman Study Benefits of Power Racks for Swimmers

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Like any student-athlete at Gardner-Webb University, Brady Fields’ goal was to develop his muscles and improve his performance on the swim team. The 2022 alumnus and now a graduate student in the Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning program competed on the swim team for five years. His competitive spirit inspired him to research a trend in resistance training for swimmers.

Dr. Jeff Hartman, professor of exercise science, mentored Fields in his research, and their article, “Effective Use of Power Racks for Improved Swimming Performance,” is published in the August 2023 National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Coach issue.

A screenshot of the website, where the article by Brady Fields and Dr. Jeff Hartman is published.

“I chose this specific topic for my research because it was a topic that interests me, and I wanted to dive deeper into it and at least learn more about it myself,” Fields stated. “The research took several months to conduct and mostly consisted of finding relevant and legitimate information through other research articles as well as direct word of mouth from the sports more elite coaches.”

Fields praised the faculty in the Department of Exercise Science for incorporating various research opportunities into the curriculum. “Throughout my time at Gardner-Webb and specifically in the exercise science department, I completed many different research-oriented tasks and projects which helped set me up to be successful in this publication,” he shared. “This entire process has really helped me understand the research process more and will aid me in the further development of research articles in the future.” 

Brady Fields

In the article, Fields concluded that swimmers can benefit from using a power rack to engage an energy system in the body through six to eight bouts of all-out effort against a selected resistance. Swimmers can enhance their velocity through the water with each stroke by exercising this energy system and increasing resistance in the water. Using a power rack enhances explosive power while pushing off the walls or block when starting a race, increasing power per stroke.

Before the research was published, Fields was hired by Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., as an assistant sport performance coach to work with the swim and wrestling teams. He feels that his Gardner-Webb professors and studies in exercise science prepared him for the job.

“The most valuable thing to me (about GWU) is the student-professor relationships,” he observed. “The smaller class sizes allow much more meaningful relationships to grow between the professors and their students. Not only does this make class more enjoyable, it also creates a good post-graduation dynamic, which allows former students to ask for help from professors or celebrate accomplishments. The exercise science courses I took helped set me up with meaningful knowledge that will—and is helping—me to be successful in a professional career setting.” 

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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