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by Lee Nessel

July 19, 2000

Fabulous swimmer and exercise physiologist

David Costill, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, is perhaps best known for his exercise physiology contributions to swimming research, but he also made quite a splash this year with nine first place finishes and six national records. After swimming at Ohio State University, he took up running in the 1960s and ran marathons for about 20 years. His knees went bad, and he turned back to swimming in order to stay in shape. “I thought I'd go back to the pool, and I nearly drowned. It was awful."

After a few months of training in 1982, Doc Counsilman, the legendary Indiana University coach, talked Costill into trying out a meet. "Some of my graduate students talked me into shaving down, which I had never done before, and all my times dropped dramatically. So then I was hooked." He said training with the men's team at Ball State made all the difference. "I suddenly was going seven seconds faster in a 200 than I was going in college."

Having written six books and close to 400 scientific publications, most of Costill's current research is geared toward astronauts on the space shuttle program. The astronauts are in space for weeks at a time without weight, causing them to get weaker and weaker. "Our interest now and in the immediate future is to look at what kind of training the astronauts should be doing on board to counteract muscle atrophy."

Costill's normal workout regimen includes 2,000 to 2,500 high intensity yards four or five days a week. David Costill lives in Muncie, Ind., and swims for Doc's Club.

Originally published in SWIM magazine, March-April 1997