TAMPA, Fla. — Swimmer David McCagg won the 1978 World Championship in the 100-meter freestyle. He won two more golds at the 1979 Pan-Am Games.
After his competitive career, he decided to step away from the pool. But when came back more than three decades later he knew he had to help change the sport.
"I got back into swimming after 37 years of being out of it. I walked out onto the deck, and basically, they had the same type of resistance training," said McCagg, founder and CEO of GMX7. "So what we came up with is a device that is like inventing the Apple iPhone back with the payphone."
He's talking about the X-1 Pro. It's a six-inch-long weighted device that's hooked on a line (that stretches the length of the pool) and provides water-resistance while swimmers tow it behind themselves in the water. It doesn't look like much, but it's changing how world-class athletes train.
Former University of Florida and U.S. Olympic head coach, and current Gator Swim Club Elite coach, Gregg Troy said he was skeptical of trying a brand new device, but he and his athletes quickly saw the benefits.
"The reason why I know they like ‘em... It’s not a lot of fun to do all the time because they get pretty tired doing it," Troy said. "But they continually ask me 'When are we doing them again?' These guys, they’re professionals. They’re not going to do something that they don’t feel like it helps them."
The pandemic pushed the 2020 Olympics back to next summer, but that hasn't slowed down Troy's top swimmer.
Former Gator star Caeleb Dressel's considered by many to be the top active male swimmer in the world. He's coming off a performance where he broke two world records at a competition in Hungary. Troy said they managed to find a silver lining in dealing with COVID-19 restrictions, and it actually helped their training process.
"We did some things differently than we would’ve done before and found out it was really good. We found those things to be beneficial," Troy said. "We competed well. Caeleb was outstanding. I think some of that attributes to having a little length of time where we weren’t under the gun."
"We’re extremely excited about Gregg and his pros being able to train [on the X-1 Pro] and make an Olympic team and win gold medals," McCagg said. He was quick to add that the device alone won't turn someone into an Olympic champion, but it will enhance their level of training. McCagg also said he's shipped more than 400 of the X-1 Pro devices, and nobody's asked for their money back.
Dressel is projected to win as many as eight gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.