Grant advances aquatic exercise research

PULLMAN – Thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Swimming Pool Foundation, WSU researchers plan to create the National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Institute.

“This will be the world’s premiere center for aquatic health research,” says the institute director, Dr. Bruce Becker, a physician and research professor in WSU’s College of Education. “There is no other lab with this mission and focus. The foundation’s grant gives us tremendous movement forward. We intend to build on our initial research and fill the knowledge gaps of how water benefits our hearts, lungs and endocrine systems,”

Judy Mitchell, dean of the College of Education, said that creation of the institute will build upon WSU’s reputation for world-class research.
“This research is driven by the need to know more about the effects of aquatic exercise not only on general health and well being, but on specific medical conditions such as asthma, hypertension, osteoporosis, and obesity,” Mitchell noted. 

The National Swimming Pool Foundation has supported Becker’s research for three years. He works alongside Assistant Professor Kasee Hildenbrand, who teaches in the College of Education’s movement studies program and directs its athletic training education program.

 The researchers’ first respiratory study compared the effects of exercise on land to exercise in the water. The subjects were students of varying body fat, weight, and fitness levels.

Hildenbrand will incorporate the aquatics lab research findings into WSU’s  athletic training program, so its graduates have a sound scientific basis for the exercise advice they give to clients. She and Becker conduct their research in the National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Laboratory, located in the Bohler Gym Addition. They are awaiting final WSU administrative approval to turn the laboratory into an institute.

 “The lab links physiology, education, and athletics in ways that have opened collaborative opportunities, throughout WSU and with other universities,” said Hildenbrand.  

In the last four years, the National Swimming Pool Foundation has given more than $1.5 million to institutions of higher learning.  Those grants focus on understanding of aquatic health benefits, and on prevention of drowning, illness, and injury.

“We are committed to creating centers of excellence that will influence society,” said Thomas M. Lachocki, CEO of the foundation. “Research in aquatics has been a dry basin.…WSU is the key to open the flood gate.”

For more information, contact Bruce Becker, (509) 844-4155,; Kasee Hildenbrand, (509) 335-8834,; or Laurie Batter at the National Swimming Pool Foundation, (760) 438-9304,


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