"short distance, high intensity...training exposure has delivered many benefits to the sprint fraternity of world swimming but at a massive cost to the performance of 200 metre and up events on national and international scenes"
He goes on, but you don't have to read much to understand how Sweetenham feels. He's not happy about this development, even if he concedes the progress made in shorter events. You don't have to look far to confirm Sweetenham's hypothesis. Progress on a percentage basis has been dramatic in events from the 200 on down for the last 35 years. Distance has improved relatively little since it's heyday in the same period.
The question I have: is that a bad thing? I'm sure you can guess my answer. I don't think so. I think that many older coaches, who grew up in the "distance generation", like Sweetenham, are too easily discounting how positive this change has been. Yes, if we still trained all swimmers mega volume, we would definitely have more distance swimmers, it would be easier to be a distance swimmer, and we likely would have progressed farther since.
I like to think more of all the sprinters and stroke specialists we trained right out of the sport in decades gone by that are now still swimming. It's not surprising to me that with alternatives to mega volume, the greatest progression since the 1970s has been in breaststroke and butterfly, with shorter races improving at a faster rate than longer ones. Those are strokes where major technical flaws can be more likely to appear under the pressure of high volume.
So let's celebrate the fact that in 2012, there is a place in the swimming world for more swimmers and training than ever, and that despite all the panic mongering about "THE SUITS", it is likely that several world records will go down this summer.