Re: current or ex swimmers
Dave -- I was more then halfway through my post when I realized you swam at W & L. I coach at WV Wesleyan.
I've actually incorporated CrossFit workouts into our training this year. We do dryland/weights 3x a week -- monday, tuesday, thursday. Monday and Thursday are more traditional weight days but on tuesdays, I've been doing several MetCons from CrossFit. I think the training is very beneficial. It falls under the umbrella of "if you are a better athlete, you will be a better swimmer." I do modify the workouts as I see fit based on our equipment availability and the distance speciality of the swimmer. A couple of my thoughts on some of the exercises that are featured in CrossFit:
Pullups, Pushups, Squats -- I saw an article from awhile back where body-weight training gave better swimming results versus traditional weights. Plus the pullup (palms away), especially if you can do the butterfly kip version, is similar to the stroke mechanics of the butterfly stroke.
Dips -- Strong swimmer = strong triceps, need I say more?
Thrusters -- Think about pushing off the wall/block, the motion here is very similar. Same with wall ball shots
Shoulder Press/Push Press -- strong shoulders are a must for swimmers for in-water strength gains along with injury prevention.
The team has done a "Wet Tabata" which turned out splendidly well. I've done others wet versions (sometimes altered) of other named workouts, along with coming up with my own stuff. Its fun. Swimming isn't necessarily the most exciting sport and doing the combo of swimming and dryland (Wetland as I call it) keeps it interesting for the athletes.
Now am I totally committed to CrossFit as out-of-the water work for swimmers? Not at this point -- we'll see how this year works out. I do think that it is worth exploring more and a viable option for all athletes.