Stewart, A. M., & Hopkins, W. G. (2000). Consistency of swimming performance within and between competitions. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 997-1001.

The consistency of swimming performance in events within and between two national-level competitions was investigated. Mixed linear modeling was used to analyze official performance times of 149 male and 162 female swimmers at a junior national championship, and of 117 male and 104 female swimmers at an open national championship 20 days later. The performances included all five strokes and competitive distances.

Swimmers were most consistent in their performance for the same event between the two competitions (typical variation between competitions, 1.4%; 95% confidence range of true value, 1.3-1.5%). They were less consistent between distances of a given stroke within each competition (1.7%; 1.5-1.9%) and least consistent between strokes for a given distance (2.7%; 2.3-3.1%). Variation in performance between the longest continuous freestyle distances (400, 800, and 1500 m) in the open competition was half that between widely spaced freestyle distances (50, 200, and 800 m). Faster swimmers were more consistent (1.1%; 0.9-1.4%) for the same event between competitions than slower swimmers (1.5%; 1.3-1.9%).

It was concluded that:

This study demonstrates that some factors in a sport should be emphasized before others. Determining the priority of factors to be stressed is perhaps, a coaching ingredient that will affect coaching effectiveness.

Implication. Training emphases should first stress the form of stroke to be swum in a competition before concentrating on distance-specific training.

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