SWIMMERS' BREATHING PROBLEMS

Kristiansen, E., Stensrud, T., & Stadelmann, K. (2010). Bronchial hyper-responsiveness, physiological, and psychological recovery among adolescent swimmers: a preliminary investigation. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study evaluated if there were any links between breathing problems, and physiological and psychological recovery in adolescent swimmers (M = 15; F = 9). Ss performed one Methacholine challenge and two Eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation (EVH) tests. In addition, the swimmers also completed questionnaires that included scales measuring perfectionism, burnout, recovery, and motivational climate.

At least one positive test result to one of the EVH tests or to the methacholine challenge occurred in 15 of the 24 Ss. When coding the Ss as responsive or not responsive, bronchial hyper-responsiveness correlated significantly with psychological despite the low number of Ss. Bronchial hyper-responsiveness correlated negatively with accomplished recovery (r = -.44), and positively with perfectionism (parental criticism: r = .48).

Implication. The high incidence of bronchial hyper-responsiveness among elite adolescent swimmers is alarmingly high. The authors suggest that breathing problems may lead to underperformance, despite it rarely being mentioned as a physiological marker for overtraining. Parental pressure, massive training load, and unsuccessful recovery are vital issues with applied consequences both for training and competition. More research is needed about this possible (breathing) stress-recovery imbalance in order to identify under-recovery. [This paper does not mention chlorine sensitivity and toxicity as a potential cause for swimmers' breathing problems. Unhealthy responsiveness to chlorine is a factor that could be a major cause of "swimmer's asthma", particularly since pool workers also develop the same symptoms. The pool workers' similar problems rule out many swimmer-only possibilities as the cause of swimmers' bronchial hyper-responsiveness.]

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