VO2max IS UNRELATED TO 200-m FREESTYLE IN ELITE SWIMMERS
Pedersen, M. T., Kilen, A., Larsson, T. H., Jørgensen, M., Rocha, B., & Nordsborg, N. B. (2010). Increased training intensity and reduced volume for 12 weeks has detrimental effects on swimmers' maximal oxygen uptake. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 16–19, 2010.
Male (N = 20) and female (N = 11) elite swimmers were randomly assigned to an intensity training group (N = 16) and a control group (N = 15). For 12 weeks, the control group carried out their normal training of 25-50 km per week including supra-maximal high intensity bouts 1-2 times per week. Intensity group swimmers reduced their training volume 50% relative to the control group and performed at least four sets per week of supra-maximal interval training. Before and after the training period, oxygen uptake (VO2) was measured during swimming at two different submaximal speeds. That was followed by a test of VO2max using stepwise increments in swimming speed until exhaustion. In addition swimmers performed a set of 5 x 200 m starting every five minutes (1-3 being easy sub-maximal swims; the 4th a hard effort, and the 5th an all out effort).
VO2 was unchanged during submaximal swimming in both groups. For VO2max, there was a significant decrease in the intense training group over the training period but no change in the control group. There were no significant changes in 200 m performance in either group.
Implication. Higher velocities of swimming and reduced training, despite more than a doubling of supra-maximal interval bouts, had a detrimental effect on VO2max but not on swimming economy or performance in 200 m swimming in these elite swimmers. Since VO2max was altered but 200-m performance was not, it is very likely that VO2max is not a good predictor of 200 m freestyle. [This is another instance of a commonly discussed physiological factor being unrelated to performance in elite swimmers.]
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