CRITICAL SWIMMING SPEED/VELOCITY A RELATIVELY USELESS CONCEPT

Zacca, R., & Castro, F. (2010). Critical swimming speed obtained by the 200-400 meters model in young swimmers. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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The primary aim of this study was to compare critical swimming speed obtained by the 200-400 m model and an additional 14 models of distances between 50 and 1,500 m in young swimmers. A secondary aim was to compare critical swimming speed obtained by the 200-400 m model and 1,500 m velocity (V1500). Adolescent swimmers of national competitive level (N = 11) performed maximal free-style swimming trials over 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 meters. The critical swimming speed for various models was computed for all the possible combinations of two distances to compose the linear regression equation between distance and time values (two-parameter model). All combined models were compared.

Critical swimming speed obtained by a 50-100 m model was the model that most overestimated critical swimming speed obtained by the 200-400 m model. The lowest error of estimation of critical swimming speed was the critical swimming speed obtained by the 50-400 m model and critical swimming speed obtained by the 100-400 m model. Critical swimming speed obtained by the 200-400 m model overestimated V1500 by 3.5%.

Implication. The calculation of critical swimming speed yields differing results depending on the combination of distances used. In addition, the differences are likely to change during the years that swimmers develop. Because of inter-calculation variation and the overestimation of critical velocity for swimming a 1,500 m race, the concept of critical speed will have little use for the practitioner or researcher.

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