Plusch, T., O'Brien, J., Whitebay, C., Wright, S., Wygand, J., & Otto, R. M. (June 03, 2010). The effect of three different modes of recovery on lactate removal rate following a maximal effort swim in masters level swimmers. Presentation 2388 at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; June 2-5.

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"During swim competitions, active recovery swimming following the competitive event is often encouraged to hasten recovery prior to subsequent events. Often a single main competition pool precludes the opportunity for active recovery swimming, so alternative activities of active recovery cycling or passive recovery are used."

This study compared the rate of change in blood lactate using active recovery swimming, active recovery cycling, and passive recovery following a maximal effort swim. Masters level swimmers (M = 3; F = 5) completed a 500-m swimming warm-up at moderate pace. After completion of the warm-up, each S completed a 100-m freestyle maximal effort swim, followed by one of three randomly assigned 15-minute recovery trials with blood lactate obtained by finger puncture at 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes post-swim. The three trials consisted of: passive recovery (S sat on the pool deck), active recovery swimming (swim freestyle @ a pace 30 seconds per 100 m slower than the maximum effort), and active recovery cycling (air-braked cycling @ 60% HRR).

There were no differences among the three recovery modes in terms of % lactic acid clearance at 5 and 10 minutes post-swim. However at 15 minutes, the active recovery cycling clearance of 42% was greater than passive recovery (18%), but similar to active recovery swimming (34%).

Implication. Large individual variation in lactate efflux, as well as swim technique may, in part, be responsible for the heterogeneous recovery responses. Improved lactate clearance appears allied with active recovery regardless of the mode of exercise.

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