Toubekis, A. G., Smilios, I., Bogdanis, G. C., Mavridis, G., & Tokmakidis, S. P. (2006). Effect of different intensities of active recovery on sprint swimming performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 31, 709-716.

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This study investigated the effect of different intensities of active recovery on the performance of repeated sprint swimming. Well-trained swimmers (N = 9) performed eight repetitions of 25 m sprints (8 x 25 m) interspersed with 45-second rest intervals, followed by a 50-m sprint test six minutes later. During the 45 second and 6 minute intervals, Ss either rested passively or swam at intensities corresponding to 50% and 60% of their individual 100 m velocity.

Blood lactate was higher during passive rest compared to both active recovery trials. Plasma ammonia and glycerol concentration were not different between treatments. Mean performance time for the 8 x 25 m sprints was better in the passive condition compared to the active recovery trials. The first 25 m sprint was not different across trials, but performance decreased significantly more after sprint #2 during both active recovery trials compared to the passive recovery trial. Performance time for the 50 m sprint performed six minutes after the 8 x 25 m sprints was not different between the various recovery conditions.

Implication. Recovery at intensities corresponding to 50% and 60% of 100-m velocity during repeated swimming sprints decreases performance. Active recovery reduces blood lactate concentration, but does not affect performance on a 50 m sprint when six minutes of recovery is provided. Passive recovery is advised during short-interval repeated sprint training in well-trained swimmers. [Since most competitions allow swimmers more than six minutes between races, active recovery still appears to be a viable form of recovery. However, at practices where lanes are full of swimmers, passive recovery is virtually forced while swimmers wait for the next formal repetition of swimming within a training set.]

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