Lindh, A. M., Peyrebrune, M. C., Ingham, S. A., Bailey, D. M., & Folland, J. P. (2008). Sodium bicarbonate improves swimming performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 29, 519-523.

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The effects of sodium bicarbonate supplementation on 200 m freestyle swimming performance were investigated in elite male swimmers. Ss (N = 9) completed maximal effort swims on three separate occasions: a control trial (C); after ingestion of sodium bicarbonate (300 mg/kg body mass): and after ingestion of a placebo (CaCO3 200 mg/kg body mass). The sodium bicarbonate and placebo agents were packed in gelatine capsules and ingested 90-60 minutes prior to each 200-m swim.

Mean 200-m performance times were significantly faster for the sodium bicarbonate condition than in the control and placebo conditions. Base excess, pH, and blood bicarbonate were all elevated pre-exercise in the sodium bicarbonate treatment compared to the control and placebo trials. Post-200 m blood lactate concentrations were significantly higher following the sodium bicarbonate trial compared to the control and placebo trials.

Implication. Sodium bicarbonate supplementation can improve 200-m freestyle performance time in elite male competitors, most likely by increasing buffering capacity.

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