TRAIN FAST AND SWIMMING FAST WILL IMPROVE
Johansen, L., Jørgensen, S., Kilen, A., Larsson, T. H., Jørgensen, M., Rocha, B., & Nordsborg, N. B. (2010). Increased training intensity and reduced volume for 12 weeks increases maximal swimming speed on a sprint distance in young elite swimmers. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 16–19, 2010.
"Training volumes of elite swimmers consists of 40-70 km pr. week depending on the time of season and competitive level. Given this volume, the average training intensity typically becomes relatively low, compared to the intensity during competition. The training is carried out over a large span of intensities and taxes anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Hence, it is reasonable to conduct both anaerobic and aerobic tests in order to evaluate training effects."
Male (N = 20;~19 years) and female (N = 11; ~18 years) elite swimmers were randomly assigned to an intensity training group (N = 16) or a control group (N = 15). For 12 weeks, the control group continued their normal training of 25-50 km per week including supra-maximal bouts 1-2 times per week. The intensity training group reduced training volume by 50% and performed at least four sets of supra-maximal interval training per week. Before and after the experience, a 5 x 200 m on five minutes progressive step test was performed. For the first four steps speed was controlled and was the same on both occasions. The last level was as fast as possible with an even split. In the pause between repetitions, a fingertip blood sample for the analysis of lactate was obtained. After a break lasting at least three hours, a 100 m time-trial test was performed with split times for each five meters obtained by two trained observers.
A higher maximum swimming speed was observed for the intensity training group when comparing pre- to post-experimental performances on the step test. No differences between groups for any of the split times on the 100 m time-trail were observed. Higher lactate values were observed in the control group after the fourth repetition. No difference in lactate values between groups was noted.
Implication. After 12 weeks of a training intervention that doubled the amount of high intensity training and reduced the training volume by 50%, the ability to reach a high maximal speed over a sprint distance (100 m) without compromising endurance capacity was observed. Since lactate levels were unchanged, the main training effect was probably caused by the greater amounts of specific practice at swimming fast.
In this study, swimming speed improved in the final all-out 200 m swim of the step test in the high-intensity training group. However, a controlled 100 m time-trial yielded no significant improvement. It is possible that the restrictions placed on all individuals' manner of performing a 100 m time-trial obscured any improvement that might have been evident if the task had been unrestricted.
Return to Table of Contents for this issue.