Sossong, T., & Stager, J. (2014). Ventilatory challenge of swimming and cycling in the development of global respiratory muscle fatigue. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 108.

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This study compared respiratory muscle function following swimming and cycling exercises matched for duration and ventilatory "challenge." Trained swimmers (N = 8) participated in this study. Data collection occurred on four separate occasions. First, in a 25-yard pool, Ss swam 5 x 100-yd, separated by 10-seconds rest at their maximum sustainable intensity. The average 100-yard speed was used during the second session as the pace for a 3-minute swim in an Endless Pool®, as well as for a 400-m swim at event pace. Ss then performed an incremental cycling test in an upright position in order to find the cycling workload that elicited VE similar to what was recorded during the 3-minute swim. Visits three and four were randomized experimental trials: Ss swam or cycled at the pre-determined pace or workload for the time equivalent of a 400-m swimming event. Maximum inspiratory and expiratory mouth pressures were measured before and immediately following experimental trials as indicators of respiratory muscle function.

Average experimental trial-time (400-m event time) was 4:35.4 ± 29.1 seconds. There was a significant interaction between exercise mode and time in maximum inspiratory mouth pressure. The interaction of exercise mode and time in maximum expiratory mouth pressure was not significant.

Implication. Breathing during swimming has a unique effect on the ventilatory musculature, an effect that is not elicited in cycling exercise of an equivalent intensity and duration.

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