D'Acquisto, L. J., Berry, J., Boggs, G., & Mattern, P. (2004). Swimming performance and velocity at OBLA are linked to propelling efficiency. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5), Supplement abstract 1409.

"Maximal aerobic power does not discriminate between faster and slower swimmers . . . rather, talented swimmers are characterized by a greater propelling efficiency . . . and their ability to establish a greater velocity at OBLA (VOBLA)" (p. S201). This study evaluated skill and efficiency at OBLA in trained college male swimmers (N = 14) divided into two equal groups of the fastest seven and slowest seven.

For both groups, VOBLA corresponded to ~67% VO2peak. The faster swimmers were significantly faster at OBLA than the slower group. Stroke rate was similar at OBLA between both groups but the faster group had a significantly greater distance per stroke.

Implication. "The faster swimmers' ability to establish a higher velocity at OBLA was related to their greater propelling efficiency. This suggests that at a given metabolic power demand, the faster swimmers were able to partition more of the total mechanical power output in overcoming drag forces (useful power) and less into giving masses of water a kinetic energy change (wasted power). On a practical note, the faster swimmers had a better "feel" for the water as evidenced by a greater distance per stroke cycle at VOBLA, while maintaining the same stroke rate as their slower counterparts" (p. S201).

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