Rodacki, A. L., Santos, K. B., Pereira, G., & Bento, P. C. (2013). Fatigue effects on propulsive forces and stroke rate during tethered and front crawl swimming tests. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 534.

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This study determined how propulsive forces and stroke rate changed during a simulated tethered-swim and 200m free-swim at beginning, middle, and end of the tests. Swimmers (N = 21) were assessed for peak force, mean force, impulse, rate of force development, and stroke rate during two minutes of a maximal tethered-swimming test and for a 200m free-swimming race. Forces were measured by a strain gauge attached to a cable fixed at waist level.

Propulsive forces decreased from beginning to the middle while stroke rate decreased at all stages of the tethered-swimming test. Peak force was the only propulsive tethered-swimming parameter positively correlated with free-swimming velocity. Tethered-swimming stroke rate was positively correlated with free-swimming during the middle assessment in the two tasks. Only at the middle assessment was there a relationship between the stroke rate of tethered-swimming and 200m free-swimming. This relationship increased during the first 50m of the free-swimming task and may be explained by the fact that measurements performed at earlier stages of the test may not necessarily represent the whole swimming task (i.e., the entire 200m FS race). These data suggest that a longer tethered-swimming tasks yields data that are modestly related to some parts of a 200 m free-swim.

Implication. Peak force on a tethered-swimming task is the best predictor of free-swimming performance. The fatigue experienced in tethered-swimming does not mirror that which occurs in a 200-m swim.

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