Toussaint, H. M. (1988). Differences in propelling efficiency between competitive and triathlon swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 22, 409-415.

Propelling efficiency factors of competitive swimmers (N = 6) and triathletes (N = 5) were compared.

There were no differences between the groups in gross efficiency, stroke frequency, or work per stroke. Competitive swimmers were significantly better in distance per stroke and average swimming speed. Competitive swimmers used a much higher proportion of power output to overcome drag and used less energy in moving water backwards. The propelling efficiency of competitive swimmers was vastly superior to that of the triathletes.

Implication. Competitive swimmers distinguish themselves because of greater stroking distance rather than stroking frequency. It was concluded that triathletes should focus their attention on swimming technique rather than ability to do work.

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