Hellard, P., Houel, N., Avalos, M., Nesi, X., Toussaint, J. F., & Hausswirth, C. (2010). Modeling the slow component in elite long distance swimmers at the velocity associated with lactate threshold. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 16–19, 2010.

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It is known that continuous exercise performed at the lactate threshold has the greatest effect upon the body’s oxygen transport system. This type of training enables swimmers to attain maximum oxygen transport by stimulating the slow component of the aerobic kinetics and by reducing the amplitude of the slow component after a period of training (adaptation of this aspect of aerobic kinetics). Training of the slow component appears easier among athletes having a high VO2 at the lactate threshold, which is typical of ultra-endurance athletes.

This study hypothesized that in high-level long-distance swimmers, long interval training at the lactate threshold, would induce a large adaptation in the slow component of aerobic kinetics. Elite male long-distance swimmers (N = 7) performed a 6 x 300 m incremental swimming exercise to exhaustion in order to determine lactate threshold and the velocity associated with it. Additionally, the parameters of kinetics were calculated for the first 500 m of one interval training set (6 x 500 m) using a double exponential model.

All Ss displayed a slow component during the first 500 m of the 6 x 500 m set, indicating that elite long-distance swimmers exhibit exceptionally high levels of peak oxygen uptake and peak swimming velocity at the lactate threshold. All of the swimmers tested exhibited a large amplitude slow component of oxygen uptake.

Implication. The slow component of aerobic kinetics is associated with slow long-distance swimming. Only in open-water swimming is such a capacity likely to be exploited.

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