Reis, J., Alves, F., Vleck, V., Bruno, P., & Millet, G. P. (2009). Correlation between oxygen uptake kinetics in severe intensity swimming and endurance performance. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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This study investigated the relationships between VO2 kinetics parameters within constant load severe intensity swimming, and 400-m swimming performance. National level Portuguese swimmers (N = 14) performed first a discontinuous incremental freestyle test and then two 7-minute constant velocity freestyle swims, in a 50-m pool, over a 10-day period. Tests were separated by at least 24 hours. Cardiorespiratory analysis of expired air was performed in all three tests using a breath by breath analyzer. The discontinuous incremental test comprised 5 x 200-m swims with 30-second rest intervals. Speed was increased by 5-10% for each stage, the last of which was performed at maximal speed (vVO2max). Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) was taken as the highest 30-second VO2 average; the ventilatory threshold (VT) was established by the V-slope method, and the OBLA was determined from fingertip blood lactate concentration (obtained between each 200-m stage in the incremental test). The two 7-minute constant velocity exercise bouts were each performed at ~70% [= VT + 0.70 x (VO2max - VT)]. Performance was taken as official 400-m completion time within a freestyle swimming competition that took place within one month of testing.

The shorter time constant for the primary phase of the VO2 response was significantly correlated with the 400 m race time, absolute VO2max, and vVO2max. None of the other measured VO2 kinetics parameters were significantly correlated with 400 m race time. Performance in the 400 m race was significantly correlated with absolute VO2max (r = -0.70) and speed at both OBLA and ventilatory threshold.

Implication. The shorter time constant for the primary phase of the VO2 response in swimming (but not the amplitude of the slow component) appears to be associated with higher aerobic fitness and performance. This study illustrates just how little physiological measures are related to swimming performance.

Return to Table of Contents for Physiology of Swimming.

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