Beidaris, N., Botonis, P., & Platanou, T. (2010). Physiological and performance characteristics of 200 m continuous swimming and 4 x 50 m "broken" swimming with different interval time demands. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study investigated 1) the physiological demands of "broken" swimming (4 x 50 m) with different interval and the physiological demands compared to the continuous method (200 m) during free-style swimming at maximum intensity, and 2) which interval in broken swimming, contributes to the development of higher swimming speed with similar physiological demands to those of continuous swimming. Swimmers (N = 12; ages 14-17 years) with at least five years of training were tested in four conditions: in 200 m continuous and 4 x 50 m intervals of free-style swimming with 5, 10, and 20 seconds between sets. A VO2max test was performed initially. In all sets, oxygen consumption, blood lactate concentration, heart rate, performance time, mean speed, hand frequency, and rating of perceived exertion (Borg scale) were measured.

Significant differences between continuous and "broken" swimming with a 20-second interval were observed in performance, mean speed, and in heart rate. No differences were observed in performance time and in hand-frequency between sets of 50 m with 20-second intervals. However, these factors were significantly different in conditions with shorter interval times (10 and 5 seconds) and in continuous swimming over 200 m.

Implication. Continuous swimming of maximum intensity and "broken" swims with 5 and 10 seconds intervals differ in performance characteristics and physiological responses. Higher intensity and greater performance can be achieved in "broken" swimming compared to continuous swimming, when the interval time is 20 seconds. While swimming performance is improved it occurs without any change in physiological cost or responses. Consequently, 20-second rest intervals allow higher velocity swimming to be practiced without any greater physiological cost (i.e., there is no earlier onset of fatigue). [This study presents the interval between swims in a set that allows race-pace technique and pacing to be practiced with considerable volume.]

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