Olbrecht, J., Madsen, O., Mader, A., Liesen, H., & Hollmann, W. (1985). Relationship between swimming velocity and lactic concentration during continuous and intermittent training exercises. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 6, 74-77.

The aim of this investigation was to determine if a swimming test, with or without measurement of lactic acid, could be developed for use in adjusting intensity in endurance training.

Top German swimmers (N = 59) performed a two-speed test (V4; constant pace 400 m at 85% best time; 400 m as fast as possible; 20 min inter-trial rest). Lactate was analyzed 1, 3, 5, and 7 min after each trial. Although quite a number of studies have shown that anaerobic threshold (ANT) may be found well above and below 4.0 mM/l lactate, training intensities were expressed as a percentage of swimming velocity at 4 mM. Over a period of 30 days, three different series of tests (total distance 2400 m) were performed.

The two-speed test was included before and after each of the three test series to monitor control of endurance capacity. Lactate samples were taken 1, 3, and 5 min after each set as well as during the 30-s rest periods in the third series.

The following were results from the study:

It was proposed that during a short rest period of 10 sec, considerable regeneration of the creatine phosphate pool occurs. When rest periods are longer (e.g., 30 sec), the energy supply from creatine phosphate is further increased. Thus, with longer rest periods, a higher swimming velocity for a given lactate level is possible.

Implications. This investigation showed the following:

  1. The critical velocities of swimming and lactate levels performed were dependent upon the repetition distance and inter-trial interval.
  2. There was no relationship between lactate levels and velocities obtained from continuous tests (V30 and V60) and interval sets.
  3. A two-speed test to predict V4, the pace that yielded 4 mM lactate, was only related to occasional sets of factors.
  4. If swimming training is aimed at repetitious practice of particular paces, then lactate levels after sets will vary, mostly determined by the length of rest periods and the distance repeated.
  5. If swimming training is aimed at maintaining lactate levels, the swimming velocities of sets will vary, influenced mostly by the length of rest periods and the distance repeated.
  6. Since there are no swimming events which demand maintaining lactate levels, the training option in point #5 is nonsensical.
  7. The two-speed test appears to have little use for predicting swimming training speeds at particular sustained levels of lactic acid because of the influence of repetition distance and inter-trial rest duration.

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