Rodríguez, F. A., Lätt, E., Jürimäe, J., Mäestu, J., Purge, P., Rämson, R., Haljaste, K., Keskinen, K. L., & Jürimäe, T. (2010). Oxygen uptake kinetics in all-out arm stroke, leg kicking and whole stroke front crawl 100-m swims. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 16–19, 2010.

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This study examined VO2 on-kinetics during all-out 100-m front crawl arm-stroke, leg-kicking, and whole-body swimming. Swimmers (M = 26; F = 10) performed three all-out 100-m swims in random order. Breath-by-breath VO2 values were measured using a swimming mask attached to a portable gas analyzer.

For both genders, VO2 kinetics attained higher amplitudes in the full stroke, followed by the legs, and then the arms. Males reached higher amplitudes in all swims when compared to females. During arms-only and legs-only activities, 81 and 87% (males) and 75 and 89% of VO2 (females) of respective whole-stroke amplitude was attained. This confirms that the aerobic energy release in the active muscle groups involved in arms-only plus legs-only swimming cannot be fully reached during whole-body swimming because of cardiorespiratory limitations. [The overlap of non-exercising muscles could also account for the excessive combined numbers as would alone-actions being different to those exhibited when whole-body swimming.]

Implication. Arms-only and legs-only swimming do not reach the same energy demands as whole-body swimming.

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