The critical velocity in swimming

Dekerle, Jeanne, Capelli, C., di Prampero, P. and Zamparo, P. (2008) The critical velocity in swimming European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 10 (2). pp. 165-171. ISSN 1439-6327

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In supra-maximal exercise to exhaustion, the critical velocity (cv) is conventionally calculated from the slope of the distance (d) versus time (t) relationship: d = I + St. I is assumed to be the distance covered at the expense of the anaerobic capacity, S the speed maintained on the basis of the subject’s maximal O2 uptake $$(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{\rm 2max}).$$ This approach is based on two assumptions: (1) the energy cost of locomotion per unit distance (C) is constant and (2) $$\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2\rm{max}}$$ is attained at the onset of exercise. Here we show that cv and the anaerobic distance (d anaer) can be calculated also in swimming, where C increases with the velocity, provided that $$\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2\rm{max}},$$ its on-response, and the C versus v relationship are known. d anaer and cv were calculated from published data on maximal swims for the four strokes over 45.7, 91.4 and 182.9 m, on 20 elite male swimmers (18.9 ± 0.9 years, 75.9 ± 6.4 kg), whose $${\dot{V}}\hbox{O}_{2\rm{max}}$$ and C versus speed relationship were determined, and compared to I and S obtained from the conventional approach. cv was lower than S (4, 16, 7 and 11% in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl) and I (=11.6 m on average in the four strokes) was lower than d anaer. The latter increased with the distance: average, for all strokes: 38.1, 60.6 and 81.3 m over 45.7, 91.4 and 182.9 m. It is concluded that the d versus t relationship should be utilised with some caution when evaluating performance in swimmers.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: swimming; critical velocity
Subjects: C000 Biological and Biomedical Sciences > C600 Sport and Exercise Science
B000 Health Professions > B100 Anatomy Physiology and Pathology > B160 Biomechanics
B000 Health Professions > B100 Anatomy Physiology and Pathology > B120 Physiology
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1007/s00421-007-0569-6
Faculties: Faculty of Education and Sport > Chelsea School
Depositing User: Chelsea editor
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2007
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2015 16:44

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