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The aquatic sports competitions held during the Summer Olympic Games include diving, open-water swimming, pool swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo. Elite level performance in each of these sports requires rigorous training and practice to develop the appropriate physiological, biomechanical, artistic, and strategic capabilities specific to each sport. Consequently, the daily training plans of these athletes are quite varied both between and within the sports. Common to all aquatic athletes, however, is that daily training and preparation consumes several hours and involves frequent periods of high-intensity exertion. Nutritional support for this high-level training is a critical element of the preparation of these athletes to ensure the energy and nutrient demands of the training and competition are met. In this paper, we introduce the fundamental physical requirements of these sports and specifically explore the energetics of human locomotion in water. Subsequent papers in this series explore the specific nutritional requirements of each aquatic sport. We hope that such exploration will provide a foundation for future investigation of the roles of optimal nutrition in optimizing performance in the aquatic sports.
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International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2014, 24, 351 -359
© 2014 Human Kinetics, Inc
Pyne is with the Dept. of Sport Physiology, Australian Institute
of Sport, Canberra, Australia. Sharp is with the Dept. of Health
& Human Performance, Ames, IA. Address author correspon-
dence to Rick Sharp at
Physical and Energy Requirements
of Competitive Swimming Events
David B. Pyne
Australian Institute of Sport
Rick L. Sharp
Iowa State University
The aquatic sports competitions held during the summer Olympic Games include diving, open-water swim-
ming, pool swimming, synchronized swimming, and water polo. Elite-level performance in each of these sports
requires rigorous training and practice to develop the appropriate physiological, biomechanical, artistic, and
strategic capabilities specic to each sport. Consequently, the daily training plans of these athletes are quite
varied both between and within the sports. Common to all aquatic athletes, however, is that daily training and
preparation consumes several hours and involves frequent periods of high-intensity exertion. Nutritional sup-
port for this high-level training is a critical element of the preparation of these athletes to ensure the energy
and nutrient demands of the training and competition are met. In this article, we introduce the fundamental
physical requirements of these sports and specically explore the energetics of human locomotion in water.
Subsequent articles in this issue explore the specic nutritional requirements of each aquatic sport. We hope
that such exploration will provide a foundation for future investigation of the roles of optimal nutrition in
optimizing performance in the aquatic sports.
Keywords: economy, power, swimming performance
International competition in aquatic sports is governed by
the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), which
includes the sports of diving, open-water swimming,
swimming, synchronized swimming, and water polo.
Table 1 provides an overview of these sports, including
their energetic characteristics and the nature of the physi-
cal work involved in the various events within each sport.
All of these aquatic sports place exceptional physical
demands on the competitors both in their competitions
and in training. These demands are variable, depending on
the sport, and include size, muscular strength, anaerobic
power, neuromuscular skill and coordination, aesthetic
and artistic quality, and aerobic endurance. The fact that
these sports are performed in water where resistance
to movement is much greater than on land presents
additional challenges to the competitors. In successive
articles in this series (Bernadot et al., 2014; Cox et al.,
2014; Mujika et al., 2014; Robertson et al., 2014; Shaw
et al., 2014b), each aquatic sport is discussed in reference
to how its training and competition demands affect the
nutritional requirements in developing and maintaining
competitive success. Here we primarily examine the
physical requirements of swimming because locomotion
or movement in water is common to all aquatic sports, and
many of these principles help to form the basis for under-
standing nutritional considerations in the aquatic sports.
In international competition, swimming races are
held in each of the competitive strokes including freestyle
(usually front crawl), backstroke, breaststroke, and but-
tery. Freestyle is the most economical of the strokes, fol-
lowed by backstroke, buttery, and breaststroke (Barbosa
et al., 2006). Competitions are held either in short-course
pools (25 m) or long-course pools (50 m). During the
short-course season of international competition, race
distances of 50, 100, and 200 m are held for each of the
four stroke styles. In addition, freestyle events of 400,
800, and 1,500 m are also swum. There are also 200- and
400-m individual medleys in which the participants per-
form all four strokes—buttery, backstroke, breaststroke,
and freestyle, in that order—with each stroke covering
one fourth of the total race distance. Relays include a 4
× 100-m freestyle relay, a 4 × 200-m freestyle relay, and
a 4 × 100-m medley relay in which one member swims
352 Pyne and Sharp
Table 1 Characteristics of the Aquatic Sports Competitions During the Summer Olympics and
World Championships
Sport and Category Events Comments
Pool swimming (women, men; events
held separately for women and men)
Freestyle 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 m
Events from ~20 s to 14.5 min
(men) and ~25 s to 15.5 min
Asymmetrical movement pattern
Backstroke 50, 100, and 200 m
Asymmetrical movement pattern
Buttery 50, 100, and 200 m
Symmetrical movement pattern
Breaststroke 50, 100, and 200 m
Symmetrical movement pattern
Medley (buttery, backstroke, breast-
stroke and freestyle)
200 and 400 m Combination of all 4 strokes
creates unique energetic require-
Relays (most often 4 people of same sex) 4 × 50 freestyle
4 × 50 medley
4 × 100 freestyle
4 × 200 freestyle
4 × 100 medley
4 × 50 mixed freestyle
4 × 50 mixed medley
Mixed relays of 2 women and 2
men held during World Cup com-
Open water swimming (women, men);
typically swum with freestyle
5, 10, and 25 km at World Championships
10 km at Olympic Games
Race duration from ~1 hr (5 km)
to ~6 hr (25 km)
Water polo (women, men); play area
20–30 m long × 10–20 m wide
Game is played as 4 8-min periods with 2-min
rest after Periods 1 and 3 and 5-min rest after
Period 2
Intermittent swimming, treading
water and ball skills similar to
team handball
Diving (women, men); 1-m and 3-m
springboard, 10-m platform, synchronized
diving on 3 m and 10 m
Women perform a round of 5 dives, men a
round of 6 dives
Dive quality scored by a panel of
Synchronized swimming (women); duet
and team at Olympics
World Championships adds solo and free
combination routines.
Elements of dance and gymnastics performed
in water without using bottom. Performances
2–4.5 min maximum length
Performances scored by panel of
Females swim 800 m and males swim 1,500 m at the summer Olympic Games.
50 m is not held at the summer Olympic Games.
Not held at the summer Olympic Games.
backstroke, one swims breaststroke, one swims buttery,
and one swims freestyle, in that order. All events are held
separately for men and women. The women’s Olympic
program does not include the 1,500-m freestyle, and the
men’s Olympic program deletes the 800-m freestyle. The
Olympic program also deletes 50-m races in all strokes
other than freestyle.
The other aquatic disciplines are water polo, diving,
synchronized swimming, and open-water swimming.
Water polo is a popular team sport that requires a well-
developed level of swimming tness; strength and power
to compete successfully in contact situations; technical
skills in catching, passing, and shooting the ball; and
decision-making and team strategies and tactics (Tan
et al., 2009). The energetic demands of water polo can
be characterized as highly intermittent, ranging from
relatively low-intensity activity such as treading water
to sudden bursts of supramaximal power during com-
petition and practice (Pinnington et al., 1988; Smith,
1998). Diving involves jumping from a platform or
springboard, sometimes while performing acrobatic
movements. Divers possess strength, exibility, and high
levels of kinesthetic awareness to correctly execute their
dives (Miller, 1985). Synchronized swimming is more
technique oriented but requires well-developed tness
to undertake the extensive training as well as the physi-
cal demands of competitive routines (Mountjoy, 1999).
Weight management is a key issue to ensure competi-
tors meet aesthetic expectations (Mountjoy, 2014). An
additional physical stress is imposed by the frequent and
relatively long breath-holding times during performances.
The open-water swimming event in the Olympic Games is
Energy Requirements of Competitive Swimming 353
the 10-km swim, but other FINA-governed competitions
such as World Championships have events 5, 10, and 25
km in length. With race durations of approximately 1 hr
to as long as 6 hr, aerobic endurance, fuel availability,
hydration, and swimming economy are primary elements
to develop in training and diet.
Anthropometric Characteristics
of Aquatic Athletes
The anthropometric characteristics of aquatic athletes
vary substantially between and within the various dis-
ciplines and, of course, between genders. Swimmers
are often tall, and there is an emphasis on leanness (to
minimize drag) and muscle strength and power (to pro-
mote propulsion). Male swimmers typically have more
muscle and less body fat than female swimmers. Athletes,
coaches, and strength and conditioning practitioners
should typically expect a twofold greater increase in lean
mass in male swimmers within and between seasons than
in female swimmers (Pyne et al., 2006). Other anthropo-
metric factors such as limb length (arm span) and hand
surface area are considered important. The challenge
for coaches and the swimming scientist is to integrate
selected kinematic, anthropometric, and hydrodynamic
characteristics in individualized training programs that
account for gender, distance, and stroke (Morais et al.,
2012). In diving, male divers are typically taller, heavier,
more mesomorphic, and less endomorphic and have less
body fat than their female counterparts. In addition to
these absolute differences in size, sexual dimorphism
between male and female divers includes differences in
relative size, skinfolds, and somatotype, with implica-
tions for coaching and selection (Carter & Ackland,
1998). In contrast to the other aquatic disciplines that
favor leanness, the anthropometric and physiological
characteristics of water polo players often resemble those
of other team sport athletes, with higher levels of muscle
mass and body fat (Tsekouras et al., 2005). Care must
be taken in anthropometric and morphological testing
of aquatic athletes because different methods can yield
substantially different estimates of body composition and
anthropometric characteristics (Andreoli et al., 2004).
Energetic Requirements
in Competition
Swimming events should be energetically equivalent to
middle-distance track running because of similar dura-
tion of races (e.g., the 100-m swim and 400-m run both
take <60 s, and the 200-m swim and 800-m run both take
<2 min). Thus, swimming athletes require elements of
power, speed, and endurance to reach their performance
potential. These physical elements are energetically sup-
ported with a combination of phosphate energy system,
lactic acid energy system, and aerobic combustion of car-
bohydrate, fat, and protein. However, the fact that swim-
ming is performed in the water poses unique challenges
to understanding the specic physiological demands
placed on these athletes. A fundamental challenge is
the signicantly greater resistance of water than air and
the difculty in applying propulsion in a uid medium.
Because of these constraints, the swimmer’s skill in
reducing water resistance, and in applying propulsive
forces effectively, may be more important in dictating the
physiological and energetic demands of swimming than a
simple kinematic analysis of race duration would reveal.
The range of exercise durations involved in aquatic
sports has led coaches to design training programs that
target specic adaptations to enhance both anaerobic and
aerobic energy provision. Depending on the aquatic sport
and specic event, this objective may be accomplished
using interval training (relied on mostly in competitive
swimming, open-water swimming, and water polo), pro-
longed continuous training at constant speed (open-water
swimming), drills and game simulations (water polo), and
repetitions of components of competition routines (syn-
chronized swimming and diving). All sports also involve
considerable training time in activities to develop neuro-
muscular skill, resistance training for muscular strength
and stability, and sometimes cross-training for developing
general tness, exibility, and weight management.
Energetics of Sprint Events
Aquatic sprint events rely heavily on energy provision
mainly from muscle stores of high-energy phosphates
(adenosine triphosphate, adenosine diphosphate, creatine
phosphate). There is evidence that the capacity, power,
and recovery of this energy system can be modied with
appropriate training (Hirvonen et al., 1987; MacDougall
et al., 1977) and diet (Greenhaff et al., 1993). Conse-
quently, training using repeated supramaximal efforts
is often used in an attempt to create adaptations of this
energy system as a means to enhance muscle’s ability to
reach peak velocities as quickly as possible and maintain
race speeds for the duration of the event. Dietary enhance-
ment of this energy system is largely centered around
increasing the muscle content of creatine phosphate
(creatine supplements). See Derave and Tipton (2014)
for a more complete discussion of these issues.
of Middle-Distance Swimming
In competitive swimming, most of the events are in
the range of about 45 s to 15 min, and all of them are
supported by some combination of phosphate energy,
anaerobic glycolysis, and aerobic combustion of carbohy-
drate, fat, and protein (Capelli et al., 1998). The specic
contributions of these systems depend on both the length
of the race and the intensity of the pace used. Training
adaptations of anaerobic glycolysis may include both
increased power (maximum rate of lactic acid produc-
tion) and capacity (improved muscle-buffering capacity to
minimize pH disturbance in muscle (Sharp et al., 1986).
354 Pyne and Sharp
Diet may also have a favorable impact on these qualities
by ensuring the athlete has adequate glycogen stores at the
start of events and by raising muscle-buffering capacity
with consumption of beta-alanine or other buffering sub-
stances (Derave and Tipton, 2014; Mujika et al., 2014).
Together, training and diet may therefore enhance the
athlete’s ability to both produce and tolerate lactic acid.
Aerobic Power and Endurance
Aerobic power (rate of adenosine triphosphate resynthe-
sis) and capacity (total amount of adenosine triphosphate
resynthesis from available fuels) are developed by the
combined effects of lower intensity, longer duration
training, and diet. Both continuous training and interval
training are common in the swimming community for
this purpose and are effective in developing and maintain-
ing high VO
, high lactate threshold, high oxidative
capacity of muscle, and elevated fuel stores in muscle
(Costill et al., 1991; Sharp, 1993). Diet can promote these
adaptations in a number of ways that are reviewed in a
subsequent article in this series (Derave and Tipton, 2014;
Mujika et al., 2014). It is also important to recognize that
aerobic endurance training may provide an additional
benet in improving the economy of swimming both
at the slower endurance training speeds and possibly at
race speeds. Given the large range of economy among
swimmers of varied performance abilities, factors that
improve their economy may markedly reduce the energy
and fuel requirement of any given speed.
Propulsive Power
and Biomechanics
The 50-m events are the sprint races of competitive
swimming and require athletes to sustain maximal power
output between 20 s and 30 s, depending on which stroke
style is used. Freestyle is the fastest stroke, followed by
buttery, backstroke, and breaststroke in decreasing order
of record speeds. The longest event in pool swimming is
the 1,500-m freestyle, which requires approximately 15
min for the top male swimmers and 16 min for the top
female swimmers and is considered the signature distance
event, even though open-water swimming races include
5 km, 10 km, and 25 km.
To appreciate the physical requirements of sprint
and distance events, it is important to recognize that
swimming performance depends on the balance between
propulsive power generated by the arm and leg actions
of each of the strokes and resistance created by the
drag (water resistance) encountered by the body during
swimming, starting, and turning (Pendergast et al., 2005,
Zamparo et al., 2011). A swimmer must generate propul-
sive power in excess of drag to reach and maintain race
speeds. In all swimming strokes, body velocity uctuates
during the race, with breaststroke producing the largest
intracycle velocity variability given the added drag of
recovering both arms under the water and in drawing
the knees up to prepare for the next propulsive phase of
the stroke cycle. In 1933, Karpovich towed swimmers
while they were in a prone position and demonstrated
that water resistance increases in direct proportion to
velocity squared. Towing swimmers in a prone position
underestimates the sum of all drag forces acting on the
body during full-stroke swimming, so later researchers
have used various means to estimate the magnitude of
active drag (Di Prampero et al., 1974; Hollander et al.,
1986) or used energy cost of swimming as a proxy mea-
sure in place of active drag (Holmér, 1974; Pendergast
et al., 1977).
The amount of power required to overcome active
drag during swimming depends on the stroke style, physi-
cal dimensions of the swimmer, technical prociency of
the swimmer, and swim speed. For this reason, coaches
and swimmers have long regarded resistance training
designed to increase muscle strength and power as
an important component of a comprehensive training
program. Published research has conrmed a close asso-
ciation between maximum power and sprint swimming
performance (Costill et al., 1986; Hawley et al., 1992;
Sharp et al., 1982) as long as power is measured using
limb movement patterns that closely mimic the propulsive
movements in swimming. Consequently, most competi-
tive swimming programs use resistance training as an
adjunct to in-water training.
Energetic Demands of Swimming
At any given velocity of swimming, there is substantial
variability in the amount of drag between individuals
and among the four swimming strokes used in competi-
tion (freestyle or front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke,
and buttery). Between individuals, the variability in
drag seems to be accounted for by differences in body
morphology, the speed of swimming, and the swimmer’s
degree of technical skill. Consequently, energy expendi-
ture varies widely among the four competitive strokes,
and there are large individual differences in energy
expenditure during swimming.
Energetic Demands of the Four Stroke
By measuring oxygen uptake while swimming at stan-
dardized speeds in a swimming ume, Holmér (1974;
Figure 1) showed that energy expenditure during buttery
and breaststroke swimming is approximately twofold
greater than in backstroke or freestyle swimming. These
differences can be attributed to the increase in form drag
during buttery and breaststroke dictated by the mechan-
ics of these strokes.
Other investigators have characterized the energetic
demands of swimming using the energy expenditure (usu-
ally expressed in kilojoules/meter
) required to displace
the body over a given unit of distance and calculated from
measured VO
, change in blood lactate concentration,
and assumed alactic anaerobic contribution (Pendergast
Energy Requirements of Competitive Swimming 355
et al., 2003; Schmidt-Nielsen, 1972). In 1998, Capelli
used indirect calorimetry to evaluate energy expenditure
of elite male swimmers at several submaximal speeds up
to maximal swimming speeds. Energy cost was compared
among the four stroke styles at swimming speeds of
1.5 m/s
, demonstrating that front crawl had the lowest
energy cost (1.23 kJ/m
), followed by backstroke (1.47
), buttery (1.55 kJ/m
), and breaststroke (1.87
). The energy cost increased exponentially with an
increase in swim velocity during freestyle, backstroke,
and buttery, but this change was linear in breaststroke.
With the exception of the relative ranking of breaststroke
and buttery, the economy of the four strokes agrees
with Holmér’s (1974) ndings and was conrmed later
by Barbosa et al. (2006) with 26 male and female elite
swimmers (Figure 2). The lower economy of buttery
Figure 2 — Oxygen uptake at varied swimming speeds predicted from individual regressions of oxygen uptake versus swimming
velocity in 26 competitive swimmers. Adapted from “Evaluation of the Energy Expenditure in Competitive Swimming Strokes,
by T.M. Barbosa, R. Fernandes, K. L. Keskinen, P. Colaco, C. Cordoso, J. Silva, and J. P. Vilas-Boas, 2006, International Journal
of Sports Medicine, 27, p. 896. Copyright 1974 by Georg Thieme Verlag KG. Adapted with permission.
Figure 1 — Oxygen uptake as a function of swimming speed during the four competitive strokes. Adapted from “Energy Cost of
Arm Stroke, Leg Kick, and the Whole Stroke in Competitive Swimming Styles,” by I. Holmér, 1974, European Journal of Applied
Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 33, p. 94. Copyright 1974 by Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. Adapted with permission.
356 Pyne and Sharp
compared with breaststroke observed by Holmér may
have been related to selection of less procient swim-
mers who did not specialize in buttery during training
and competition compared with the elite competitors
tested in the later studies by Capelli and Barbosa et al..
Direct comparisons of energy cost or economy between
these studies within a given stroke style are, however,
often problematic given methodological differences in
ergometry (pool vs. ume), talent levels of swimmers
(elite vs. nonelite competitors), and units of expression
vs. liter/min
vs. milliliter/kilogram/
without reporting body mass).
Interindividual Differences in Energetic
Demands of Swimming
In pioneering studies comparing energy expenditure
among swimmers of varied ability or skill levels, Holmér
(1979, 1972) observed that when swimming at the same
speed and using the same stroke, more accomplished
competitive swimmers had signicantly lower energy
expenditure than noncompetitive swimmers (Figure
3). For example, at a swimming velocity of 0.8 m/s
observed VO
was 4.1 L/min
for the recreational swim-
mer, 2.6 L/min
for the good swimmer, and 2.0 L/min
for the elite swimmer.
In a similar study, energy expenditure was measured
at a velocity of 1.2 m/s
for male and female world-class
swimmers using freestyle (Van Handel et al., 1988). The
women had a mean VO
of 28 ml/kg/min
, and the men
had a mean VO
of 36 ml/kg/min
. Furthermore, the
range of VO
between the most and least economical
swimmers was 15 ml/kg/min
, or from 25 to 40 ml/
while swimming at the same velocity. When
these swimmers’ submaximal VO
(economy) was cor-
related with their best 400-m competitive performance
time, a correlation of .67 was observed. Considering
that these subjects were all elite athletes and likely very
homogeneous with respect to performance, the relatively
high correlation between economy and performance is
impressive. However, VO
was also correlated signi-
cantly with their 400-m performance time, but when the
analysis was conducted separately for men and women,
the correlation between VO
and performance was
not signicant.
Several other studies of the relationship between
swimming economy and performance have indicated that
economy is associated with better performance ability,
especially in middle-distance swimming (Chatard et al.,
1990; Costill et al., 1985; Klentrou & Montpetit, 1991;
Montpetit et al., 1987; Smith et al., 1988). In an elegant
and informative study (Klentrou & Montpetit, 1991),
25 male Canadian swimmers age 17 yr were tested for
both VO
and swimming economy while swimming
in a 25-m pool. VO
measurements were estimated via
backward extrapolation of the oxygen uptake curve
during the rst 20 s of recovery after each swim (2 ×
250-m + 1 × 400-m maximal swim). Economy was
calculated as the VO
required to swim at 1.3 m/s
. Of
the swimmers, 12 regularly trained and competed at the
100-m freestyle distance, and the others specialized in
the 400-m freestyle. The two groups had similar VO
(100 m, M ± SD = 4.76 ± 0.6 L/min
; 400 m, M ± SD =
4.68 ± 0.6 L/min
) and economy at 1.3 m/s
(100 m, M
Figure 3 — Oxygen uptake versus swimming velocity compared between elite, good, and recreational swimmers. Adapted from
“Physiology of Swimming Man,” by I. Holmér, 1979, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 7, p. 95. Copyright 1974 by Wolters
Kluwer Health. Adapted with permission.
Energy Requirements of Competitive Swimming 357
± SD = 3.26 ± 0.5 L/min
; 400 m, M ± SD = 3.38 ± 0.5
). Using a forward stepwise multiple regression
analysis to determine which of several physiological and
anthropometric variables contributed substantially to
performance, the combination of maximal stroking rate,
power, arm span, and height provided the best prediction
of 100-m performance time (r = .84). Performance in
400-m freestyle was best predicted using a combination
of economy, height, and maximal stroke rate (r = .82).
In both regression models, the maximal stroke rate was
negatively related to performance, meaning that slower
stroke rates were associated with better performance.
By inference, therefore, better performance ability was
associated with longer distance per stroke, in agreement
with several other studies (Craig et al., 1985; Toussaint,
1990; Toussaint et al., 1983).
These studies provide evidence that an essential
determinant of swimming performance is the skill with
which the athlete can provide propulsion in the most eco-
nomical manner possible. These ndings also underscore
the notion that energy costs of swimming are largely a
function of the mechanical aspects of both propulsion and
drag reduction. Holmér (1979) noted in 1979 that neither
nor maximum lactate concentration of elite swim-
mers was different from a competitive cohort assessed 10
yr earlier. It appears that the improved performance was
more likely accounted for by “improved technical ability,
stroke mechanics, and other technical factors” (Holmér,
1979, p. 99). His conclusion echoed that of Pendergast
et al. (1977), who suggested that there is a much greater
potential for improvement in technical ability than for
improvement in maximal energy expenditure.
Because water resistance is so great, swimmers
can improve their performance by developing strong
and powerful muscles, applying that power in the most
effective manner with little wasted effort (propelling
efciency; Toussaint, 1990), sustaining that power for the
length of race distance, and reducing body drag through
effective streamlining in the stroke and coming off from
wall push-offs. A swimmer with high body drag, either
because of anthropometric characteristics or related to
drag-producing movements or postures, will have a cor-
respondingly greater propulsive power requirement to
sustain the same speed as the swimmer with a relatively
lower drag.
The aquatic sports discussed in this review have a broad
range of physiological, biomechanical, and energy
requirements for both training and competition. Nutri-
tional support for each activity should be based on the
energy requirements of training and competition and
the possible role that specic nutrients and supplements
might play in developing peak performance. Measure-
ment of energy expenditure in these sports is, however,
difcult given the water environment and the need to
test while participants engage in the specic activity.
This challenge may be part of the reason for the relative
lack of published data on energy and fuel use during
aquatic sports. Energy expenditure during swimming has,
however, been relatively well studied using indirect calo-
rimetry to dene the expected energy cost of swimming
the four competitive strokes between elite and subelite
competitive swimmers.
Methods for energy cost measurements include
collection of expired air during pool swimming, ume
swimming, circular pool swimming, and using a back-
ward extrapolation method with postexercise indirect
calorimetry. Although these methods have provided
evidence of wide-ranging energy costs of swimming,
this information is only marginally useful in the other
aquatic sports because of the activity patterns involved.
It is important to encourage continued investigation into
the energetic and nutrient requirements for all the aquatic
sports to inform the process of developing generalizable
and specic recommendations for nutritional support.
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... For any swimmer to perform a higher training level, an increase in aerobic enzymes, muscle glycogen and the circulating blood volume is required. The combined effects of lower intensity and longer duration training develops aerobic capacity which in turns helps for better swimming performance [4] . Both continuous as well interval training are effective as they maintain high VO2max, high lactate threshold, high oxidative capacity of muscle and elevated fuel stores in muscle [21] . ...
... 3. The study was restricted only to the males. 4. Study was only limited to one stroke. ...
Aim: To study the effect of sport-specific circuit training on shoulder muscle endurance and swim performance in semi-professional freestyle swimmers. Purpose: To determine whether a sport-specific circuit training will improve shoulder muscle endurance and swim performance in semi-professional freestyle swimmers between age 15-25years. Study Design: Randomized control trial. Procedure: Ethical approval was taken from the committee.30 subjects were selected to execute sport-specific circuit training of which 27 subjects completed the study. Approval and written consent was taken from the subjects. Subjects (14 control, 13 experimental) were randomly assigned to control and experimental group. Experimental group completed a 6-week sport-specific circuit training. The outcome measures were 90 0 push-up test and 50m speed test. The outcome measures of both the groups were taken before and after training. Result: The data collected was statistically analysed by paired t-test and un-paired t-test. From the result of the statistics, the endurance and speed of the experimental group (p=0.0001 and p=0.05) was increased significantly. Conclusion: This study concludes that sport-specific circuit training is more effective in improving shoulder muscle endurance and swim performance compared to regular training group in freestyle swimmers.
... Furthermore, in a review article, researchers recognized that micronutrient deficiencies are common in female athletes, particularly for vitamin D, calcium, and iron [12]. However, dietary requirements for swimmers are dependent on swimming style (i.e., freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, or butterfly), competitive distances (i.e., 50-800 m), training requirements, and competition phase/periodization methods [5,16,17]. Moreover, elite-level swimmers undertake high training volume and frequency (up to three sessions per day), supplemented by dry-land training (e.g., resistance and core training, yoga and flexibility training, running), all of which contribute to the development of the athlete's performance [17]. ...
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Monitoring the many aspects that are crucial to an athlete’s performance progress is vital for further training planning and for the development of performance and the sport. We evaluated a four-year change (2018 vs. 2022) in the current nutritional and cardiovascular health status of the most successful elite-level female swimmer in Slovenia. Body composition and dietary intake were assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and a standardized food questionnaire. The concentration of blood lipids, blood pressure, and serum micronutrients (B12, 25(OH)D), potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron) were measured. The four-year comparison showed an improved body composition status (i.e., increased body mass and decreased body fat (percentage and mass), increased lean soft tissue and total bone mineral density (BMD) (i.e., significantly decreased BMD of a left femoral neck and increased BMD of a spine and head)). We also measured an improvement in the cardiovascular health status of some markers (i.e., decreased total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure but increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), most likely due to the differences in assessed dietary intake (i.e., lower carbohydrate intake, higher total and saturated fat intake, and lower sodium intake). Notably, nutrient intakes that are generally of concern (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin B12 and D, calcium, iron, and zinc (except for fiber intake)) were all within recommended ranges. However, the athlete’s vitamin K and potassium intake were not adequate. Furthermore, in 2018, the athlete did not consume dietary supplements, while she now regularly uses several dietary supplements, including EPA and DHA omega-3, vitamin D, multivitamins, carbohydrate powder, and sports drink. Moreover, from the micronutrient serum, only iron levels deviated from the reference values (37 μmol/L vs. 10.7–28.6 μmol/L). The presented screening example using valid, sensitive, and affordable methods and with rapid organizational implementation may be a viable format for regular monitoring.
... Elite swimmers train an average of 2 to 4 hours a day and perform repetitive upper and lower extremity movements at highintensity levels. 14,17,26 As a result, the observed injury patterns are thought to be largely the result of overuse and tend to occur in a training environment rather than in competition. 10,17,22,30 Despite the 12,980 women competing on 560 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming teams and the 9799 men competing on 444 teams during the 2018 to 2019 academic year nationwide, the epidemiology of injury patterns and illnesses that affect elite swimmers and how they affect return to sport is largely uncharacterized. ...
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Background There is limited literature characterizing the incidence, variety, and effects of injuries and illnesses observed in elite swimmers. Purpose To describe the epidemiology of injuries and illnesses affecting elite intercollegiate competitive swimmers. Study Design Descriptive epidemiology study. Methods This retrospective study utilized a deidentified injury and illness database of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I swimmers in the Pacific Coast Conference from the academic years 2016 to 2017 and 2019 to 2020. A health event was defined as an illness or musculoskeletal injury that was identified by an athletic trainer or team physician. Musculoskeletal injuries and nonmusculoskeletal injuries and illnesses were stratified by body location. Injuries were further characterized as career-ending, season-ending, missed time but the athlete returned to sport in the same season, or those that did not cause missed time. Relative risk (RR) was used to compare the percentage of athletes affected between women and men, with statistical significance being defined by a 95% CI not including 1. Results Included were 641 collegiate swimmers (301 male, 340 female). There were 1030 health events among 277 women and 173 men, with 635 (61.7%) occurring in women and 395 (38.3%) in men. There were 540 musculoskeletal injuries reported, most of which involved the shoulder (n = 126; 23.3%), spine (n = 95; 17.6%), foot/ankle/lower leg (n = 81; 15.0%), knee/thigh (n = 67; 12.4%), and hand/wrist/forearm (n = 52; 9.6%). A total of 490 nonmusculoskeletal health events were reported and included events such as respiratory tract infections (n = 119; 24.3%), unspecified medical illness (n = 93; 19.0%), concussions (n = 58; 11.8%), ear infections (n = 25; 5.1%), and gastrointestinal illnesses (n = 24; 4.9%). Compared with male swimmers, female swimmers were at a higher risk of sustaining both musculoskeletal injury (RR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.22-1.83) and nonmusculoskeletal injury/illness (RR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.04-1.68). There were 58 documented concussions, with 8 (13.8%) being season-ending, but not career-ending and 14 (24.1%) being career-ending. Women had a higher rate of concussion (9.1% vs 4.3% for men; RR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.13-3.96). Conclusion This retrospective study identified the most common injuries and illnesses observed among elite collegiate swimmers. Awareness of the incidence and outcome of injuries and illnesses that affect competitive swimmers may allow for more targeted analyses and injury prevention strategies.
... Thus, it can be indicated that 100 m freestyle sprinters maintain the predefined race strategy during lap #1. In lap #2 swimmers may rely more on the energetics they still can use (Pyne & Sharp, 2014). ...
This study aimed to (i) compare the race performance of the swimmers with better performances and poorer performances during all sections of a 100 m freestyle event and (ii) compare stroke kinematics variables between tiers and analyse their stability in each tier. The sample was composed of 88 swimmers that participated in the 100 m Freestyle event at the 2019 LEN European Junior Championships. Speed achieved the largest difference between tiers in section (S) S0-15 m of lap #1 (mean difference = −0.109 s, p < 0.001). During the clean swim and finish phases, the stroke length and stroke index presented significant differences (p < 0.05) between tiers in all sections of the race (stroke frequency did not). Significant variances were noted for both tiers in all variables in both laps. Swimmers in tier #1 were significantly faster than swimmers in tier #2 especially in sections related to the push-off against a solid (block or wall), and finish. A significant variance was noted by both tiers during the race with a moderate-to-high normative stability. Coaches are advised to analyse and understand the swimmers' within-lap stability, which can give deeper details about their swimmers' behaviour during the 100 m free-style race. ARTICLE HISTORY
Objective Parents have an important role in their child’s food routines and eating behaviour and face additional demands when that child is an athlete. Yet little is known about how parents manage providing food for their athletic child, in addition to the wider family, within the context of elite-level youth sport. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixteen parents (mothers = 11; fathers = 5) of elite level adolescent swimmers (i.e., competing at UK national level or above; child mean age = 15.4 years) to explore their experiences of family food routines and eating behaviour. Reflexive Thematic Analysis was used to analyse the data. Results Parents outlined the importance of ‘optimal’ fuelling for their athletic child. Parents had an active role in their child’s eating behaviour and shaping their food choices but expressed uncertainty regarding the volume of food their child should consume and concerns regarding their child’s future relationship with food. Meticulous organisational and logistical strategies were employed to meet the extensive food requirements of their adolescent elite swimmer in the face of intensive training schedules. Such schedules also impacted food routines for the wider family (i.e., fewer family mealtimes), and on the quality of parents’ own diets. Conclusion The findings highlight that clearer guidance is needed for parents of elite adolescent swimmers in relation to quantities of food intake and how to support a positive future relationship with food (specifically during any periods of transition in their training or out of the sport). The findings also identify a novel organisational stressor for parents in elite youth sport, in managing and prioritising their own diet. Further research is needed to explore the extent to which parental diet may be impacted by supporting an adolescent athlete.
This study aims to determine the kinematics of the men's 50 and 100 meter freestyle swimming athletes. Research method uses quantitative descriptive with 50 meter swimmers and 100 meter freestyle men at the 2019 IOAC championship. Instrument used was a Sony Rx-10Mark IV camera placed in the highest stands at a distance of 25 m in a 50-meter pool. Video results analyzed using the Kinovea 0.8.27 software by calculating the SF,SV,SR, and SL. The results showed that the average number of a 50meter had an SF of 13.06,SV of 1.89 m.s-1,SR of 59.08 cycles.min-1, and SL of 1.92 m.cycle-1. The 100 meter number, the average SF value is 11.8 at a distance of 50-meter and 12.08 at 100 meter. In comparison, the SV average is 1.73 m.s-1 at a distance of 50 and 1.72 m.s-1 at a distance of 100-meter. SR the average is 46.35 cycles.min-1 distance of 50 meter and 50, 2 100 m distance. SL the average is 2.25 m.cycle-1 distance of 50-meter and 2.08 distance of 100-meter. Conclusion, are differences in kinematics of swimming between the men's 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle in SV and SR,while those in SF and SL tend to be the same.
Purpose: To analyse the association of seasonal best time, distance and different performance levels with end-spurt behaviour in one swimming season. Methods: Race results in 800 m and 1500 m pool freestyle swimming in the season 2018/2019 including 14,930 races and 2,650 swimmers were obtained. The end-spurt for each race was determined by means of an End-Spurt Indicator (ESI). Subsequently, ESI was used as a dependent variable and influences were analysed using a linear mixed model with fixed effects for seasonal best time, distance, and performance level amongst others. Results: In the 800 m and 1500 m races swimmers showed a mean ESI of 2.08 (95% CI: 2.02 to 2.13) and 3.68 (95% CI: 3.59 to 3.76), respectively. There was a significant association between seasonal best time and ESI, with a better seasonal best time showing a greater ESI (F = 70.5, P < .001, f2 = 0.04). A significant effect on greater ESI was also observed for longer distance (F = 1067.5, P < .001, f2 = 0.06) and higher performance level (F = 91.1, P < .001, f2 = 0.02). Elite swimmers had a mean ESI of 5.47 (95% CI: 4.91 to 6.03), sub-elite swimmers of 3.74 (95% CI: 3.53 to 3.95) and competitive swimmers of 2.41 (95% CI: 2.37 to 2.46). Conclusion: A more pronounced end-spurt is associated with seasonal best time in long-distance pool swimming, higher performance level of the swimmer and longer race distance.
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The aim of this research was to examine the association between motor abilities and achievement in artistic swimmers at the national competition level. Thirty-five junior synchro swimmers (age 16 to 18 years old, height 165.49±3.57cm, and weight of 53±4.23kg) took part in the research. Motor ability evaluation comprised eleven tests for overall and two tests for specific motor abilities. The data analysis was done in SPSS 20.0. The results show a statistically significant association between the predictor system and the criteria (p=.00). The technical execution score was correlated with several physical fitness variables. A multiple regression analysis revealed that push-ups, balance with open eyes, and T2 accounted for a large part (.69%) of the variance in the final score. The results of this research are practically applicable in more qualitative preparation of synchro swimmers and achieving maximal results.
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A successful swimming performance is a multi-factorial accomplishment, resulting from a complex interaction of physical, biomechanical, physiological and psychological factors, all of which are strongly affected by the special medium of water as well as by genetic factors. The nature of competitive swimming is unique, as most of the competitive events last less than four minutes. Yet training regimens have an endurance nature (many hours and many kilometres of swimming every day), which makes it impossible to classify swimming by definitions of aerobic-type or anaerobic-type events, as in track and field sports. Therefore, genetic variants associated with swimming performance are not necessarily related to metabolic pathways, but rather to blood lactate transport (MCT1), muscle functioning (IGF1 axis), muscle damage (IL6) and others. The current paper reviews the main findings on the leading 12 genetic polymorphisms (located in the ACE, ACTN3, AMPD1, BDKRB2, IGF1, IL6, MCT1, MSTN, NOS3, PPARA, PPARGC1A, and VEGFR2 genes) related to swimming performance, while taking into consideration the unique environment of this sport.
We examined the degree to which 200-m and 400-m Individual Medley (IM) performance was related to sprint-, middle- and long-distance events before a swimmer reached a Top-20 world ranking. A retrospective longitudinal modelling study was conducted. Data on Top-20 swimmers between 2010 and 2018 were obtained from publicly available websites. A general linear model was used to examine associations between 200-m and 400-mIM performance (FINA ranking points) and performance in sprint, middle-distance and distance events in the previous two years. In the 200-mIM, there were significant associations (p < 0.001) between prior competition results obtained for both the 200-mIM (r = 0.80; β = 0.543) and 400-m IM (r = 0.70; β = 0.317) events before the Top-20 performance in 200-mIM in the year of the Top-20. Sprint distance events were associated (p < 0.006; r = 0.39; β = 0.088) with 200-mIM (t). Each additional 10 FINA points in the 200-mIM in each of the two years preceding the Top-20 performance. were associated with an increase of 5 FINA points in 200-mIM in in the year of the Top-20 (goodness of fit R 2 = 0.70). There were similar associations (p < 0.001) for a Top 20-FINA 400-mIM performance with both 200-mIM (r = 0.72; β = 0.385) and 400-m IM (r = 0.79; β = 0.492) events in the two years before a swimmer reached the Top-20. Middle-distance events were associated with 400-mIM performance (p < 0.001; r = 0.53; β = 0.163). Each additional 10 FINA points in 400-mIM in in each of the two years preceding the Top-20 performance were associated with an increase of 5 FINA points in in the year that a swimmer reached the Top-20 (goodness of fit R 2 = 0.75). The specificity and complexity of the IM require a thorough preparation in this event for world-class performances. The 200-mIM is more closely related to sprint distance events, whereas middle-distance events support preparations for the 400-mIM.
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Competitive diving involves grace, power, balance, and flexibility, which all require satisfying daily energy and nutrient needs. Divers are short, well muscled and lean, giving them a distinct biomechanical advantage. Although little diving-specific nutrition research on performance and health outcomes exist, there is concern that divers are excessively focused on body weight and composition, which may result in reduced dietary intake to achieve desired physique goals. This will result in low energy availability, which may negatively impact their power-to-weight ratio and health risks. There is increasing evidence that restrictive dietary practices leading to low energy availability also result in micronutrient deficiencies, premature fatigue, frequent injuries, and poor athletic performance. Based on daily training demands, estimated energy requirements for male and female divers are 3500 kcal and 2650 kcal, respectively. Divers should consume a diet that provides 3-8 g/kg/day of carbohydrate, with the higher values accommodating growth and development. Total daily protein intake (1.2 to 1.7 g/kg) should be spread evenly throughout the day in 20 to 30g amounts and timed appropriately following training sessions. Divers should consume nutrient dense foods and fluids and, with medical supervision, certain dietary supplements (i.e. calcium and iron) may be advisable. While sweat loss during indoor training is relatively low, divers should follow appropriate fluid intake strategies to accommodate anticipated sweat losses in hot and humid outdoor settings. A multi-disciplinary sports medicine team should be integral to the daily training environment and suitable foods and fluids should be made available during prolonged practices and competitions.
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The adaptive response to training is determined by the combination of the intensity, volume and frequency of the training. Various periodized approaches to training are used by aquatic sports athletes to achieve performance peaks. Nutritional support to optimize training adaptations should take periodization into consideration, i.e. nutrition should also be periodized to optimally support training and facilitate adaptations. Moreover, other aspects of training, e.g. overload training, tapering and detraining, should be considered when making nutrition recommendations for aquatic athletes. There is evidence, albeit not in aquatic sports, that restricting carbohydrate availability may enhance some training adaptations. More research needs to be performed, particularly in aquatic sports, to determine the optimal strategy for periodizing carbohydrate intake to optimize adaptations. Protein nutrition is an important consideration for optimal training adaptations. Factors other than the total amount of daily protein intake should be considered. For instance, the type of protein, timing and pattern of protein intake and the amount of protein ingested at any one time influence the metabolic response to protein ingestion. Body mass and composition are important for aquatic sport athletes in relation to power-to-mass and for aesthetic reasons. Protein may be particularly important for athletes desiring to maintain muscle while losing body mass. Nutritional supplements, such as beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate may have particular usefulness for aquatic athletes' training adaptation.
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Swimming is a sport that requires considerable training commitment to reach individual performance goals. Nutrition requirements are specific to the macro-cycle, micro-cycle and individual session. Swimmers should ensure suitable energy availability to support training while maintaining long term health. Carbohydrate intake, both over the day and in relation to a workout should be manipulated (3-10g/kg BM/d) according to the fuel demands of training and the varying importance of undertaking these sessions with high carbohydrate availability. Swimmers should aim to consume 0.3g/kg BM of high biological value protein immediately after key sessions and at regular intervals throughout the day to promote tissue adaptation. A mixed diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-dense food choices should be sufficient to meet the micronutrient requirements of most swimmers. Specific dietary supplements may prove beneficial to swimmers in unique situations, but should only be trialled with the support of trained professionals. All swimmers, particularly adolescent and youth swimmers, are encouraged to focus on a well-planned diet to maximise training performance, ensuring sufficient energy availability especially during periods of growth and development. Swimmers are encouraged to avoid rapid weight fluctuations; rather optimal body composition should be achieved over longer periods by modest dietary modifications that improve their food choices. During periods of reduced energy expenditure (taper, injury, off season) swimmers are encouraged to match energy intake to requirement. Swimmers undertaking demanding competition programs should ensure suitable recovery practices are employed to maintain adequate glycogen stores over the entirety of the competition period.
Water polo is an aquatic team sport that requires endurance, strength, power, swimming speed, agility, tactical awareness, and specific technical skills, including ball control. Unlike other team sports, few researchers have examined the nutritional habits of water polo athletes or potential dietary strategies that improve performance in water polo match play. Water polo players are typically well muscled, taller athletes; female players display higher levels of adiposity compared with their male counterparts. Positional differences exist: Center players are heavier and have higher body fat levels compared with perimeter players. Knowledge of the physical differences that exist among water polo players offers the advantage of player identification as well as individualizing nutrition strategies to optimize desired physique goals. Individual dietary counseling is warranted to ensure dietary adequacy, and in cases of physique manipulation. Performance in games and during quality workouts is likely to improve by adopting strategies that promote high carbohydrate availability, although research specific to water polo is lacking. A planned approach incorporating strategies to facilitate muscle glycogen refueling and muscle protein synthesis should be implemented following intensified training sessions and matches, particularly when short recovery times are scheduled. Although sweat losses of water polo players are less than what is reported for land-based athletes, specific knowledge allows for appropriate planning of carbohydrate intake strategies for match play and training. Postgame strategies to manage alcohol intake should be developed with input from the senior player group to minimize the negative consequences on recovery and player welfare.