ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Abstract and Figures

Purpose: Although the popularity of open water swimming (OWS) events has significantly increased in the last decades, specific studies regarding performance of elite or age group athletes in these events are scarce. The purpose of this review is to analyse the existing literature on OWS. Methods: Relevant literature was located via computer-generated citations: during August 2016, online computer searches on PubMed and Scopus databases were conducted to locate published research. Results: The number of participants of ultra-endurance swimming events has substantially increased in the last ten years. In elite athletes there is a higher overall competitive level of women compared to men. The body composition of female athletes (different percentage and distribution of fat tissue) shows several advantages (more buoyancy and less drag) in aquatic conditions that determine the small difference between males and females. The main physiological characteristics of open-water swimmers (OW-swimmers) are the ability to swim at high percentage of V̇O2max (80-90%) for many hours. Furthermore, to sustain high velocity for many hours, endurance swimmers need a high propelling efficiency and a low energy cost. Conclusion: Open-water races may be characterized by extreme environmental conditions (water temperature, tides, currents and waves) that have an overall impact on performance influencing tactics and pacing. Future studies are needed to study open-water swimming in both training and competition.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Note. This article will be published in a forthcoming issue of the
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. The
article appears here in its accepted, peer-reviewed form, as it was
provided by the submitting author. It has not been copyedited,
proofread, or formatted by the publisher.
Section: Invited Brief Review
Article Title: Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A
Review
Authors: Roberto Baldassarre1, Marco Bonifazi2, Paola Zamparo3, and Maria Francesca
Piacentini1
Affiliations: 1Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome
Foro Italico, Rome, Italy. 2Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
3Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement, University of Verona, Verona,
Italy.
Journal: International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Acceptance Date: April 11, 2017
©2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2017-0230
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Title: Characteristics and challenges of open-water swimming performance: A review
Submission Type: Review article
Authors: Roberto Baldassarre1, Marco Bonifazi2, Paola Zamparo3, Maria Francesca
Piacentini1.
Affiliations:
1Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome Foro Italico,
Rome, Italy.
2Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
3Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement, University of Verona, Verona,
Italy.
Corresponding author:
Maria Francesca Piacentini
Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences
University of Rome “Foro Italico”
P.za L. De Bosis, 15
00135 Rome, Italy
Phone: +39-0636733245
Fax: +39-0636733330
E-mail: mariafrancesca.piacentini@uniroma4.it
Abstract Word count: 218
Text word count: 4,955
Number of tables: 6
Number of figures: 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Abstract
Purpose: Although the popularity of open water swimming (OWS) events has significantly
increased in the last decades, specific studies regarding performance of elite or age group
athletes in these events are scarce. The purpose of this review is to analyse the existing literature
on OWS. Methods: Relevant literature was located via computer-generated citations: during
August 2016, online computer searches on PubMed and Scopus databases were conducted to
locate published research. Results: The number of participants of ultra-endurance swimming
events has substantially increased in the last ten years. In elite athletes there is a higher overall
competitive level of women compared to men. The body composition of female athletes
(different percentage and distribution of fat tissue) shows several advantages (more buoyancy
and less drag) in aquatic conditions that determine the small difference between males and
females. The main physiological characteristics of open-water swimmers (OW-swimmers) are
the ability to swim at high percentage of V
̇O2max (80-90%) for many hours. Furthermore, to
sustain high velocity for many hours, endurance swimmers need a high propelling efficiency
and a low energy cost. Conclusion: Open-water races may be characterized by extreme
environmental conditions (water temperature, tides, currents and waves) that have an overall
impact on performance influencing tactics and pacing. Future studies are needed to study open-
water swimming in both training and competition.
Keywords: Endurance, Marathon swimming, athletes characteristics.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Introduction
The FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) defines “open-water swimming” any
competition that takes place in rivers, lakes, oceans or water channels.1 Three distances 5, 10
and 25-km (conventional races) are present in World and European championships, while only
the 10-km is an Olympic event. For the conventional races a multi-lap 2,500-m long course is
usually used. Environmental challenges (unpredictable waves, tides and currents), not typically
seen in other aquatic sports, may have an influence on effective distance covered by
swimmers.2
Around the world there are other non-conventional distances, like the “English Channel
Swim” race (34-km), “Catalina Channel” race (32.2-km), “Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli”
(36-km) or “Manhattan Island” race (40-km). All events have seen an increasing number of
participants in the past years. In 2011 Massimo Voltolina swam 78.1-km, the first man ever to
cross the Adriatic Sea from Punta Palascìa (Italy) to Punta Linguetta (Albania), in 23h 44min.3
This is an example of ultra endurance swimming performed in solo conditions. Over the last
decade the popularity of ultra-endurance events has increased, because of the spirit and
challenge of overcoming human limits.4,5 While several studies have focused on ultra running,
ultra triathlon, or ultra cycling, data regarding performance in ultra-swimming are scarce.4,6
Most OWS research has focused on body temperature responses in cold water716, very
few studies have focused on performance analysis46,1719, athlete characteristics4,6,1925,
training programs21,2426 or nutritional strategies2,2730 (Table 1). Very little information exists
on physiological3,3135 or psychological3,36 responses during ultra-swimming events (Table 1).
Therefore, the type of athlete best suited to OWS remains unclear.21
The purpose of this review is to analyse the existing literature on OWS performances
and to review performance trend analysis; physical and physiological characteristics of OW-
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
swimmers; training methods; effects of water temperature on open-water performances and
nutritional strategies during competitions.
Methods
Literature search
For this purpose, online computer searches on PubMed and Scopus databases were
conducted to locate published research, during August 2016. The key words used to locate
relevant studies were: swimming, open-water, ultra-endurance, endurance exercise,
performance, physiology, psychology, training and nutrition. The initial literature search
identified 533 articles.
Screening process and Inclusion criteria
The screening process was conducted using the following method: 1) all articles
obtained were selected by title and duplicates were deleted; 2) some were discarded after
analysing the abstracts as not pertinent; 3) an integral reading of the remaining studies was
conducted, and those that were deemed outside the scope of the current review were excluded.
Criteria for inclusion were: (a) studies published in English; (b) full texts available; (c) studies
involving only human subjects; investigating (d) endurance swimming and (e) open-water
swimming (rivers, lakes, oceans or water channels). The searching and screening process was
conducted by the authors using the same protocol.
A total of 29 studies were selected for analysis (Table 1). Studies were divided in those
investigating conventional races (Olympic, World or European championship distances), non
conventional races (races longer than 25-km) and solo events.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Results
Performance analysis and racing strategy
Conventional races
Three recent studies5,19,22 have analysed the trend of elite races performed during World
Cups, European championships, World championships and Olympic Games.
Data show that swimming speed (SS) of the 10 annual fastest finishers increased
between 2000-2012 in 10-km World Cups races for females, while the SS of the 5 and 25-km
races remained unchanged for both males and females19 (Table 2-3). The unchanged
performances in 5-25-km may be explained by the small number of these races during a single
season. During the Olympic Games (only 10km race), the SS for both males and females
improved until London.5 In Rio the SS of female athletes remained stable while it decreased in
males (https://www.rio2016.com, Table 4).
It has to be specified that comparison of SS in different races, courses and occasions
can be misleading due to different environmental factors (tides, currents and waves), race
structure, water temperature or race strategy. Contrary to other endurance races (i.e. marathon)
where athletes race also for world records or best performances, OW-swimmers prefer to
maintain top positions during the race to control the opponents rather than accomplish new
records.19
Analysis of FINA World Cup races between 2002-2012 show that SS gender
differences remained stable in the 5-km event (7.65±0.6%), decreased in the 10-km event (from
7±0.7% to 1.2±0.3%) and increased in the 25-km event (from 4.7±1.4% to 9.6±1.5%).22
Differences in performance between males and females during the Olympic Games increased
until London (6.3±0.1% in Beijing 2008; 6.6±0.2% in London 2012)5, and decreased in Rio
(3.74±0.98% Rio 2016; https://www.rio2016.com).
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Performance density ([SS of the 10th place (or last place)] [SS of the 1st place])/[SS
of the 1st place] × 100 5,19,22, is a type of analysis that highlights the difference in swimming
speed between the winner and the 10th or last place. Table 5 shows that between the first and
10th finisher performance was more dense for men compared to women in 10-km races5, while
a similar performance density was found in the 5 and 25-km in both males and females.19
Between the first and the last finisher the performance was more dense for women compered
to men in all distances (Table 5).5,19 During the Olympic Games of Rio (2016), a high
performance density was noted between the first and 10th finisher in both males (0.07%) and
females (0.81%), while between the first and the last finisher the performance was more dense
for men (5.27%) compared to women (7.01%) (Table 5). The high performance density
observed in swimming compared to other disciplines, seems to confirm that OWS at the
Olympics is a very tactical event. During the Olympic marathon for example, performance
density was 2.91% and 3.15% between the first and 10th finisher, while 29.18% and 36.18%
between the first and the last finisher for men and women respectively
(https://www.rio2016.com). Confirming that performance is more dense in swimmers
compared to runners at the Olympics.
The higher density observed during the OWS Olympic races can be explained by two
factors: 1) The limited number of participants, in fact only the best 25 athletes in the world
qualify for the Olympic race, compared to the top 50 athletes for the World championships. 2)
The benefits of drafting and different race strategies. Recent research37, identified three
frequent racing tactics: a) the swimmer stays relaxed during the first half of the race in back of
the lead pack, conserving physical and mental energies, increasing speed only at the finish
(Dutch tactic); b) the swimmer maintains a one-body length distance behind the leader
(drafting), increasing speed at finish (Russian tactic); c) the swimmer sets the pace and
direction for field throughout the race while having sufficient speed to hold off everyone at the
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
finish (British tactic). A sheltered position in fact allows the swimmer to control the race and
to save energy for the critical moments (start/end) and decreases significantly the metabolic
cost.38 This qualitative analysis is confirmed by the Rio Olympic results
(https://www.rio2016.com). The split data of the race showed how the medallists adopted a
conservative tactic during the first two laps, increasing speed in the last lap
(https://www.rio2016.com). The lead group was unified until the last buoy at 350-m to the
arrival, and only 5 seconds divided the first from the 10th athlete. However, there are no specific
studies on pacing strategies on elite athletes during open-water competitions.
Non conventional races
The world of OWS includes races longer than 25-km, such as the “Marathon-Swim
Lake Zurich”, “Manhattan Island Swim” and “Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli”, performed
by elite and age group athletes. In the “Marathon-Swim Lake Zurich” (26-km), participation
has increased over the years, while SS remained pretty stable and gender difference
approximately 11% between 1987 and 20116. In the “Manhattan Island Swim” (45.87-km),
participation and performance remained unchanged between 1983 and 2013 17, however the
fastest woman was 57min faster than the fastest man, a difference of 14%.17 In the “Maratona
del Golfo Capri-Napoli” (36-km), the difference between the fastest male and the fastest female
decreased from 39.2% (1955) to 4.7% (2013).23. Pooling together the fastest 3 male and the
fastest 3 female swimmers decreased this difference from 38.2±14.0% (1963) to 6.0±1.0%
(2013).23
The OWS performances have improved over the years while the gap between women
and men has decreased.17,23 Gender differences during OWS are smaller compared to other
endurance or ultra-endurance performances of the same time duration.5,19,22 Body composition
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
of female athletes would confer several advantages in aquatic conditions that contribute to the
small difference between males and females observed in OWS.39
Solo events
Two of the most challenging OWS in solo conditions are the 34-km “English Channel
Swim” between England and France, and the 32.2-km “Catalina Channel Swim” in open
Ocean, between California’s coast and Catalina Island. The solo events are open to anyone and
can be attempted at any time of the year.18 The “English Channel Swim”, “Catalina Channel
Swim” and “Manhattan Island Marathon Swim” races together are called the “Triple Crown of
Open Water Swimming”. The “English Channel Swim” is one of the oldest open-water races
and nowadays represents one of most important ultra-swim races in the world. The first man
to swim across the Channel was Matthew Webb, in 1875, who covered the distance in 21h
45min.4
In a recent study, Knechtle et al.,18 analysed the performances of the “Catalina Channel”
race between 1927 and 2014. The fastest woman ever was 22min faster than the fastest man.
Considering all the years analysed, the annual fastest women were 16min faster than the annual
fastest men, a performance difference of 2.3%. The fastest ever to complete the Triple Crown
of Open Water Swimming was a woman, performing the three races in 70:50 (h:min) within
36 days during July and August 2008.18
Solo performances, did not show an improvement over the years, this might be
explained by the fact that in OWS there has not been technological innovation, wet suits are
not allowed in these events, and in this type of race every athlete competes only for himself (no
drafting) and not against other athletes. The spirit of emulation and the challenge to overcome
human limits has led an increased number of participants each year. It is interesting to note that
the mean age of participants has increased over the years (40 years old).4,18 Most of these events
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
see in fact massive participation of non-professional OW-swimmers, falling in the category of
“Masters athletes”.
Age of peak performance of elite athletes
Establishing the specific age of peak performance could help the coaches to develop long-term
periodization between the Olympic cycles and establish guidelines for talent identification.
The age of peak swimming performances for OW-swimmers of the ten elite fastest
finishers in several international competitions between 2000-2012 was 22.4±1.2 and 24.8±0.9-
yrs for the 5-km, 23.4±0.9 and 28.4±4.8-yrs for the 10-km and 23.7 ± 0.9 and 27.2±1.1-yrs for
the 25-km, for women and men respectively.19,22 The age of peak performance in swimming is
related to the distance. In pool events the peak age increased with decreasing distance, while
in open-water events the peak age increased with increasing distance.6,19,22,40
One explanation for this trend may be the different timing to improve the specific
characteristics of sprint and endurance performances. Moreover, the differences in physical
maturation, training adaptation, aquatic skills and racing experience have an important
influence on the age of peak performance. It seems easier to maintain speed or endurance when
they are trained separately, whereas when they are combined it seems more difficult to keep
both at a high level.40
Physical characteristics of open-water swimmers
The idea of understanding the physical characteristics of OW-swimmers, especially
those who perform in extreme events caught the attention of researchers by the mid 1950’s.20
The data collected during “English Channel” in 1954 showed that the subcutaneous fat of the
swimmers measured averaged twice the thickness found in factory workers.20 The
anthropometric profile of ultra-endurance swimmers is characterized by a large body-weight
in relation to height, causing a better tolerance to cold water.20 Conversely, more recent data
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
report that OW-swimmers are smaller and lighter than pool-swimmers.21 Data regarding the
relationship between anthropometric variables and performance are inconsistent. Knechtle et
al.,24,25 found no relationship between anthropometric variables and performance in master
swimmers, while there are no specific studies on elite athletes.
Physiological and biomechanical characteristics
Most models of athletic endurance performance focus on running and cycling
specifically because there are several physiological data on elite athletes and it is easier to
simulate in laboratory what happens during a competition.41 Maximal oxygen uptake (V
̇O2max),
lactate threshold (LT) and efficiency have all been considered limiting factors of endurance
performance.41
Table 6 shows V
̇O2max values of elite: marathon runners42,43, professional cyclists44,45,
middle-distance swimmers46, and OW-swimmers21,35, measured by different research groups;
these values are comparable to those reported for athletes specialized in endurance events on
land, although swimmers show lower values. However, it is difficult to make a suitable
comparison of V
̇O2max values between swimmers and land athletes for three main reasons: 1)
the lack of standard procedures to estimate V
̇O2max in water; 2) V
̇O2max is difficult to measure
while swimming due to technical constraints imposed by the aquatic environment; 3) there are
few studies attempting to assess V
̇O2max in elite swimmers in real conditions and through direct
measurements 47. Nevertheless, the ability to sustain an elevated percentage of V
̇O2max, rather
than a high V
̇O2max, seems to be the best predictor of performance in endurance events, which
is also true for marathon runners. 31,42
The relationship among the factors determining performance in endurance events (for
cyclic forms of locomotion such as running, cyclic and swimming) was formally described by
di Prampero48 as:
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
vmax = F . V
̇O2max / C Eq. 1
where vmax is the maximal speed attainable during the race, F is the fraction of V
̇O2max that can
be sustained during the race and C is the energy cost of that specific form of locomotion, at
that speed. This equation indicates that larger values of vmax would be attained by swimmers
with larger values of F . V
̇O2max.
As indicated by Eq. 1, larger values of vmax are associated with lower values of C (the
energy expended to cover one-unit distance, at a given speed). The relationship among the
factors determining C in water locomotion (i.e. the energy cost of swimming: CS) can be
formally described as:
CS = WD / (P . O) Eq. 2
where WD is hydrodynamic resistance (drag), P is propelling efficiency and O is overall
efficiency.49 Thus, larger values of P (and O) and lower values of WD (i.e. the biomechanical
determinants of performance in swimming) are associated to lower values of CS and, hence, to
larger values of vmax.
At a given speed, women have a lower CS than men due to their smaller size, higher
fat percentage, more buoyant position and smaller underwater torque32,4850; all factors
affecting hydrodynamic resistance (WD).
Propelling efficiency defines the capability of a swimmer to transform mechanical
power produced by his/her muscles into useful power to move in water (e.g. to overcome drag).
Propelling efficiency (P) increases with training and decreases with fatigue hence, in both
cases, CS is bound to increase and vmax to decrease.49,51
Toussaint and Hollander52 estimated that a 10% increase in propelling efficiency
(technique) resulted in an improvement in performance which was superior to the gains found
when increasing the maximal aerobic or anaerobic power by 10%. Similar findings were
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
reported by Capelli53 who indicates that (in running, cycling and swimming) the changes in
vmax brought about by changes in C (i.e. in swimming by changes in P and/or WD) are far
larger than the changes in vmax that could be obtained by changing maximal aerobic or
anaerobic power of the same amount.
In OWS the efficiency of locomotion, rather than the power output, is the parameter to
be maximized. The onset of fatigue during OWS negatively affects propelling efficiency,
technique and stroke mechanics.35,51 Zamparo et al.,35 evaluated changes in CS, stroke rate (SR)
and stroke length (SL) during 3x400-m performed at increasing speed, with or without a pre-
fatiguing 2-km trial performed at 10-km race pace. The authors noted an increase in CS and
SR due to development of fatigue and a consequent decrease in SL. SL is an index of propelling
efficiency35,54 and thus the deterioration of stroke mechanics in fatigued subjects could be
expected to lead to a progressive increase in CS.35,51,55 By learning to manipulate their SL and
SF, and eventually their arm coordination, swimmers can achieve a given velocity with a lower
CS.51,55
The leg kick influences the kinematics of the arm stroke, modifying SL56,57; as
suggested by Zamparo et al.,50 it is better to use the leg kick as little as possible for stabilizing
the body and improving the propulsion of the upper limbs, rather than for obtaining an increase
in propulsion directly from the action of the legs.
Similar results were reported by De Ioannon et al.,3 who monitored SR, SL and speed
of a master athlete while crossing the Adriatic Sea solo (78.1-km). After the first 3 hours SL
and speed started to decrease while SR increased. Although the swimmer self-selected the
speed to complete the event, several environmental conditions (water temperature, tides,
currents and waves) in addition to other than fatigue, may have affected swimming technique.
The authors suggested that, SL was critical in influencing ultra-endurance swimming
performance similar to what has already been seen in pool events.3
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
The first study on physiological responses during an OWS event was performed by
Pugh and Edholm.20 They estimated that during a 10.5-mile (~16.9-km) race oxygen
consumption was 2.1-2.6 L.min-1 in male endurance swimmers (the authors did not report the
respective maximal values). Dwyer31 estimated, by the relationship V
̇O2/velocity, intensity
during a 71.5-km race to be 72% V
̇O2max for a female swimmer who completed the event in
24:38:24 (h:min:sec) and 95% V
̇O2max for a male swimmer who completed the event in
19:40:00 (h:min:sec).
During a 9 hour open-water race, the heart rate (HR) reserve of one female athlete
remained constant between 81% and 86% until the end of exercise (32.2-km).33 Valenzano et
al.,34 reported the cardiovascular responses during and after an ultra-endurance event (78.1-
km) of a male athlete. The authors observed a wide heterogeneity in the responsiveness of the
cardiovascular system to physical effort and a sustained elevation in HR, following a 16-hr
recovery.34 Considering the different performances and type of athletes, further studies are
needed to understand the cardiovascular responses during ultra-endurance swimming.
Summarizing, the different physiological parameters of OW-swimmers are comparable
to those of athletes competing in different endurance sports. To sustain high swim velocity for
many hours, OW-swimmers should be able to sustain a high percentage of V
̇O2max (80-90%)
for many hours. A good swimmer is able to convert most of his power output in power useful
for propulsion in water and this capability (propelling efficiency) can be easily evaluated by
measuring the swimmer’s SL at a given speed. Technical improvement has more effects on
performance than increase in physiological parameters.
Psychological aspects
The psychological and emotional experiences before and during a competition may
have a significant effect on performance.58
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Baldassarre et al,36 showed how, in a group of elite athletes, the state anxiety levels
were similar before and after a 10-km open-water race and were not different from trait anxiety
measured 10 days before the race. Moreover, the profile mood state (POMS) showed an overall
significant increase in fatigue and decrease in tension after the race.36
One recent case-study has analysed the effect of ultra-endurance distance swimming
(78.1-km solo) on psychological state through rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and changes
in POMS.3 In this case, POMS showed a tremendous increase in fatigue matched by a relative
decrease of tension and vigor. RPE showed a progressive increase reaching the “hard” value at
6 hours from start, “very hard” at 9 hours, and maximal values from 21 hours until the end (23h
44min).3 Most probably, sleep deprivation had a negative impact on performance, increasing
RPE and decreasing mood.3 Training and knowledge about the specific distance in a
competition could have direct effects on psychological and emotional aspects of performance.
However, there is a lack of studies that focus specifically on OWS.
Training in open-water swimming
The impact of different combinations of intensity and duration of endurance training,
to maximize performance and minimize negative outcomes, has been studied and debated for
decades among athletes, coaches, and scientists.59 However, research implications gained from
other endurance activities should not be used as guidelines for physiological responses in
swimming.60
Swimming is a high technical discipline requiring specific movement patterns. Athletes
tend to undergo high swimming volumes to acquire technical mastery and physiological
adaptation. In this review, the three zones model was utilized to quantify the intensity of
exercise in different studies: zone 1 (Z1; light intensity, below the first ventilatory threshold
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
(VT1)), zone 2 (Z2; moderate intensity, between VT1 and the second ventilatory threshold
(VT2)), and zone 3 (Z3; high intensity, above VT2).59
In ultra-endurance swimmers, performance seems to be related more to the swimming
speed during training (intensity) rather than to the volume.24,25 However, these assertions are
based on the training volume of master athletes that train approximately 23-km per week.
Studies on elite OW-swimmers show an average just over-12-km per day during a training
camp.21 During 1 week, athletes reported to swim about 86-km with a intensity distribution of
74±17% Z1, 23±19% Z2 and 3±4% Z3 21 (data were converted from United States swimming
training categories to three training zones cited above).
A female open-water Olympic medal winner trained during the Olympic season a total
of 3,631.9-km, an average of 74.12-km per week, in 454 water training sessions (8 km/session)
with a training intensity distribution of 89% (3237-km) Z1, 10% (348.2-km) Z2 and 1% (46.7-
km) in Z3 (personal communication of the coach).
One study reported the 32-week training period of an ultra endurance swimmer in
preparation of a 78.1-km swim.26 Most of the training was performed in Z1 (64%) while the
remaining was divided between Z2 (28%) and Z3 (8%). On average, the athlete swam 43
km/week, a distance much shorter than the whole event. These data seem to confirm that OW-
swimmers perform the majority of training in Z1, but more time in Z2 and less in Z3 compared
to running or cycling.59
The OWS training programs need high levels of individualization and specialization
compared to traditional endurance training programs. Despite the large amount of research
performed on training of elite endurance athletes of different disciplines, there is a lack of
studies specifically reporting data regarding training of elite endurance OW-swimmers,
considering the diversity of the discipline and the high technical requirement necessary to
succeed.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Water temperature and hypothermia
According to the FINA rules: the water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C and
a maximum of 31°C, and the use of wetsuit is prohibited.1 One of the major risks in some OWS
events is hypothermia, when the core temperature drops below 35 °C.810,14 The individual
ability to develop an adaptation against environmental stress may be the basis of natural
selection in marathon swimmers31, and the bias toward high levels of adipose tissue in early
studies.20
Swimming in cold water
The physiological defences against heat loss in cold environments are peripheral
vasoconstriction of blood and increased metabolic heat production via exercise and shivering
thermogenesis.61
Pugh and Edholm20 suggested that tolerance to cold water is related to the thickness of
the subcutaneous adipose tissue. The increased insulation and the decreased rate of heat loss
appear to be the chief factors enabling OW-swimmers to maintain body temperature in cold
water for a long time. Later studies all supported the theory that higher percentage of fat tissue
may have positive effects in OWS.11,12,16,20,31,62 Different studies21,27,35 reported body fat % of
male (6-10%) and female (18-23%) OW-swimmers, which is higher than endurance athletes
of other disciplines as marathon running, triathlon and cycling.6365
An important physiological defence against hypothermia is shivering.61 Holmér and
Bergh7 reported an increase of 0.5 l.min-1 in V
̇O2 during sub-maximal swimming at the same
intensity in cold water (18°C) compared to swimming in warm water (34°C). An increase of
V
̇O2 levels has been attributed to thermogenesis and the superimposition of shivering on
swimming metabolism.14
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Expert cold water swimmers are able to swim in water temperatures <11°C for a long
time, without suffering from hypothermia.12,16,62 Therefore, acclimatization to cold water is an
important element for these athletes.33 OW-swimmers have a unique combination of fatness
and fitness that allows them to maintain a high level of heat production and retain it below
significant levels of insulation.14 Many other studies should be conducted to explain the effect
of extreme conditions on endurance and ultra-endurance performances. It seems that the trained
and acclimatized swimmers are able to swim in extreme conditions of cold water. Specifically,
when the water temperature is near or below 11°C swimmers with a high quantity of body fat
have some advantage. However below, 16°C water temperature no official races are permitted,
so contemporary OW-swimmers may be leaner than early pioneer OW-swimmers.
Nutritional strategies in competitions
Carbohydrate (CHO) and fat are the main substrates oxidized during, endurance
exercise, whereas fat sources are relatively plentiful, CHO sources are limited.66,67 CHO
feeding will prevent hypoglycaemia, will support high rates of CHO oxidation and increase
endurance capacity compared with placebo.68 Furthermore, subjective fatigue and muscle
glycogen depletion are associated with a decline in the distance per stroke at a given speed in
swimming.35
Similarly to other endurance events of similar duration, OW-swimmers should ingest
30-60 g.h-1 of CHO during a 10-km race and 90 g.h-1 of CHO during a 25-km, while for 5-km,
nutritional support during racing is minimal.2
Zamparo and Bonifazi69 estimated the energy expenditure of the male winner of the
London Olympic 10-km race. The overall energy expenditure was estimated to be
approximately 3132 kcal, based on the average speed of 1.52 m.s-1 that corresponds to CS=0.31
kcal.m-1.70 Assuming an average respiratory exchange ratio (RER) of ~0.85, the contributions
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
of CHO and fats used as a fuel during race are ~49%, (1529 kcal) and ~51% (1604 kcal),
respectively.69 The absolute amounts of CHO and fats used as a fuel during a 10-km race are
hence of 370 g and 170 g respectively.69
Three studies27,29,30 have described energy intakes during an ultra-endurance open-
water race.
The first study reported that female and male master swimmers ingested 199.3±104.1
and 325.2±174.6 kcal.h-1, with a fluid intake of 0.44±0.17 and 0.56±0.22 l.h-1, during a 26.4-
km performance at a speed of 0.78±0.19 m.s-1 and 0.83±0.14 m.s-1.27
The second study29 described the nutritional intake during 7 FINA Grand Prix races
(between 15-88 km) of an elite female swimmer. The CHO and protein intake were 83±5 g·h−1
(~332±20 kcal.h-1) and 12±8 g·h−1 (~48±32 kcal.h-1) respectively, while fat intake was
neglected (~1 g·h−1). Furthermore, caffeine (3.6±1.8 mg·kg-1 per event) and sodium (423±16
mg·h-1) were supplemented, in all events. The total average energy intake was 394±26 kcal.h-
1.29
The third study reported energy intake in a group of 12 elite male OW-swimmers during
an 18-km race covered in 304±44 min.30 The CHO and mineral intake were 30 g.h-1 (~120
kcal.h-1) and 5 g.h-1 respectively. The authors noted an increase of sodium and chloride plasma
concentration and a decrease of the haematocrit.30 This condition might have been due to the
amount and composition of the CHO-mineral solution used during swimming and to the lack
of sweating in cold water.30
These studies reported three different nutritional strategies adopted by different athletes
in different type of events. Furthermore, the frequent changes of environmental conditions have
an overall impact on nutritional strategies. A characteristic of OWS is the possibility to race in
cold water conditions and nutritional strategies need to be adequately reformulated.71 However,
the beneficial effects of CHO-electrolyte provision during prolonged exercise in cold
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
environment are still not clear. The ingestion of a CHO solution did not improve exercise
capacity in cold environment and beverages with CHO concentrations of 15% may result in
gastrointestinal distress.71
Moreover, the swimmers must stop or substantially reduce velocity to feed or drink
during an official race. Feeding strategies that require minimal interruption to swimming speed
may provide a tactical advantage to swimmers especially when the feed zones are positioned
at significant distances off the race line.2
Considering the emerging nature of OWS, very little research is available regarding
nutritional practices.2 It must be noted that most studies are based on findings in runners and
cyclists, the guidelines of OWS are extrapolated from other sports with similar duration and
physiological requirements but alter with vastly different thermoregulatory challenges.
Therefore, it is still to be verified if swimmers can adopt the same nutritional strategies of
runners and cyclists. Future research is necessary to understand nutritional requirements of
OWS according to water temperature.
Conclusion
Despite the number of participants of ultra-endurance swimming events has
substantially increased, after the introduction of the 10-km event in the 2008 Olympic Games
in Beijing, specific studies regarding OWS are still scarce. The major difficulty in OWS
research is to create standardized study conditions, it is not possible to reproduce in controlled
laboratory conditions the situational challenges of an ultra-endurance race.3 Open-water races
may be characterized by extreme environmental conditions that have an overall impact on
performance. OW-swimmers are able to adapt to different environmental conditions and to
their opponent’s race strategy and this event can be considered an open-skill sport compared
to pool swimming.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Although there are several studies on the physical and physiological characteristics of
OW-swimmers, there are few data regarding the physiological responses and the nutritional
strategies during ultra-endurance swimming events in elite athletes.
In this perspective, future studies are needed to study OWS in both training and
competition in order to individualize and maximize performance of these athletes.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Table 1: Summary of studies.
Study
Subjects
Age
Level
Methods
Main Findings
km
Water Temperature (°C)
Cold water responses
Brannigan et al.,9
70M
30W
38.8±12.4M
37.7±11.8W
Master
QU; BMI
Hypothermia is common in OWS and is
more frequent with increasing race time
and less frequent with increasing BMI
19.2
19 to 22
Castro et al.,10
7M
5W
21.0±7.0
Elite
ANT; BF;
CT
Hypothermia is a common phenomenon.
Measurement of core temperature may be
a key concern to physicians during an
OWS
10
21
Holmèr and Bergh,7
3M
16.3±3.21
Well-trained
VO2; CT
Individual responses in heat loss during
exercise in cold water, due to differences in
subcutaneous fat thickness
20 min
50%-V
̇O2max
18-26-34
Knechtle et al.,11
2M
-
-
SS; ANT;
BMI; BF;
SK; HR; SR
The thickness of SK (and not BMI) was
presumably an important factor in OWS
2.2
4.3
Knechtle et al.,12
1M
56
Well-trained
SS; ANT;
BF; BMI;
CT
An experienced ice swimmer with a high
BMI and high BF suffered no hypothermia
during ice swimming
1.6
4.8-3.9
Leclerc et al.,8
13M;
4W
20 to 41
Competitive
ANT; BMI;
BF; CT
Hypothermia is a major medical concern
during the cold water swimming
competitions
40
18.3 to 22.4
Nuckton et al.,15
78M
27W
54.3±10.8
Master
ANT; BF;
BMI; QU
Individuals with a wide variety of ages
and backgrounds are able to swim
recreationally in cold water
46.4±18.8
9.6 to 12.6
Rüst et al.,16
1M
53
Well-trained
ANT; SK;
BF; CT
It is possible to swim for 6 h in water of
9.9°C without signs of hypothermia
15
~9.9
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Study
Subjects
Age
Level
Methods
Main Findings
km
Water Temperature (°C)
Performance analysis
Eichenberger et al.,4
1,078M
455W
-
-
SS; ANT
Participants and finishers at the English
Channel Swim increased. Female ultra-
swimmers are capable of similar
performances as men during ultra-swim
events.
34
14 to 18
Eichenberger et al.,6
348M
174W
-
-
SS; ANT
Participants and finishers at the Marathon
Swim in Lake Zurich increased for both
women and men
26.4
16 to 26
Knechtle et al.,17
551M
237W
-
-
SS
The best women were 12-14% faster than
the best men in a 46-km open-water race
46
~20
Knechtle et al.,18
235M
135W
-
Master
SS
The annual fastest women crossed the
Catalina Channel faster than the annual
fastest men
32.2
15 to 21
Vogt et al.,5
1,548M
1,171W
-
Elite
SS
10-km OWS performances remained stable
for the best elite female and male. The
gender difference in swimming speed of
~7%
10
-
Zingg et al.,19
-
-
Elite
SS
The swimming speed of the 5 and 25-km
races remained unchanged for both males
and females
5-10-25 FINA
World CUP
-
Zingg et al.,22
-
-
Elite
SS
The gender gap will be further reduced in
10 km but it is very unlikely that the gender
gap will be reduced in the 25 km
5-10-25 FINA
World CUP
-
Athletes characteristics
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Study
Subjects
Age
Level
Methods
Main Findings
km
Water Temperature (°C)
Pugh and Edholm,20
3M
41.3±0.58
Competitive
ANT; BF;
CT; VO2
Tolerance of cold water is related to the
thickness of the subcutaneous fat
-
-
VanHeest et al.,21
4M
4W
18.6M
17.8W
Elite
ANT; BF;
BMI; SK;
VO2; BL;
HR; TDT
Open-water swimmers are smaller and
lighter compared to pool-swimmers and
they have ability to perform high volume
aerobic work
-
-
Knechtle et al.,25
15M
40.0±8.2
Master
SS; ANT;
BMI; BF;
SK; TDT
Anthropometry was not related to race
performance, whereas speed in training
showed a moderate association with total
race time, in OWS events
26.4
23
Rüst et al.,23
662M
228W
-
Competitive
SS
The difference between the fastest male
and the fastest female decreased from
39.2% to 4.7%.
36
~22
Physiological and biomechanical characteristics
Dwyer,31
1M
2W
19.0±2.65
Competitive
ANT; BF;
HR; VO2
Open-water swimmers have a high
mechanical efficiency and an ability to
sustain a high percentage of V
̇O2max for
hours
35.9 to 73.1
15.8 to 20.1
Judelson et al.,33
1W
24
Competitive
SS; ANT;
HR; RPE
Training, acclimatization and feedings can
safely maintain elevated exercise
intensities for long durations during OWS
events
32.2
19.1±0.4
Valenzano et al.,34
1 M
48
Well-trained
HR;
Salivary
alpha-
amylase
This is the first study reporting cardiac
autonomic adjustments to an extreme and
challenging OWS
78.1
28 to 30
Zamparo et al.,35
5M
5W
17.8±4.0M
24.2±5.9W
Elite
ANT; BF;
BMI; SL;
SR; VO2;
BL
The development of fatigue affects stroke
mechanics and energy cost of swimming
Pool swim
test
27
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Study
Subjects
Age
Level
Methods
Main Findings
km
Water Temperature (°C)
Psychological aspects
Baldassarre et al.,36
5W
4M
22.2±5.6
Elite
ANT,
POMS, QU,
RPE
State anxiety does not seem to affect
performance in elite open-water
swimmers, despite the different level of
athletes.
10
De Ioannon et al.,3
1M
48
Master
POMS;
RPE; SL;
SR
Mental aspects and physiological
responses affecting extreme OWS
performance
78.1
28 to 30
Nutritional strategies
Bonifazi et al.,30
12M
26.7±9.3
Elite
BS
Atrial natriuretic peptide would appear to
have exerted a modulatory effect on some
fluid regulating hormones
18-km
21
Kumstát et al.,29
1W
28
Elite
ANT; NS
Continuous intake of carbohydrate, sodium
and caffeine were an essential part of the
feeding strategy during elite ultra-
endurance OWS races
15 to 88
14 to 25
Wagner et al.,27
25M
11W
39.7±8.5M
40.0±13.7W
Master
ANT; BF;
BMI; NS
The females had a lower body mass and
higher prevalence for exercise associated
hyponatremia than the males
26.4
~23
Training programs
Piacentini et al.,26
1M
48
Well-trained
TDT
Training intensity to swim 78.1-km
consisted in Z1=64% , Z2= 28% and Z3=
8%
-
-
VanHeest et al.,21
4M
4W
18.6M
17.8W
Elite
ANT; BF;
BMI; SK;
VO2; BL;
HR; TDT
Open-water swimmers have ability to
perform high volume aerobic work
-
-
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Characteristics and Challenges of Open-Water Swimming Performance: A Review
by Baldassarre R, Bonifazi M, Zamparo P, Piacentini MF
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
© 2017 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Study
Subjects
Age
Level
Methods
Main Findings
km
Water Temperature (°C)
ANT, anthropometric measures; BF, % of body fat; BL, blood lactate; BMI, body mass index; BS, blood samples CT, core temperature; HR, heart rate; M, men;
OWS, open-water swimming; POMS, profile of mood states; QU, questionnaires; RPE, rating of perceived exertion; SK, skinfold; SL, stroke length; SR, stroke rate;
SS, swimming speed; TDT, time and distance training; VO2, aerobic capacity; W, women; Z1-2-3, intensity of exercise in zone 1-2-3.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Distance
(km)
Speed
(m.s-1)
Trend
Women
2000
2012
5
1.41±0.05
Stable
10
1.40±0.07
Stable
25
1.27±0.07
Stable
Men
2000
2012
5
1.53±0.06
Stable
10
1.49±0.06
Stable
25
1.4±0.09
Stable
Distance
(km)
Speed
(m.s-1)
Trend
Women
2000
2012
5
1.39±0.05
Stable
10
1.32±0.01
1.59±0.01
Increase
25
1.28±0.02
1.23±0.02
Decrese
Men
2000
2012
5
1.50±0.01
1.48±0.01
Decrese
10
1.49±0.06
Stable
25
1.37±0.09
Stable
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Competition
Velocity
(m.s-1)
References
Women
Men
International
1.34±0.09
1.44±0.10
Vogt et al.,5
Beijing (2008)
1.39±0.00
1.49±0.00
Vogt et al.,5
London (2012)
1.41±0.01
1.51±0.01
Vogt et al.,5
Rio (2016)
1.41±0.02
1.47±0.02
https://www.rio2016.com
International, 47 international 10-km competitions between 2008 and 2012.
Distance
(km)
1-10
1-Last
References
Women
5
1.95±2.10%
18.13±6.54%
Zingg et al.,19,22
10
2.3±3.1%
13.6±5.9%
Vogt et al.,5
25
3.31±3.27%
13.77±6.01%
Zingg et al.,19,22
10 (Rio, 2016)
0.81%
7.01%
https://www.rio2016.com
Men
5
1.83±1.44%
24.21±12.0%
Zingg et al.,19,22
10
1.5±2.4%
16.0±5.0%
Vogt et al.,5
25
3.76±2.97%
16.22±6.51%
Zingg et al.,19,22
10 (Rio, 2016)
0.07%
5.27%
https://www.rio2016.com
1-10, first and the 10th finisher; 1-Last, first and the last finisher.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
Type of athletes
V
̇O2max
L.min-1 (mL. Kg-1.min-1)
References
Middle-distance PS
W 3.53±0.77 (59.80±9.97)
M 5.68±0.79 (71.74±6.09)
Fernandes et al.,46
American OWS
W 5.06±0.57
M 5.51±0.96
VanHeest et al.,21
Italian OWS
W 3.6±0.7 (61.6±13.4)
M 5.2±0.7 (68.0± 6.7)
Zamparo et al.,35
Kalenjin Marathon
Runners
M 3.83±0.36 (64.9±5.8)
Tam et al.,42
Portuguese and French
Marathon Runners
W (61.2±4.8)
M (79.6±6.2)
Billat ey al.,43
Professional Cyclists
W 3.6±0.2 (61.4±3.4)
M 5.21±0.23 (74.8±3.6)
Decroix et al.,44;
De Pauw et al.,45
M, Men; OWS, Open-water swimmers; PS, Pool swimmers; W, Women.
Downloaded by EDIGO Verona on 05/08/17, Volume 0, Article Number 0
... Open water swimming is an endurance discipline that became part of the Olympic programme in 2008, with events ranging from one to five hours duration [1]. The most common race distances for open water events are 5 km, 10 km, and 25 km, although only the 10-km race is held during Olympic Games (OG) [2]. This means that most elite athletes prioritise their preparation for this event in comparison to the 5-km or 25-km distances [3]. ...
... This estimate was made by selecting the annual ten fastest times in world-level races from 2000 to 2012. However, swimming speeds were compared from races where external factors, such as water temperature, currents, race circuit, and even the athletes' strategies, were probably different [2]. The APP has also been calculated in different endurance disciplines such as running [5,6], cycling [7,8] and triathlon [9], as it can be of paramount importance in the correct planning of long-term athlete development programmes [10]. ...
... There is only one previous study in the open water discipline [4], which estimated APP to be considerably lower for males (25.6) and females (23.4) than in the present research. However, Zingg et al. [4] based their calculations on the fastest times per year in 10-km international level races, and it is now well acknowledged that time or velocity comparison can be misleading due to the changing external conditions such as water temperature, currents, and circuit structure between open water races [2]. This is the reason why, in the present study, quadratic regression of APP was performed according to the finishing positions and not swimming velocities. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aims of the present research were to estimate the age of peak performance (APP) and to examine the role of previous experience at the world-level open water race performances. Finishing positions and age of swimmers (639 females and 738 males) in the 10-km events of World Championship (WCH) and Olympic Games (OG) from 2000 to 2019 were obtained from the official results websites. Years of previous experience were computed using the number of previous participations in WCH or OG. APP was estimated using quadratic models of the 10th percentile top race positions and resulted in 28.94 years old for males (R2 = 0.551) and 27.40 years old for females (R2 = 0.613). Regression analysis revealed an improvement of 1.36 or 8.19 finishing positions for each additional year of age or experience, respectively (R2 = 0.157). However, significant differences (p < 0.001) between age and experience showed that the swimmer’s age became less relevant for performance as years of experience increased. These results, in terms of age, are in line with other mass-start disciplines of similar duration (≈2 h) and, in terms of experience, confirm the importance of previous participation in improving tactical decision making during open water races.
... Swimming in open water leads athletes to face environmental challenges not typically present in the pool environment, such as swimming in packs, unpredictable waves and currents, salt water, absence of turns, and exposure to cold water temperatures. 1,2 To prevent hypothermia, the use of a wetsuit is permitted in official competitions when the water temperature is below 20°C in open water 3 and in triathlons up to 1500 m below 22°C in longer distances and below 24.6°C in age-group competitions. 4 A wetsuit is made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber that contains small bubbles of gas that have the primary role of reducing convective heat loss. ...
... Moreover, the reduction of kicking frequency is profitable in both triathlon and open-water races, which require cycling and running after the swimming fraction in triathlon and very intensive finishing strategies in long open-water races. 2,22 Motor coordination, in particular the IdC model, index of synchronization value, timing of kicking, and breathing appeared not to be affected by wetsuit use, indicating that aspects of motor control acting on technique are not related to the suit used. An unchanged effect in kick adjustment by wetsuit use is favorable to athletes during swimming in adverse environmental conditions where waves might change the arm-leg coordination related to the effects of the moving body of water. ...
Purpose: Wetsuits have been shown to change swim biomechanics and, thus, increase performance, but not all athletes are comfortable with their use because of possible modifications in motor coordination. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of wetsuit use on biomechanical, physiological, and perceptual variables. Methods: Eleven national- and international-level triathletes, familiar with wetsuit use, performed 7 × 200-m front crawl at constant preset speed twice, with and without a full wetsuit. The trunk incline (TI) and index of coordination (IdC) were measured stroke by stroke using video analysis. Stroke, breaths, and kick count, and timing (as breathing/kick action per arm-stroke cycle); stroke length (SL); and underwater length were analyzed using inertial-measurement-unit sensors. Heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and swimming comfort were monitored during the task. Results: A lower TI; IdC; number of strokes, kicks, and breaths; HR; and RPE for each 200 m were found in wetsuit compared with swimsuit condition. Higher values of SL and underwater length were found in wetsuit, whereas no differences were found in swimming comfort and timing of kicks and breaths. An increase for swimsuit condition in number of strokes and breaths, HR, and RPE was found during the task compared with the first 200 m. Conclusion: Wetsuit use reduces TI and, thus, drag; increases propelling proficiency; and shows lower fatigability, without modifying motor coordination, compared with swimsuit use at the same speed. The use of a wetsuit during training sessions is recommended to increase comfort and the positive effects on performance.
... Within endurance sports, we find open water swimming (OWS), which has experienced a surge in both competitive tests and participants in the last few decades [5]. Since the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, the OWS modality was incorporated into swimming competitions. ...
... Olympic distance in OWS is called "Marathon" of 10 km, and international competitions include distances of 5, 10, and 25 km [6]. This discipline creates unique physiological challenges for thermoregulation and muscle fuel reserves, due to the water temperature and the duration of some competitions, which can reach 5 or 6 h [5]. These high physiological demands, as well as the possibility that any small gain could result in an improvement in performance and competition, encourages athletes to consider the use of different tools and/or strategies, among which we find the use of sports supplements [7]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Sports supplements (SS) are widely consumed by many types of athletes to improve their performance. These SS are classified according to their level of scientific evidence, by the ABCD system from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). In open water swimming, their use may be necessary due to the physiological challenges posed by this sport discipline. However, there is currently little literature on the use of SS in open water swimmers. The aim of this work is to analyze the pattern of consumption of SS by open water swimmers, by studying the differences according to the competitive level (regional vs. national). Methods: Descriptive and cross-sectional study on the consumption and use of SS by federated open water swimmers in Spain in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 seasons. The data were collected through a validated questionnaire. Results: 79.5% of the participants consumed SS, with significant differences according to their level, being higher in athletes at the national level. The most-consumed SS by the swimmers studied were sports drinks, energy bars, caffeine, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Conclusions: It was observed that the consumption of SS in open water swimmers was high, and of the five most-consumed SS, four of them belonged to the category of greatest scientific evidence.
... This can be explained by the different anthropometric parameters of body fat percentage and distribution in women compared to men. The higher body fat percentage and unalike distribution of fat resulted in more buoyancy and fewer drag forces in female long-distance open water swimming compared to men 40,41 . However, this does not account for smaller distances in cold water, as the results of this study showed. ...
... A limitation of the present study is that in addition to the 25 m sprint distance races, the 50 m and 100 m distance races were not included. Furthermore, not all environmental conditions (e.g., currents, wind, waves) were considered except for the water temperature, although they can affect the performance 40 . Lastly, the percentage of local athletes per event was not considered, giving a more detailed interpretation of the participation trends. ...
Article
Objective: Winter swimming is a new sport discipline. Very little is known, however, about the sex differences, origin, participation and performance of the world's best winter swimmers. Therefore, the study aimed to investigate sex differences in performance and age. Furthermore, it should be determined which country has the fastest swimmers, the highest numbers of participants and the most successful age group athletes in winter swimming. Subjects and methods: A total of 6,477 results from the 25 m events of the IWSA (International Winter Swimming Association) World Cups from 2016-2020 was collected from the official website of IWSA. Data were analyzed using a generalized linear model (GLM) with a gamma probability distribution and identity link function. The 25 m events were carried out in head-up breaststroke style, freestyle and butterfly. The nationalities were grouped into six groups, the five nationalities with the highest number of participants in the 25 m competitions and one group with the other nationalities. The mean time of 25 m races by sex and country of the total sample was compared. For the top 10 comparisons, the best ten athletes from the six groups were selected. The mean time of each top 10 groups was compared by sex and nationality. Results: Men were faster than women for all categories. Swimmers in age group 15-29 years were the fastest, where females were the fastest in age group 15-19 years and males in age group 20-29 years. Women from both Russia and Estonia and men from both Russia and China were the fastest. Both Russian and Chinese males were the fastest in all water categories in the top 10 section in the 25 m events. Conclusions: In summary, males were faster than females in the IWSA World Cups between 2016 and 2020. The age group of 15-29 years old athletes was the most successful while females had their age of peak performance earlier than males. Russian and Estonian males and Russian females were the overall fastest in the 25 m events in all water categories. Future studies should investigate the optimal anthropometric characteristics of male and female winter swimming sprint athletes and whether there are distinct areas in Russia, Estonia and China, where many international winter swimming athletes originate.
... In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people participating in open water swimming (OWS) events, including ultra-marathon swim or long distance races. 1 These events may be classified as any swimming event that exceeds 10 km (6.2 miles). An ultra-marathon swim occurs in any open water environment and can consist of laps of a predesignated course (e.g. six laps of a 2.5 km circuit) or a point-to-point swim; such an event may require dedicated support crew in a boat and/or kayak. ...
... < 18°C), higher percentages of body fat are considered protective against hypothermia and important for successful completion. 1 As such, in the months leading up to an event, swimmers often adopt high energy diets intended to increase body fat. Despite this, there is limited published data on the body composition of master's swimmers and body mass index (BMI). ...
Article
Full-text available
Open water swimming ultra-marathon events ≥10 km have become increasingly popular amongst master athletes. However, very little is known about the timing of training sessions and the impact on sleep. This study aimed to examine sleep behaviours, sleep problems and disorders and the relationship with training timings. This study used a longitudinal observational design for 42 nights with 24 masters' swimmers (n = 13 females), aged 39 ± 11 years, body mass index of 26 ± 3 kg/m ² during a training squad for an ocean ultra-swim (19.7 km) in Western Australia. Objective measures of sleep were obtained from a wrist-activity monitor, the Readiband™ (Fatigue Science Inc., Canada). Swimmers completed a survey instrument related to sleep problems, disorders, chronotype, anthropometric and demographic information. Generalised linear mixed models were fitted to examine relationships between predictor variables and sleep responses. Body mass index was associated with a decline in Total Sleep Time (TST), each one-unit increase in BMI was associated with 5 min less TST (p = 0.04). Swimmers with a “high risk” of sleep apnea had 21 min more wake time (p = 0.04) and 5% lower Sleep Efficiency (p = 0.04). Sleep Offset on the morning of a morning training session was earlier by 48 min (p < 0.001) resulting in less TST by 39 min (p < 0.001). This study provides evidence that coaches need to consider sleep behaviours and problems before designing training schedules. Swimmers need to plan and allocate an adequate sleep opportunity and those who have a suspected sleep disorder or problem should seek the support of a sleep physician.
... One such group is ultra-marathon swimmers participating in ultra-marathon or long-distance races >10 km. 3 In a previous study, 4 we reported that these swimmers consistently sleep <7 hours per night despite this age group requiring 7-9 hours of total sleep per night, 5 have a high risk of sleep apnoea and have less total sleep time (TST) the night before an early morning training sessions twice a week (<06:00). 4 Poor sleep outcomes in this population may reflect the impact of family, work, study and social commitments, which in addition to athletic training, may leave little opportunity for sleep. ...
Article
Full-text available
Sleep for recovery is an essential factor for performance in athletes. One such group is recreational ultra-marathon swimmers (>10km). We aimed to compare measures of sleep before and after a sleep hygiene education intervention during a 16-week training programme. Using a prospective study design, the experiment was conducted in two phases (pre- and post-intervention), whereby pre- and post-intervention data were collected for 42 nights after the sleep hygiene education. This study had 24 masters’ swimmers (n = 13 females), aged 39 ± 11 years, and body mass index (BMI) of 26 ± 3 kg/m ² during a training squad for an ocean ultra-marathon swimmer (19.7 km) in Perth, Western Australia. Objective measures of sleep were obtained from a wrist activity monitor, the Readiband™ (Fatigue Science Inc., Canada). Participants underwent a 2-hour sleep hygiene education session. Generalised linear mixed models were fitted to examine relationships between predictor variables and sleep responses. Sleep onset and offset increased by 12 minutes post-intervention ( p < 0.001). For nights before morning training, sleep onset increased by 12 minutes and offset by 24 minutes post-intervention. Females increased sleep onset by 18 minutes and delayed sleep offset by 12 minutes sleep ( p < 0.05) post-intervention. The sleep hygiene education was insufficient in making meaningful improvements to measures of sleep. Individual sleep hygiene education and continuous reinforcement of sleep for recovery during a training programme may be required to observe improvements. Coaches should aim to design training schedules to minimise the impact on swimmer’s sleep opportunity and swimmers need to involve family in the planning of rest periods during a training programme.
... This study was not intended to elucidate the influence of stroke mechanics or fluid dynamics on the 457-m swim performance. However, investigating these variables could be particularly advantageous for the study of open water swimmers, triathletes, and military personnel since changes in velocity and fluid dynamics of a flume would simulate waves in open water conditions or close opponents during competition [7,48,49]. ...
Article
Full-text available
A mode-specific swimming protocol to assess maximal aerobic uptake (VO2maxsw) is vital to accurately evaluate swimming performance. A need exists for reliable and valid swimming protocols that assess VO2maxsw in a flume environment. The purpose was to assess: (a) reliability and (b) “performance” validity of a VO2maxsw flume protocol using the 457-m freestyle pool performance swim (PS) test as the criterion. Nineteen males (n = 9) and females (n = 10) (age, 28.5 ± 8.3 years.; height, 174.7 ± 8.2 cm; mass, 72.9 ± 12.5 kg; %body fat, 21.4 ± 5.9) performed two flume VO2maxsw tests (VO2maxswA and VO2maxswB) and one PS test [457 m (469.4 ± 94.7 s)]. For test–retest reliability (Trials A vs. B), moderately strong relationships were established for VO2maxsw (mL·kg−1·min−1)(r= 0.628, p = 0.002), O2pulse (mL O2·beat−1)(r = 0.502, p = 0.014), VEmax (L·min−1) (r = 0.671, p = 0.001), final test time (sec) (0.608, p = 0.004), and immediate post-test blood lactate (IPE (BLa)) (0.716, p = 0.001). For performance validity, moderately strong relationships (p < 0.05) were found between VO2maxswA (r =−0.648, p = 0.005), O2pulse (r= −0.623, p = 0.008), VEmax (r = −0.509 p = 0.037), and 457-m swim times. The swimming flume protocol examined is a reliable and valid assessment of VO2maxsw., and offers an alternative for military, open water, or those seeking complementary forms of training to improve swimming performance.
... The reduction in drag force yield decreases in C, in addition to that higher swimming speeds can be sustained with elevated propelling efficiency and low hydrodynamic drag (i.e., low C) [46], as observed while using wetsuits. Indeed, lower passive drag and C were found in triathletes while swimming with a full-body wetsuit vs. swimsuit [9]. ...
Article
Full-text available
This systematic review aims to summarize the effects of wearing different types of wetsuits and swimsuits in front crawl swimming performance and physiological- and biomechanical-related variables. The Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus and the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming databases were searched from inception to 25th March 2022. From the 1398 studies initially found, 26 studies were included in the review. The quality assessment and inter-rater reliability between researchers were conducted. The full body was the most studied wetsuit, with its use allowing 3.2–12.9% velocity increments in distances ranging from 25 to 1500 m, in incremental tests, in 5 and 30 min continuous swimming and in open water events. The sleeveless long vs. the full-body wetsuit led to a 400–800 m performance enhancement. Higher stroke rate, stroke length and stroke index were observed while using three different covered body part wetsuits vs. a regular swimsuit, with a lower energy cost being observed when swimming with the full-body wetsuit compared to a swimsuit. These findings provide useful information for coaches, swimmers and triathletes about the full-body and sleeveless long/short wetsuit use, since these three wetsuits allow improving swimming performance in different distances in diverse aquatic environments.
... Nevertheless, for military personnel, rescue personnel, and triathletes, swimming in open water environments is common. The presence of currents, tides, and waves will significantly affect the human swimming performance [38]. One characteristic research comes from Beaumont et al. [39], who carried out preliminary investigation on open-water swimming through CFD simulations, with particular attention to the fluid resistances applied to the swimmer at different positions in the presence of currents. ...
Article
Full-text available
Swimming is a kind of complex locomotion that involves the interaction between the human body and the water. Here, to examine the effects of currents on the performance of freestyle and breaststroke swimming, a multi-body Newton-Euler dynamic model of human swimming is developed. The model consists of 18 rigid segments, whose shapes and geometries are determined based on the measured data from 3D scanning, and the fluid drags in consideration of the current are modeled. By establishing the interrelations between the fluid moments and the swimming kinematics, the underlying mechanism that triggers the turning of the human body is uncovered. Through systematic parametric analyses, the effects of currents on swimming performance (including the human body orientation, swimming direction, swimming speed, and propulsive efficiency) are elucidated. It reveals that the current would turn the human body counterclockwise in freestyle swimming, while clockwise in breaststroke swimming (which means that from the top view, the human trunk, i.e., the vector pointing from the bottom of feet to the top of the head, rotates counterclockwise or clockwise). Moreover, for both strokes, there exists a critical current condition, beyond which, the absolute swimming direction will be reversed. This work provides a wealth of fundamental insights into the swimming dynamics in the presence of currents, and the proposed modeling and analysis framework is promising to be used for analyzing the human swimming behavior in open water.
Article
Advanced clinical practitioner (ACP) roles require a broad range of knowledge of both medical and surgical areas and the ability to work autonomously in a variety of settings. Despite around half of the UK adult population presenting with a skin condition requiring attention at some point, this is an area many ACPs feel unprepared to manage. However, due to the complexity and large number of potential diagnoses, it is imperative that ACPs develop their knowledge of skin conditions so that they can confidently conduct consultations with patients. This clinical review presents the key elements of patient consultation, history taking and assessment of the skin. This is designed to support novice ACPs, whether working in acute hospital settings or primary care, to develop an understanding of the key points that should be included when consulting with and assessing the skin of patients outwith the dermatology setting.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: to analyze the effects of swimming pace on the relative contribution of leg kick to swimming speed, and to compare arm stroke efficiency (ηf) assessed when swimming with the arms only (SAO) and while swimming front crawl (FCS) using individual and fixed adjustments to arm stroke and leg kick contribution to forward speed. Methods: twenty-nine master swimmers (21 males, 8 females) performed SAO and FCS at six self-selected speeds from very slow to maximal speed. The average swimming speed (v), stroke frequency (SF),stroke length (SL) were assessed in the central 10 m of the swimming pool. Then, a second-order polynomial regression was used to obtain values of v at paired SF. The percentage difference in v between FCS and SAO, for each paired SF, was used to calculate the relative contributions of the arm stroke (AC) and leg kick (LC) to FCS. Then ηf was calculated using the indirect "paddle-wheel" approach in three different ways: using general, individual, and no adjustments to AC. Results: the LC increased with SF (and speed) from -1±4% to 11±1% (p<0.05). At the lower FCS speeds, ηf calculated using general adjustments was lower than ηF calculated using individual adjustments (p<0.05) but differences disappear at the fastest speeds. Last but not least, ηf calculated using individual adjustments to the leg kick contribution in the FCS condition did not differ with ηf assessed in the SAO condition at all the investigated speeds. Conclusions: the relative contributions of the arm stroke and leg kick should be individually estimated to reduce errors when calculating arm stroke efficiency at different speeds and different swimmers.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the present review paper was to identify the potential mediator and moderator variables involved in the recommendation of which types (functions) of imagery are the greatest use to the performer. The current review has proven that the efficacy in using imagery as a mediator of the relationship between imagery ability and cognitive imagery use. Particularly, it has been consistently found that athletes who use motivational general-mastery (MG-M) imagery report higher levels of both self-confidence and self-efficacy. As moderator variables, the reviewed studies have revealed that the stage of skill learning has a differential effect on the type of imagery used by athletes. Firstly, in the early stages of skill acquisition, novices may use imagery primarily for its cognitive specific (CS) function to assist in the organization of information (about the skill or strategy to be learnt). Secondly, in the autonomous stage of learning, athletes reported their use of imagery for MG-M function. Typically, MG-M imagery is mostly used in competition and CS imagery is mostly in practice, with motivational specific (MS) and motivational general-arousal (MG-A) imagery the least used in both these settings. However, the present review also showed that athletes at higher competitive levels used all five functions of imagery to a greater extent in both training and competition than do athletes at lower levels. In addition, this review indicated that athletes in closed-skill sports use more cognitive imagery functions [CS and cognitive general (CG)] than athletes in open-skill sports. While, athletes in open-skilled sports used significantly more MG-A imagery than those in closed-skill sports. It has also been shown that CG imagery is used more in such team sports (i.e., soccer) to build or maintain confidence and self-efficacy, and the CS imagery is used to improve sport performance (i.e., passing, dribbling). In conclusion, the data obtained in the present review have shown that self-efficacy as factors that may facilitate the effectiveness of imagery use by athletes. Thus, athletes report using imagery for all five functions (CG, CS, MG-A, MG-M, and MS imagery), MG-M and CS imagery are typically the most frequently employed. Whereas, MG-M and CG functions used to build or maintain confidence and self-efficacy, and CS function used to improve skill learning and sport performance. From an applied perspective, sport psychologists and fitness trainers can be implemented mental imagery training according to their athlete levels, types of skills, the intended outcome for the imagery use, phase of learning, and sport situations.
Article
Full-text available
The nutritional intake of elite open water swimmers during competition is not well established, and therefore this case study aims to provide new insights by describing the feeding strategies adopted by an elite female swimmer (28 yrs; height; 1.71 m; body mass: 60 kg; body fat: 16.0 %) in the FINA open water Grand Prix 2014.Seven events of varying distances (15 - 88 km) and durations (3-12 hrs) were included. In all events, except one, feeds were provided from support boats. Swimmer and support staff were instructed to track in detail all foods and beverages consumed during the events. Nutritional information was gathered from the packaging and dietary supplements labels and analyzed by nutrition software. Mean carbohydrate (CHO) and protein intake reached 83 ± 5 g·h-1 and 12 ± 8 g·h-1, respectively. Fat intake was neglected (~ 1 g·h-1). Mean in-race energy intake reached 394 ± 26 kcal·h-1. Dietary supplements in the form of sport beverages and gels, containing multitransportable CHO, provided 40 ± 4 and 49 ± 6 % of all CHO energy, respectively. Caffeine (3.6 ± 1.8 mg·kg-1 per event) and sodium (423 ± 16 mg·h-1) were additionally supplemented in all events. It was established that continuous intake of high doses of CHO and sodium and moderate dose of caffeine were an essential part of the feeding strategy for elite-level high intensity ultra-endurance open-water swimming races. A well scheduled and well-prepared nutrition strategy is believed to have ensured optimal individual performance during Grand Prix events.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: The primary purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of participation in a 3-day multistage ultraendurance triathlon (stage 1 = 10 km swim, 144.8 km bike; stage 2 = 275.4 km bike; stage 3 = 84.4 km run) on body mass and composition, hydration status, hormones, muscle damage, and blood glucose. Methods: Eighteen triathletes (mean ± SD; age 41 ± 7.5 years; height 175 ± 9 cm; weight 73.5 ± 9.8 kg; male n = 14, female n = 4) were assessed before and after each stage of the race. Body mass and composition were measured via bioelectrical impedance, hydration status via urine specific gravity, hormones and muscle damage via venous blood draw, and blood glucose via fingerstick. Results: Following the race, significant changes included reductions in body mass (qualified effect size: trivial), fat mass (moderate), and percent body fat (small); increases in percent total body water (moderate) and urine specific gravity (large); and unchanged absolute total body water and fat-free mass. There were also extremely large increases in creatine kinase, C-reactive protein, aldosterone and cortisol combined with reductions in testosterone (small) and the testosterone:cortisol ratio (moderate). There were associations between post-race aldosterone and total body water (r = -0.504) and changes in cortisol and fat-free mass (r = -0.536). Finally, blood glucose increased in a stepwise manner prior to each stage. Conclusions: Participation in Ultraman Florida leads to fluid retention and dramatic alterations in body composition, muscle health, hormones, and metabolism.
Article
Full-text available
'Ice Mile' swimming is a new discipline in open-water swimming introduced in 2009. This case study investigated changes in body core temperature during preparation for and completion of two official 'Ice Miles', defined as swimming 1.609 km in water of 5°C or colder, in one swimmer. One experienced ice swimmer (56 years old, 110.2 kg body mass, 1.76 m body height, BMI of 35.6 kg/m(2), 44.8% body fat) recorded data including time, distance and body core temperature from 65 training units and two 'Ice Miles'. During training and the 'Ice Miles', body core temperature was measured using a thermoelectric probe before, during and after swimming. During trainings and the 'Ice Miles', body core temperature increased after start, dropped during swimming but was lowest during recovery. During training, body core temperature at start was the only predictor (ß = -0.233, p = 0.025) for the increase in body core temperature. Water temperature (ß = 0.07, p = 0.006) and body core temperature at start (ß = -0.90, p = 0.006) explained 61% of the variance for the non-significant decrease in body core temperature. Water temperature (ß = 0.077, p = 0.0059) and body core temperature at finish (ß = 0.444, p = 0.02) were the most important predictors for the lowest body core temperature. In 'Ice Miles', body core temperature was highest ~6-18 min after the start (38.3-38.4°C), dropped during swimming by 1.7°C to ~36.5°C and was lowest ~40-56 min after finish. The lowest body core temperature (34.5-35.0°C) was achieved ~100 min after start. In an experienced ice swimmer with a high BMI (>35 kg/m(2)) and a high percent body fat (~45%), body core temperature decreased by 1.7°C while swimming and by 3.2-3.7°C after the swim to reach the lowest temperature in an official 'Ice Mile'. The swimmer suffered no hypothermia during ice swimming, but body core temperature dropped to <36°C after ice swimming. Future athletes intending to swim an 'Ice Mile' should be aware that a large body fat prevents from suffering hypothermia during ice swimming, but not after ice swimming.
Conference Paper
Aim: Chlorophyll is a substance found in plants, basic for photosynthesis. Recent studies show anti-cancer and antioxidant effects; the purpose of this study is to verify the effects of protracted chlorophyll intake on blood counts parameters and iron levels in volunteers practicing endurance sports, to investigate hypothesized anti anemic properties. Methods: Twenty-two volunteers (15 males, 7 females) endurance sport practitioners were randomly divided into two groups in a tripleblind: the experimental group (EG) has taken chlorophyll while the control group (CG) a placebo, at a dose of 1.6 gtt/kg/day for 120 days. Blood count and the serum iron analyzes were carried out before starting the experiment (T0), after 30 days (T1) and after 120 days (T2). Leukocytes (WBC), erythrocytes (RBC, MCV, RDW-SD, RDW-CV), hemoglobin (Hb, MCH, MCHC), hematocrit (Ht), platelets (PLTS, PDW, MPV, P-LCR) and serum iron (Fe) were analyzed. Results: The results show a significant increase (p\0.05) by the experimental group (T2-T0) in the PDW, MPV and in the P-LCR. Conclusions: The increase of values related to platelet related variables could positively influence the performance of endurance by reducing pain and fatigue. These specifically anti-anemic properties require further study. References Hendry GA, Jones OT (1980) Haems and chlorophylls: comparison of function and formation. J Med Genet 17(1):1–14 Nagini S, Palitti F, Natarajan AT (2015) Chemopreventive potential of chlorophyllin: a review of the mechanisms of action and molecular targets. Nutr Cancer 67(2):203–211. Lippi G, Salvagno GL, Danese E et al (2014) Variation of red blood cell distribution width and mean platelet volume after moderate endurance exercise. Adv Hematol, 1–4.
Article
Introduction: This case study reports a range of physiological characteristics in a two-time Tour de France champion. Methods: After body composition assessment (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), two submaximal cycling step tests were performed in ambient (20°C, 40%) and hot and humid (30°C, 60% [HH]) conditions from which measures of gross efficiency (GE), lactate-power landmarks, and heart rate responses were calculated. In addition, thermoregulatory and sweat responses were collected throughout. V˙O2peak and peak power output (PPO) were also identified after a separate ramp test to exhaustion. Results: V˙O2peak and PPO were 5.91 L·min (84 mL·kg·min) and 525 W, respectively, whereas mean GE values were 23.0% and 23.6% for ambient and HH conditions, respectively. In addition to superior GE, power output at 4 mmol·L lactate was higher in HH versus ambient conditions (429.6 vs 419.0 W) supporting anecdotal reports from the participant of good performance in the heat. Peak core and skin temperature, sweat rate, and electrolyte content were higher in HH conditions. Body fat percentage was 9.5%, whereas total fat mass, lean mass, and bone mineral content were 6.7, 61.5, and 2.8 kg, respectively. Conclusion: The aerobic physiology and PPO values indentified are among the highest reported for professional road cyclists. Notably, the participant displayed both a high V˙O2peak and GE, which is uncommon among elite cyclists and may be a contributing factor to their success in elite cycling. In addition, performance in HH conditions was strong, suggesting effective thermoregulatory physiology. In summary, this is the first study to report physiological characteristics of a multiple Tour de France champion in close to peak condition and suggests what may be the prerequisite physiological and thermoregulatory capacities for success at this level.
Article
Aim: The purpose of the present study was to report the training of a master athlete in preparation to an ultra-marathon swimming event. Methods: For 32 weeks prior to a 78km "solo" open water swim from Italy to Albania, a male long distance master (48 yrs) swimmer was monitored. Training volume was recorded as total time and distance while intensities were recorded according to international classifications utilizing the primary goal of the session method. Thereafter, time spent in the three training zones: Z1 (low intensity training), Z2 (threshold training) and Z3 (high intensity training) was calculated. Results: Weekly swimming volume ranged from 15 to 70 km.week-1 and training frequency ranged from 3 to 6 days.week-1. Total weekly training dedicated to swimming ranged from 270 to 1140 min. Training intensity comprised Z1=64%. Z2=28%, and Z3=8%, respectively. During the three- week taper period, total swimming volume decreased by 43% while intensity remained unchanged. The athlete succeeded in being the first swimmer to accomplish the event. Conclusions: These findings provide useful information for coaches on training regimens of master ultra-marathon swimmers. Compared to the literature, time spent at a Z1 training intensity was lower in favour of that spent in Z2. It could be speculated that master ultra-marathon athletes might benefit from training intensities at or above LT to counterbalance the age-related physiological decrease.
Article
In this chapter the determinants of C (the energy cost of locomotion) in aquatic sport activities are presented and discussed with a particular focus on swimming (with different strokes) and on boat locomotion (e.g., rowing and kayaking). By contrast with locomotion on land, a large proportion of the power provided by the muscles is necessarily wasted to transfer water kinetic energy that is not useful for propulsion. Thus, the concept of propelling efficiency (the ratio of power output useful for propulsion to total power output) is fundamental to understanding these modes of locomotion. Furthermore, even if the literature provides all data needed to calculate C in this environment, it is rather difficult to estimate physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) of aquatic sport activities, because of the multiplicity of factors that affect energy expenditure in water (e.g., mode of locomotion, speed, gender, age and technical skill).
Article
To evaluate the effect of a solo ultra-endurance open-water swim upon autonomic and non-autonomic control of heart rate (HR). A male athlete (age: 48yr, height, 172 cm; body mass, 68 kg; BMI, 23 kg/m2) underwent the heart rate variability (HRV) and circulating catecholamine evaluations at different time intervals before and after an ultra-endurance swim, crossing the Adriatic sea from Italy to Albania. The HRV was measured in 5-minutes segments and quantified by time-and frequency-domain. Circulating catecholamines were extimated by salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) assay. The athlete completed 78.1 km in 23:44 hr:min. After arrival, sAA levels increased by 102.6%. Time- and frequency-domain HRV indexes decreased, as well (mean RR interval, -29,7%; standard deviation of normal mean RR interval, -63,1%; square root of mean squared successive differences between normal-to-normal RR intervals, -49.3%; Total power, -74.3%; LF low frequency, -78.0%; high frequency, -76.4%); while HR increased by 41.8%. At 16-hr recovery, sAA returned to pre-event values; while, a stable tachycardia was accompanied by reduced HRV measures. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting cardiac autonomic adjustments to an extreme and challanging ultra-endurance open-water swim. Our findings confirmed that the autonomic drives depend upon exercise efforts. Since HRV changes did not mirror the catecholamine response 16-hr post-event, we assume that ultra-endurance swim differently influenced cardiac function by both adaptive autonomic and non-autonomic patterns.