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The aims of the present research were (1) to characterise the individualised race segments configuration (start, turn and free swimming) of Paralympic swimmers and (2) to examine the influence of the swimmers’ functional classification on their race segments configuration. Finalists (248 men and 264 women) in the 100 m swimming events of the 2012 London Paralympic Games were distributed in five different subgroups based on their functional class designation and race performances were video-analysed with 2D-DLT algorithms. The start and turn distances of Paralympic swimmers in the 100 m events did not coincide with the traditional 10–15 m segments and they depended on the swimmer’s functional group (η² = 0.48), as longer start and turn distances were observed according to the lower degree of impairment of swimmers. However, no differences were observed in the start and turn distances of the least physically impaired, the visually and the intellectually impaired swimmers (S8–S14), regardless of the stroke and gender. These results indicate that, in terms of the race segments configuration, there is no evidence to support the classification of S8–S14 swimmers in different functional classes.
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International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
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Effect of functional classification on the swimming
race segments during the 2012 London Paralympic
Games
Javier Pérez-Tejero, Santiago Veiga, Alberto Almena, Archit Navandar &
Enrique Navarro
To cite this article: Javier Pérez-Tejero, Santiago Veiga, Alberto Almena, Archit Navandar &
Enrique Navarro (2017): Effect of functional classification on the swimming race segments during
the 2012 London Paralympic Games, International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2017.1348059
Published online: 11 Jul 2017.
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2017.1348059
Eect of functional classication on the swimming race
segments during the 2012 London Paralympic Games
Javier Pérez-Tejeroa, Santiago Veigaa,b, Alberto Almenaa, Archit Navandara and
Enrique Navarroa
aHealth and Human Performance Department, Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain; bMadrid
Swimming Federation, Madrid, Spain
ABSTRACT
The aims of the present research were (1) to characterise the
individualised race segments conguration (start, turn and free
swimming) of Paralympic swimmers and (2) to examine the inuence
of the swimmers’ functional classication on their race segments
conguration. Finalists (248 men and 264 women) in the 100 m
swimming events of the 2012 London Paralympic Games were
distributed in ve dierent subgroups based on their functional
class designation and race performances were video-analysed
with 2D-DLT algorithms. The start and turn distances of Paralympic
swimmers in the 100m events did not coincide with the traditional
10–15m segments and they depended on the swimmer’s functional
group (η2=0.48), as longer start and turn distances were observed
according to the lower degree of impairment of swimmers. However,
no dierences were observed in the start and turn distances of the
least physically impaired, the visually and the intellectually impaired
swimmers (S8–S14), regardless of the stroke and gender. These results
indicate that, in terms of the race segments conguration, there is no
evidence to support the classication of S8–S14 swimmers in dierent
functional classes.
1. Introduction
Functional classication is a fundamental concept in Paralympic sport. Its main purpose is
to evaluate the inuence of the athletes impairment on sports performance and to ensure
that the athlete participates on equal terms with or against others (Tweedy & Vanlandewijck,
2011). e functional classication process must be evidence-based and it must take into
account the specic factors inuencing the result in each sport (Tweedy, Gavin, & Bourke,
2010). In swimming, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) establishes a func-
tional classication system that combines the conditions of limb loss, cerebral palsy, spinal
cord injury and other disabilities (International Paralympic Committee, 2015). Athletes are
grouped in dierent numbered classes where a lower number indicates a more severe activity
limitation than a higher number. For example, S1/SB1 swimmers demonstrate a signicant
KEYWORDS
Disability; competition;
kinematics; methodology
and performance analysis
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 31 March 2017
Accepted26 June 2017
© 2017 Cardiff Metropolitan University
CONTACT Santiago Veiga santiago.veiga@upm.es
2 J. PÉREZTEJERO ET AL.
loss of muscle power or control in legs, arms and hands (usually caused by tetraplegia and
using a wheelchair in daily life), whereas S10/SB9 swimmers present minimal physical
impairments (for example, the loss of one hand or a movement restriction in one hip joint).
According to the type of impairment, swimmers with locomotor disabilities compete in one
of the ten S classes established for the freestyle, buttery and backstroke events and one of
the nine SB classes established for breaststroke. For the swimmers with visual impairments,
groups are divided into three functional S classes for the freestyle, buttery and backstroke
(S11, S12 and S13) and one of the three SB classes for breaststroke, depending on the degree
of visual acuity, eld of vision and light perception. Finally, swimmers with intellectual
impairment compete under one S (S14) or one SB (SB14) class for the freestyle, buttery
and backstroke or breaststroke events.
e analysis of swimming competitions in Paralympic swimmers is based, in the same
way as for the able-bodied competition, on a deterministic model (Hay & Guimaraes, 1983)
where the total race time is divided in dierent race segments. e start time is measured
from the beginning of the race to the swimmers’ head reaching the 10 or 15m mark from
the wall; the turning time is measured between the swimmer’s head reaching the 7.5m
mark (or similar distances like 10 or 15m) before and aer the turning wall; and the free
swimming time is considered as the total race time minus the start and turn times, both in
Olympic (Arellano, Brown, Cappaert, & Nelson, 1994) and Paralympic swimming (Daly,
Malone, Smith, Vanlandewijck, & Steadward, 2001). e free swimming segment is the most
important of the segments to the end result as, quantitatively, it represents the major contri-
bution to the race distance. However, the start and turn times of swimmers with and without
a disability are also correlated to their race performance to a very large extent, regardless of
the stroke event (Daly et al., 2001; Veiga, Mallo, Navandar, & Navarro, 2014b). e ability
of Paralympic swimmers to perform in the dierent race segments varies according to the
degree of impairment, although those swimmers with similar physical limitations obtain
similar 15m starting or turning times despite belonging to dierent functional groups
(Dingley, Pyne, & Burkett, 2014a).
In the last few years, new procedures have been developed to further analyse the swim-
ming races of able-bodied competitors. Some research studies have measured the individ-
ualised starting and turning distances from the starting or turning wall to the point of the
swimmer’s head surfacing aer swimming underwater. In this way, the real contribution of
the non-swimming segments (start and turn) to the total race distance (maximum 24% in
100m races) has been reported (Veiga, Cala, Mallo, & Navarro, 2013; Veiga & Roig, 2015)
and higher level swimmers have been observed to travel longer distances underwater, which
also seem to be dependent on the stroke event or gender (Veiga, Cala, Frutos, & Navarro,
2014a). As the underwater swimming represents the race segment with the fastest velocity
(Vennell, Pease, & Wilson, 2006), small changes to the start or turn contribution to the
race distance represent improvements of practical importance on the race performance at
the elite level (Veiga, Roig, & Gómez-Ruano, 2016). In testing conditions, this individual-
ised approach has also been employed to evaluate the freestyle swim-starts of Paralympic
swimmers, indicating that duration of the underwater swimming depends on the severity
of the swimmer’s impairment but also on the type of impairment. Swimmers with upper
body disabilities appear to spend a greater amount of time underwater in comparison to
swimmers with lower body or palsy disabilities (Dingley et al., 2014a). Also, swimmers
belonging to the least physically impaired groups (S9–S10) show no signicant dierences in
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 3
a majority of the start subsections parameters (Burkett, Mellifont, & Mason, 2010). However,
these individualised-distance race parameters have not been yet provided in Paralympic
swimming, especially in the non-freestyle events.
Considering the diversity of impairments in Paralympic sport (Tweedy & Vanlandewijck,
2011) and the greater variability in the technical execution of Paralympic swimmers (Burkett,
2011), it is unknown how these swimmers congure the race distance in terms of under-
water or surface movements or, at the same time, in terms of starting, free swimming or
turning movements. Taking into account the practical importance of these race distances
on swimming performance, the aims of the present research were (1) to characterise the
individualised race segments conguration (start, turn and free swimming) of Paralympic
swimmers and (2) to examine the inuence of the swimmers’ functional classication on
their race segments conguration.
2. Methods
Five hundred and twelve nalists (248 men and 264 women) competing in all the func-
tional classes of the 100m events at the 2012 London Paralympic Games were analysed in
the framework of a project to provide race analyses to coaches and swimmers during the
competition. Table 1 shows participants in each functional classication group, as well as
the race times of each event, noting that there were some classes with no 100m events for
a given swimming stroke (for instance, in S14 classes, only breaststroke and backstroke
events for both genders were included in the programme of the 2012 London Paralympic
Games). In order to reduce sampling variation along all classes of the Paralympic Swimming
event, all swimmers were distributed for analysis in ve Paralympic subgroups according
to Fulton, Pyne, Hopkins, and Burkett (2009): S2–S4, S5–S7, S8–S10 (most through least
physically impaired), S11–S13 (most through least visually impaired) and S14 (intellectu-
ally impaired). is approach reduced the uncertainty of inferences in the population of
Paralympic swimmers (Dingley, Pyne, & Burkett, 2015), specially for comparison purposes
(Dingley, Pyne, & Burkett, 2014b). All team managers provided an informed written consent
before the commencement of the competition to employ race analysis for research purposes
and all experimental procedures were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review
Board of the University. Due to technical reasons beyond the authors’ responsibility, no
race data were obtained from the mens 100m buttery S8 and breaststroke SB11 events.
ree xed JVC®GYDV500E camcorders recording simultaneously at 25Hz on the
public stands of the London Aquatic Centre (at 10m above and 15m away from the side
of the pool) were employed to record the 100m nal races, in accordance with previous
race analysis studies in Olympic Games (Arellano et al., 1994). Each camera captured a
dierent segment of the race: camera 1 captured from the starting block to 15m, camera
2 captured from 20 to 30m and camera 3 from 35 to 50m. All three cameras were con-
nected to a host computer via a GigE Vision compliant Gigabit Ethernet interface (Mare®,
Technical University of Madrid, Spain) and race footage from each camera was stored in
the same video le. e time code was determined by start light output connected to the
ocial timing system.
2D-DLT algorithms Abdel-Aziz and Karara (1971) were employed to reconstruct the
plane of motion during swimming races aer a computerised analysis of images with manual
digitisation (Photo 23D®, Technical Madrid University, Spain) was performed. Twenty-four
4 J. PÉREZTEJERO ET AL.
Table 1.Swimmer participants and end race times (mean±standard deviation) in the 100m races at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Notes: Class S2–S10 (most through least physically impaired); Class S11–S13 (most through least visually impaired); Class S14 (intellectually impaired).
Paralympic subgroup
Freestyle Backstroke Breaststroke Buttery
Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male
S2–S4 N8 12 8 8
Race times (s) 131.61±18.10 105.63±28.39 117.77±9.20 103.43±7.79
S5–S7 N24 28 16 16 24 24
Race times (s) 79.42±6.25 69.86±6.82 88.18±3.64 76.73±5.50 106.43±8.55 90.55±8.24
S8–S10 N24 24 24 24 16 16 16 8
Race times (s) 65.37±3.25 56.52±2.72 75.17±5.39 65.06±3.68 82.69±4.36 71.19±3.79 71.79±3.12 59.81±2.03
S11–S13 N24 24 16 24 24 16 8 24
Race times (s) 65.32±5.01 56.49±4.73 78.65±6.04 65.17±4.39 85.98±6.99 69.11±2.78 71.53±4.40 61.82±4.36
S14 N8 8 8 8
Race times (s) 70.62±1.69 65.24±1.64 82.42±2.80 69.98±2.26
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 5
pool building marks distributed along the swimming pool (eight marks per camera) were
recorded by the three cameras and were used for calibration procedures. e accuracy of
2D-DLT calculation was assessed by reconstructing the position and distance between
32 other control points separated from the original calibration points and represented by
coloured points on the oating lanes. e root mean square error of the 2D-DLT technique
was 0.041m when reconstructing the position of the 32 control points, and 0.037m when
reconstructing the distance between them. In order to quantify the race segments, the swim-
mers’ hand entry or head surfacing were identied by an experienced observer at selected
instants during the race. To assess the digitising process, the two technical actions dening
race parameters (head surfacing and hand entry) were repeatedly digitised 32 times (four in
each lane) in a randomly selected trial, with a coecient of variation between 0.65% in lane
2 and 1.24% in lane 8. As expected, accuracy of digitisation was lower in the furthest lane
from the camera position although error values were in line with previous studies (Veiga,
Cala, González Frutos, & Navarro, 2010).
Once the position of swimmers at specic instants of the race was calculated, the follow-
ing race parameters were obtained: dive distance (from the starting wall to the swimmer’s
rst water contact aer leaving the starting block), underwater distance (from the swimmer’s
rst water contact to the swimmer’s head surfacing from underwater), turn-in distance
(from the swimmer’s head position at the last stroke hand entry, or last head surfacing in
breaststroke-to the turning wall) and turn-out distance (from the turning wall to the swim-
mer’s head surfacing from underwater). In cases when the swimmers performed a push
start from the water, no dive distances were computed. e sum of the dive and underwater
distances of each swimmer represented the start distance, the sum of the turn-in and turn-
out distances represented the turn distance and the total race distance minus the start and
turn distances represented the free swimming distance.
A descriptive analysis of the variables (mean±standard deviation) was rstly performed
by gender and by class. en, in order to examine the eects of the functional classication
on the dierent races conguration, a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA)
was performed with the start and turn parameters according to the swimmers assigned
Paralympic subgroup, the stroke and the gender. Aer ensuring the sphericity assumption
was not violated and according to signicant interactions with the Huynh-Feldt correction,
multiple comparisons between the ANOVA levels were performed using the Bonferroni
post hoc test. Alpha level was set at 0.05 for all the statistical tests and eect sizes (as partial
eta-squared and Cohen’s d values) as well as 95% condence intervals (CIs) were used to
provide an indication of the magnitude of the dierences. e threshold values for trivial,
small, medium and large eect sizes according to Cohen (1992) were 0.2, 0.5 and 0.8,
respectively. All the analysis was conducted with SPSS 15.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).
3. Results
e start and turn segments conguration of Paralympic swimmers in dierent functional
subgroups are shown in Tables 2 and 3, according to stroke and gender. Male swimmers
generally travelled 1.12m (95% CI 0.68 to 1.48m, p=0.001, d=0.33 [small]) and 1.23m
(95% CI 0.83 to 1.48m, p=0.001, d=0.42 [small]) longer start and turn distances, respec-
tively, compared to female swimmers. Dive distances in backstroke events were shorter
than in the breaststroke (−0.43m, 95% CI −0.56 to −0.30m, p=0.001, d=0.71 [medium]),
6 J. PÉREZTEJERO ET AL.
Table 2.Start segment configuration in metres (mean±standard deviation) of the 100m finals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games for the different subgroups.
Notes: Class S2–S10 (most through least physically impaired); Class S11–S13 (most through least visually impaired); Class S14 (intellectually impaired).
Paralympic
subgroup Race segment
Freestyle Backstroke Breaststroke Buttery
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
S2–S4 Dive 1.98±0.50 2.06±0.45 1.62±0.52 1.62±0.52
Underwater 1.27±1.38 0.96±1.26 2.16±1.53 2.16±1.53
Total 3.25±1.22 3.02±1.12 3.78±1.84 3.78±1.87
S5–S7 Dive 2.57±0.50 2.17±0.29 2.32±0.31 2.00±0.37 2.60±0.57 2.28±0.46
Underwater 3.42±2.65 2.63±1.56 3.80±3.78 4.05±3.95 5.95±2.05 4.66±1.56
Total 5.99±2.98 4.80±1.77 6.13±3.79 6.05±3.93 8.54±2.42 6.94±1.75
S8–S10 Dive 3.32±0.25 2.73±0.25 2.29±0.58 2.08±0.43 3.28±0.19 2.85±0.25 3.40±0.24 2.82±0.27
Underwater 6.18±1.61 5.42±1.51 6.34±3.29 5.52±2.66 8.24±1.07 7.64±1.10 7.04±0.91 7.52±1.10
Total 9.41±1.63 8.15±1.62 8.64±3.30 7.60±2.78 11.52±1.10 10.49±1.14 10.43±1.47 10.34±2.09
S11–S13 Dive 3.09±0.40 2.65±0.44 2.74±0.20 2.40±0.14 2.83±0.30 2.83±0.30 2.98±0.32 2.91±0.29
Underwater 6.71±1.53 5.45±0.98 8.12±2.52 6.13±2.50 9.35±1.04 6.98±1.07 7.76±1.83 7.33±1.86
Total 9.80±1.64 8.10±1.31 10.86±2.63 8.53±2.50 12.18±1.11 9.81±1.15 10.74±1.78 10.24±1.76
S14 Dive 2.10±0.28 1.68±0.22 3.19±0.18 2.23±0.40
Underwater 8.20±1.89 6.92±2.17 8.25±0.44 7.06±0.92
Total 10.30±1.81 8.60±2.11 11.44±0.44 9.29±1.12
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 7
Table 3.Turn segment configuration in metres (mean±standard deviation) of the 100m finals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games for the different subgroups.
Notes: Class S2–S10 (most through least physically impaired); Class S11–S13 (most through least visually impaired); Class S14 (intellectually impaired).
Paralympic
subgroup Race segment
Freestyle Backstroke Breaststroke Buttery
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
S2–S4 Turn in 1.05±0.24 0.75±0.30 1.20±0.47 0.74±0.22
Turn out 2.32±0.67 1.60±0.64 3.65±2.04 2.62±1.02
Total 3.37±0.78 2.35±0.74 4.86±2.00 3.36±0.98
S5–S7 Turn in 1.54±0.62 1.34±0.50 1.68±0.52 1.48±0.50 1.32±0.56 1.20±0.43
Turn out 3.09±1.52 2.82±0.90 4.46±2.07 4.01±1.62 5.60±1.90 4.32±1.22
Total 4.63±1.92 4.16±1.15 6.14±1.95 5.49±1.68 6.93±2.18 5.52±1.22
S8–S10 Turn in 2.39±0.41 2.04±0.44 2.47±0.68 2.26±0.44 1.65±0.36 1.88±0.51 1.21±0.36 1.24±0.40
Turn out 3.68±2.74 4.50±1.04 6.75±2.53 5.41±1.43 8.31±1.00 7.11±0.82 7.41±1.57 6.30±1.25
Total 6.07±2.85 6.54±1.22 9.22±2.68 7.68±1.51 9.96±1.12 8.99±0.84 8.62±2.22 7.54±1.32
S11–S13 Turn in 1.93±0.59 1.71±0.47 2.35±0.57 1.83±0.74 2.02±0.45 1.64±0.36 1.45±0.56 1.72±0.39
Turn out 5.34±1.42 4.48±0.71 7.05±1.75 5.12±1.09 8.87±0.92 6.43±1.57 6.61±1.56 6.11±1.15
Total 7.28±1.66 6.19±1.04 9.40±2.06 6.94±1.62 10.89±1.00 8.07±1.55 8.06±1.72 7.83±1.41
S14 Turn in 1.99±0.42 2.14±0.40 1.95±0.20 1.76±0.48
Turn out 6.27±1.37 6.30±1.51 7.91±0.52 7.09±1.31
Total 8.27±1.67 8.45±1.48 9.86±0.51 8.85±0.67
8 J. PÉREZTEJERO ET AL.
freestyle (−0.36m, 95% CI −0.48 to −0.23m, p=0.001, d=0.69 [medium]) and buttery
(−0.83m, 95% CI −1.00 to −0.65m, p=0.001, d=1.34 [large]) races, whereas the under-
water distances on freestyle were shorter than the backstroke (−2.16m, 95% CI −2.84 to
−1.46m, p=0.001,d=0.54 [medium]), breaststroke (−2.26m, 95% CI −2.94 to −1.59m,
p=0.001, d=0.93 [large]) and buttery (−3.43m, −4.36 to −2.49m, p=0.001, d=1.37
[large]) events. For the turn subsections, the turn-in distances in the backstroke events were
longer than in the freestyle (0.43m, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.60m, p=0.001, d=0.55 [medium]),
breaststroke (0.49m, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.66 m, p =0.001, d=0.83 [large]) and buttery
(0.62m, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.85m, p=0.001, d=0.98 [large]) races whereas, on the turn-out
phase, freestyle distances were shorter than the remaining events (−2.18m, 95% CI −2.68
to −1.67m, p=0.001, d=0.93 [large] in backstroke, −2.60m, −3.10 to −2.11m, p=0.001,
d=1.06 [large] in breaststroke and −3.10m, −3.80 to −2.42m, p=0.001, d=1.24 [large]
in buttery). When start and turn distances were computed together, the contribution of
the non-swimming segments to the 100m Paralympic races varied between 6 and 8% for
the S2–S4 subgroup, 11–15% for S5–S7, 15–21% for S8–S10, 15–23% for S11–S13 and
17–21% for S14.
e 100 m race segment conguration of Paralympic swimmers depended on their
functional classication group (F4=109.47; p=0.001; η2=0.48), as the S8–S10 swimmers
travelled 1.45m longer distances (95% CI 1.14 to 1.76m, p=0.001, d=0.59 [medium])
than S5–S7 swimmers during the non-swimming parts of the race, and these travelled
1.23m longer distances (95% CI 0.76 to 1.70m, p=0.001, d=0.63 [medium]) than S2–
S4 swimmers. On the other hand, no dierences in the non-swimming distances were
observed between the S8–S10 swimmers and the S11–S13 (−0.13m, 95% CI −0.43 to 0.17m,
p=0.999, d=0.06 [trivial]) and S14 (−0.25m, 95% CI −0.73 to 0.24m, p=0.999, d=0.06
[trivial]) swimmers. e only exception were the shorter dive distances travelled by S14
swimmers compared to the S11–S13 (−0.44m, 95% CI −0.65 to 0.23m, p=0.001, d=0.92
[large]) and the S8–S10 swimmers (−0.41m, 95% CI −0.62 to 0.20m, p=0.001, d=0.56
[medium]). e inuence of the functional classication group on the 100m race seg-
ment conguration showed few dierences depending on the stroke (F7=1.333; p=0.23;
η2=0.02) or the gender (F4=2.151; p=0.07, η2=0.02) of the swimmers.
4. Discussion
e functional classication system in Paralympic swimming must be evidence-based in
order to understand the inuence of the athletes impairment on his/her performance. In the
present research, the individualised-distances travelled by Paralympic swimmers with their
starting, turning and free swimming movements were measured to evaluate the dierences
between functional classes. e start and turn distances showed no dierence between the
least physically impaired, the visually impaired and the intellectually impaired swimmers
(S8–S10, S11–S13 and S14 subgroups), although dierences in the race segments were
observed between the three subgroups of swimmers with physical impairments. erefore,
in terms of the race segment distances, there is no evidence to classify S8 to S14 swimmers
in dierent functional classes.
To the best of our knowledge, this study represents the rst time that race analysis based
on individualised-distances has been applied to Paralympic swimmers. e rst impor-
tant observation is that the race segments in the Paralympic 100m swimming events are
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 9
far from the traditional 10 or 15m distances for all the functional groups of swimmers
(Tables 2 and 3). Distances on the start and turn segments did not surpass the 5m mark
in any of the S2–S4 swimmers nor the 10m mark in the remaining classes, except in the
start segment (non-freestyle) of selected S11–S13, S14 or S8–S10 events. e maximum
contribution of the start and turn to the total race exceeded 20% of the 100m just on the
S8–S10 (21.5±2.06%), S11–S13 (23.1±1.72%) and S14 (21.3±0.79%) breaststroke male
races and on the S11–S13 (20.3±4.59%) male backstroke races. is is a much lower per-
centage than the 30% distance of the 15m procedure or the percentage of 15m starting and
turning times employed by Paralympic swimmers with visual impairment (Daly, Malone,
Burkett, Gabrys, & Satkunskiene, 2009). Dierences were partly explained by the dierent
types of start employed by competitors according to their specic impairment. For example,
the S2–S4 swimmers began the race from a push start and travelled start distances (from
the wall to the swimmer’s head surfacing) shorter than 5m, which represents a clear dif-
ference to the 10 or 15m mark. Also, swimmers competing in S6 class races were aected
by amputations of both arms, moderate co-ordination problems on one side of their body
or short stature (International Paralympic Committee, 2015) and employed a push start
or a dive start from a seated or standing position on the block. is variability was rep-
resented by maximum values of standard deviation in the start distances on these classes
(Table 2) and it would suggest the use of individual distances to eectively evaluate their
non-swimming race skills (Puel et al., 2012) or, at least, that race analysts would adapt the
starting and turning distance references to the functional characteristics of these Paralympic
swimmers. Presently, the individual distances have only been employed to describe the dive
and underwater distances of Paralympic swimmers when testing freestyle starts (Burkett et
al., 2010; Dingley et al., 2014a) and values have been similar to those observed during the
2012 London Paralympic Games (Tables 2 and 3). However, no other individualised data
on a race situation was found on the literature.
e distribution of the 100m race segments during 2012 London Paralympic Games
showed a trend between the dierent functional groups of swimmers, where the start and
turn distances increased according to the lower degree of impairment (from lower to higher
classes). is was partly in line with previous studies where swimmers with high-severity
impairments spent a smaller percentage of time swimming underwater (Dingley et al.,
2014a) and it is attributable to the reduced kicking capacity of these swimmers (Fulton,
Pyne, & Burkett, 2011). For example, S2–S4 classes have reduced functional potential in the
lower and/or upper limbs due to tetraplegia below C8, musculoskeletal impairment com-
parable to complete tetraplegia below C8 or severe dysmelia of three limbs (International
Paralympic Committee, 2015). As the kicking is the main method of propulsion in the
underwater phase, the surface swimming would represent a more ecient technique for
them to improve average velocity. However, we observed some distance overlap between
classes, as previously observed for the start and turn times (Daly et al., 2001; Dingley et
al., 2014a) or the start subsections (Burkett et al., 2010) and distances travelled for a lower
subgroup were not shorter than distances travelled on the superior subgroup (Tables 2 and
3). is was especially evident for the least physically impaired, the visual impaired and the
intellectual impaired swimmers (S8–S10, S11–S13 and S14 subgroups), where no dierences
in the start, turn and swimming distances were observed (also regardless of the stroke or
gender). Previously, these groups had been observed to perform similar 15m starting times
(Dingley et al., 2014a). Probably, for these swimmers, the physical requirements for the
10 J. PÉREZTEJERO ET AL.
start and turn execution such as core strength, upper limb strength or lower limb strength
did not depend on the nature and severity of the underlying physical, visual or intellectual
impairment (Dingley et al., 2014b). Also, according to our data, their end race times showed
marginal time dierences (Table 1). erefore, from this race conguration perspective,
there would be no evidence to classify them in dierent functional groups. Previous studies
have also found analogous performance levels between elite S10 and S13 swimmers on the
400m freestyle events (Taylor, Santi, & Mellalieu, 2016) and have suggested an integrated
competition of these functional groups.
Compared to able-bodied swimmers, the contribution of the non-swimming compo-
nents in the Paralympic races showed dierences depending on the degree of impairment
and also the level of performances. For the higher classes of Paralympic swimmers (S8–
S10, S11–S13 and S14), start and turn distances were similar to those previously reported
in able-bodied competitive swimmers at regional and national level (Veiga et al., 2014a)
which is in line with their similar point scoring on the overall race times (between 500
and 700 FINA (Federation Internationale Natation) points for both groups). Values for the
subsections of the turn segment (in and out distances in Table 3) were also similar to those
reported by Veiga et al. (2014b) for national male competitors. However, for elite able-bod-
ied swimmers competing at the World Championships, the start and turn distances were
approximately 2m longer than the high classes of Paralympic swimmers, especially in the
buttery and backstroke events (Veiga & Roig, 2015). Also, Olympic swimmers obtained
longer underwater distances in the freestyle starts than Paralympic swimmers with a low
degree of physical impairment (Burkett et al., 2010). Probably, the technical complexity of
the undulatory movements and the high levels of muscle and joint exibility required as
well as stability and control of muscles (Atkinson, Dickey, Dragunas, & Nolte, 2014) could
explain dierences. On the other hand, the start and turn distances of swimmers with a
higher degree of physical impairment (S5–S7 and S2–S4 classes) were lower than those
reported in able-bodied swimmers regardless of stroke and performance level. For these
swimmers, the severity of their impairment represented a limitation in terms of drag resist-
ance (Oh, Burkett, Osborough, Formosa, & Payton, 2013), the application of impulse forces
or the kicking propulsive force application (Dingley et al., 2014a) to perform the underwater
swimming. Indeed, the majority of swimmers in the S5–S7 and S2–S4 subgroups travelled
shorter underwater distances than the dive distances when starting the race (Table 2).
e results of the present research could serve as a benchmark for elite coaches and
swimmers in order to distribute their race segments distances according to the event, the
level of performances and/or the swimmer functional classication group. Of course, the
underwater distances should be individualised according to the degree and nature of swim-
mer impairment but coaches should seek areas of improvement on the underwater undu-
latory skills, where great dierences are observed between Paralympic and able-bodied
swimmers. Also, results from the 2012 London Paralympic Games could serve race analysts
as a frame of reference for the race segments of Paralympic swimmers. is would allow
them to perform a more specic evaluation of the non-swimming skills in a race or a test-
ing situation. A limitation of the present research was that average velocity values during
the swimming race segments were not provided. is would allow readers to examine the
eect of the start and turn distances on the end race results. In the future, new researches
in Paralympic Swimming would be needed to provide more information about this issue.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 11
5. Conclusions
Race segments distances travelled by swimmer nalists in the 2012 Paralympic Games sug-
gest new challenges to the system of Paralympic classication as no evidence was found to
classify high physically, intellectually and visually impaired swimmers in dierent functional
groups. e starting and turning distances of the 100m events tended to increase in swim-
mers from low to high functional classes due to the limitations of their specic impairment
but no dierences were observed between competitors with a lower degree of physical
impairment (S8–S14). New procedures based on individual distances could be added to
evaluate the race segment conguration of Paralympic swimmers as great discrepancies
with the traditional 10 or 15m start and turn distances were observed.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
ORCID
Archit Navandar http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6997-8099
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... The majority of articles reviewed in the current study focused on multiple events, with six exceptions [4,8,[11][12][13][14] in which only a single event was investigated. Among the studies that investigated several events, two studies analyzed different distances in a single stroke [15,16], one study investigated a single stroke with a single distance but with different levels of visual impairment [17], and the others assessed all four strokes [3,6,7,[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]. There was only one study that investigated individual medley events [25], and medley events have not been analyzed for more than 30 years after that study. ...
... Among physically not impaired athletes, international swimmers [3,6,[12][13][14][15][16][17]19,21,[24][25][26][27] were the most investigated group, followed by national [4,7,8,13,14,16,22] and regional [8,11,18,22]. Three studies [17,20,23] analyzed races for Paralympic athletes. No race analysis studies were identified for any relay events. ...
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Pacing strategies of elite swimmers have been consistently characterised from the average lap velocities. In the present study, we examined the racing strategies of 200 m world class-level swimmers with regard to their underwater and surface lap components. The finals and semi-finals of the 200 m races at the 2013 World Swimming Championships (Barcelona, Spain) were analysed by an innovative image-processing system (InThePool® 2.0). Free swimming velocities of elite swimmers typically decreased throughout the 200 m race laps (-0.12 m · s(-1), 95% CI -0.11 to -0.14 m · s(-1), P = 0.001, η(2) = 0.81), whereas underwater velocities, which were faster than free swimming, were not meaningfully affected by the race progress (0.02 m · s(-1), -0.01 to 0.04 m · s(-1), P = 0.01, η(2) = 0.04). When swimming underwater, elite swimmers typically travelled less distance (-0.66 m, -0.83 to -0.49 m, P = 0.001, η(2) = 0.34) from the first to the third turn of the race, although underwater distances were maintained on the backstroke and butterfly races. These strategies allowed swimmers to maintain their average velocity in the last lap despite a decrease in the free swimming velocity. Elite coaches and swimmers are advised to model their racing strategies by considering both underwater and surface race components.
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To characterise relationships between propulsion, anthropometry, and performance in Paralympic swimming. A cross-sectional study of swimmers (13 male, 15 female) aged 20.5 ± 4.4 yr (mean ± SD) was conducted. Subjects locomotor categorisations were: no- physical disability (n= 8, classes S13-S14), low-severity (n= 11, classes S9-S10) or mid-severity (n= 9, classes S6-S8). Full anthropometric profiles estimated muscle mass and body fat, a bilateral swim-bench ergometer quantified upper-body power production, and 100-m time trials quantified swimming performance. Correlations between ergometer mean power and swimming performance increased with degree of physical disability (low-severity, male r= 0.65, ±0.56 and female r= 0.68, ±0.64; mid-severity, r= 0.87, ±0.41 and r= 0.79, ±0.75). Female mid-severity group showed near perfect (positive) relationships for taller swimmers (with a greater muscle mass and longer arm span) swimming faster. While for female no- and low-severity disability groups, greater muscle mass was associated with slower velocity (r= 0.78, ±0.43 and r= 0.65, ±0.66). This was supported with lighter females (with less frontal surface area) in the low-severity group were faster (r= 0.94, ±0.24). In a gender contrast, low-severity males with less muscle mass (r= -0.64, ±0.56), high skinfolds (r= 0.78, ±0.43), a longer arm span (r= 0.58, ±0.60) or smaller frontal surface area (r= -0.93, ±0.19) were detrimental to swimming velocity production. Low-severity male and mid-severity female Paralympic swimmers should be encouraged to develop muscle mass and upper body power to enhance swimming performance. The generalised anthropometric measures appear to be a secondary consideration for coaches.
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The aim of this study was to compare the race characteristics of the start and turn segments of national and regional level swimmers. In the study, 100 and 200-m events were analysed during the finals session of the Open Comunidad de Madrid (Spain) tournament. The "individualized-distance" method with two-dimensional direct linear transformation algorithm was used to perform race analyses. National level swimmers obtained faster velocities in all race segments and stroke comparisons, although significant inter-level differences in start velocity were only obtained in half (8 out of 16) of the analysed events. Higher level swimmers also travelled for longer start and turn distances but only in the race segments where the gain of speed was high. This was observed in the turn segments, in the backstroke and butterfly strokes and during the 200-m breaststroke event, but not in any of the freestyle events. Time improvements due to the appropriate extension of the underwater subsections appeared to be critical for the end race result and should be carefully evaluated by the "individualized-distance" method.
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The main objectives of the present research were (1) to examine the relationships between the distances travelled underwater during the start and turn segments with swimming race performance at the elite level and (2) to determine if the individualised-distance start and turn parameters affect the overall race performance. The race parameters of the 100 and 200 m events during 2013 World Championships were measured by an innovative image-processing system (InThePool(®) 2.0). Overall, 100 m race times were largely related to faster start velocities in men's breaststroke and freestyle events. Conversely, overall, 200 m race times were largely related to longer starting distances in the women's butterfly events, to longer turn distances in men's and women's backstroke and women's butterfly events and to shorter turn distances in women's freestyle events. Changes on the start or turn velocities could represent moderate time improvements in most of the 100 m events, whereas modifications on the start or turn distances (especially in the last turn) could provide elite swimmers with time improvements of practical importance on the 200 m events. The evaluation of races by individualised-distance parameters should be provided to elite swimmers in order to decide the most appropriate race segment configuration for each event.
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This brand new Handbook addresses Paralympic sports and athletes, providing practical information on the medical issues, biological factors in the performance of the sports and physical conditioning. The book begins with a comprehensive introduction of the Paralympic athlete, followed by discipline-specific reviews from leading authorities in disability sport science, each covering the biomechanics, physiology, medicine, philosophy, sociology and psychology of the discipline. The Paralympic Athlete also addresses recent assessment and training tools to enhance the performance of athletes, particularly useful for trainers and coaches, and examples of best practice on athletes' scientific counseling are also presented. This new title sits in a series of specialist reference volumes, ideal for the use of professionals working directly with competitive athletes