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The aerobic demand of backstroke swimming, and its relation to body size, stroke technique, and performance

Summary

Few studies have examined the aerobic demand of backstroke swimming, and its relation to body morphology, technique, or performance. The aims of this study were thus to: i) describe the aerobic demand of backstroke swimming in proficient swimmers at high velocities; ii) assess the effects of body size and stroke technique on submaximal and maximal O2 costs, and; iii) test for a relationship between submaximal O2 costs and maximal performance. Sixteen male competitive swimmers were tested during backstroke swimming at velocities from 1.0 to 1.4 m · s−1. Results showed that\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) increased linearly with velocity (m · s−1) following the equation\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) =6.28v−3.81 (r=0.77, SEE/Y=14.9%).\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) was also related to the subjects' body mass, height, and armspan. Longer distances per stroke were associated with lower O2 costs, and better maximal performances. A significant relation was found between\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) at 1.1 m · s−1, adjusted for body mass, and 400 m performance (r=−0.78). Submaximal\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) was also related to reported times for 100 m and 200 m races. Multiple correlation analyses indicated that\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) at 1.1 m · s−1 and\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2}} {\text{max}}} } \) accounted for up to 78% of the variance in maximal performances. These results suggest that the assessment of submaximal and maximal\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } \) during backstroke swimming may be of value in the training and testing programs of competitive swimmers.

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Smith, H.K., Montpetit, R.R. & Perrault, H. The aerobic demand of backstroke swimming, and its relation to body size, stroke technique, and performance. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 58, 182–188 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00636624

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Key words

  • Oxygen demand
  • \(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2}} {\text{max}}} } \)
  • Body size
  • Performance
  • Backstroke swimming