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

  • H. K. Smith
  • R. R. Montpetit
  • H. Perrault


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.

Key words

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


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. K. Smith
    • 1
  • R. R. Montpetit
    • 2
  • H. Perrault
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical EducationMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department d'éducation physiqueUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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