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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), caffeine, and their combination on repeated 200-m freestyle performance. Six elite male freestyle swimmers ingested NaHCO3 (0.3 g/kg; B), caffeine (6.2 ± 0.3 mg/kg; C), a combination of both (B+C), and placebo (P) on 4 separate occasions before completing 2 maximal 200-m freestyle time trials (TT1 and TT2) separated by 30 min. No significant differences (p = .06) were observed for performance in TT1 (B 2:03.01 ± 0:03.68 min, C 2:02.42 ± 0:03.17 min, B+C 2:01.69 ± 0:03.19 min, P 2:03.77 ± 0:03.21 min) or TT2 (B 2:02.62 ± 0:04.16 min, C 2:03.90 ± 0:03.58 min, B+C 2:01.70 ± 0:02.84 min, P 2:04.22 ± 0:03.75 min). The drop-off in performance time from TT1 to TT2, however, was significantly greater when C was ingested than with B (−1.5%, p = .002) or B+C (–1.2%, p = .024). This is likely because of the lower blood pH and slower recovery of blood HCO3 post-TT1 after C ingestion. These findings suggest that the ergogenic benefit of taking C alone for repeated 200-m swimming performance appears limited. When combined with NaHCO3, however, its negative impact on repeated maximal exercise performance is reversed.
Pruscino, Savage, and Flanagan are with the Dept. of Sport Science, Victorian Inst. of Sport, Melbourne, Victoria 8006 Australia. Ross is with the Dept. of Physiology, Australian Inst. of Sport, Belconnen, ACT 2617 Australia. Gregory is with the Dept. of Sport Science, Tasmanian Inst. of Sport, Prospect, Tasmania 7250 Australia.