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To evaluate the pacing strategy, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and mood during a 78.1-km solo ultraendurance open-water swim.


Before and after the event, anthropometric parameters, cortisol, and the profile of mood state (POMS) of 1 male athlete (age 48 y, height 172 cm, body mass 68 kg, body fat 7.2%, athletic achievement: Italian record holder of the Channel Swim) were ascertained. Every 3 h during the event, average swimming speed (SS), stroke rate, stroke length (SL), and RPE were recorded.


The athlete completed the event in 23:44 h:min. Compared with the first 3 h of swimming, decreases in SS (−33%) and SL (−25%) were observed between 18 h and 21 h. Thereafter, the athlete increased SS (+41%) and SL (+17%) between 21 h and the end. RPE steadily increased from the beginning to the last 6 h of swimming. Cortisol showed a 23-fold increase. After the event, POMS showed a 500% increase in fatigue, 44% decrease in tension, and 77% decrease in vigor.


For the first time ever an athlete crossed the Adriatic Sea. This case study shows that the athlete adopted a variable pacing strategy to complete 78 km. Despite the athlete perceiving his effort at maximum during the last 6 h, the observed increases in SS at the end of the event might substantiate his high potential motivation to accomplish this challenging and unique event.

De Ioannon, Antonelli, Capranica, and Piacentini are with the Dept of Movement, Human and Health sciences, University of Rome Foro Italico, Rome, Italy. Cibelli is with the Dept of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy. Mignardi is with the School of Sport CONI, Lazio, Italy.

Address author correspondence to Maria Francesca Piacentini at