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To validate the 3-minute all-out exercise test (3MT) protocol against the traditional critical-speed (CS) model (CSM) in front-crawl swimming.


Ten healthy swimmers or triathletes (mean ± SD age 35.2 ± 10.5 y, height 176.5 ± 5.4 cm, body mass 69.6 ± 8.2 kg) completed 5 tests (3MT, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m) over 2 wk on separate days. Traditional CS and anaerobic distance capacity (D′) were determined for each of the 3 traditional CSMs (linear distance-time, LIN; linear speed/time, INV; nonlinear time-speed, NLIN) from the 4 set-distance time trials. For the 3MT, CS was determined as the mean speed during the final 30 s of the test and D′ was estimated as the power-time integral above the CS.


Our results indicated no significant difference between the CS estimates determined from the traditional CSM and 3MT except for the INV model (P = .0311). Correlations between traditional CSMs and 3MT were high (r = .95, P < .01) However, D′ differed and post hoc analysis indicated that D′ estimated from 3MT was significantly lower than LIN (P = .0052) and NLIN (P < .0001). Correlations were weak (r < .55, P > .1). In addition, Bland-Altman plots between the traditional CSMs and 3MT CS estimates showed scattered points above and below the zero line, suggesting there is no consistent bias of one approach versus the other.


The 3MT is a valid protocol for swimming to estimate CS. The demonstrated concurrent validity of the 3MT may allow more widespread use of CSMs to evaluate participants and responses to training.

The authors are with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Ming-Chang Tsai at
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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