Anthropometric Profiles of Elite Open-Water Swimmers

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Reports detailing the physiques of open-water (OW) swimmers are limited. Data from anthropometric screening around competition provides a unique opportunity to describe the current physical attributes of elite OW swimmers peaking for international competition. Anthropometric screening was undertaken on a group of Australian and French OW swimmers as part of performance monitoring within 2 wk of the 2015 FINA World Championships. Height, mass, and sum of 7 skinfolds were measured using ISAK standardized measurement techniques by 2 trained anthropometrists. Data were collated and compared with previously published data on OW and pool swimmers. French swimmers had lower skinfolds (57.3 ± 6.1 vs 80.5 ± 21.3 mm, P = .0258), were lighter (64.7 ± 10.8 vs 74.6 ± 11.8 kg, P = .013), and had lower lean-mass index (LMI) (34.7 ± 7.3 vs 38.2 ± 8.8, P = .035) than Australian swimmers. Male and female OW swimmers had skinfolds similar to their contemporary OW swimmers but were lower than earlier reports of OW swimmers; however, they were higher than those of pool swimmers. Male and female OW swimmers had 9% and 6% lower LMI, respectively, than pool swimmers. Lower body mass and LMI were correlated with better World Championships finishing positions (R2 = .46, P = .0151, and R2 = .45, P = .0177, respectively). These data are a unique report of elite OW swimmers’ physiques around international competition and demonstrate a potential morphological optimization in OW swimmers that warrants further investigation in larger populations.

Shaw is with Sports Nutrition, Australian Inst of Sport, Canberra, Australia. Mujika is with the Dept of Physiology, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Basque Country, Spain, and the School of Kinesiology, Finis Terrae University, Santiago, Chile.

Shaw (greg.shaw@ausport.gov.au) is corresponding author.
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