The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the energy cost of swimming, body composition, and technical parameters on swimming performance in young swimmers. Twenty-nine swimmers, 15 prepubertal (11.9 ± 0.3 years; Tanner Stages 1−2) and 14 pubertal (14.3 ± 1.4 years; Tanner Stages 3−4) boys participated in the study. The energy cost of swimming (Cs) and stroking parameters were assessed over maximal 400-m front-crawl swimming in a 25m swimming pool. The backward extrapolation technique was used to evaluate peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak). A stroke index (SI; m2 · s−1 · cycles−1) was calculated by multiplying the swimming speed by the stroke length. VO2peak results were compared with VO2peak test in the laboratory (bicycle, 2.86 ± 0.74 L/min, vs. in water, 2.53 ± 0.50 L/min; R2 = .713; p = .0001). Stepwise-regression analyses revealed that SI (R2 = .898), in-water VO2peak (R2 = .358), and arm span (R2 = .454) were the best predictors of swimming performance. The backward-extrapolation method could be used to assess VO2peak in young swimmers. SI, arm span, and VO2peak appear to be the major determinants of front-crawl swimming performance in young swimmers.
J. Jürimäe, Haljaste, Lätt, Purge, Leppik, and T. Jürimäe are with the Institute of Sport Pedagogy and Coaching Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu Estonia. Cicchella is with the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.