To assess swimmers’ session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) after standardized sets of interval swimming training performed at the same relative intensity but with different total volume and repetition distance.
Thirteen moderately trained swimmers (21.1 ± 1.1 y, 178 ± 6 cm, 74.1 ± 8.3 kg, 100-m freestyle 60.2 ± 2.9 s) performed 4 standardized sets (10 × 100-m, 20 × 100-m, 10 × 200-m, and 5 × 400-m) at the same relative intensity (ie, critical speed), and 1 coach (age 31 y, 7 y coaching experience) rated their efforts. Swimmers’ sRPE was assessed 30 min after the training session. Coach sRPE was collected before each training session. Internal load was calculated by multiplying sRPE by session duration.
When bouts with the same repetition distance and different volumes (10 × 100-m vs 20 × 100-m) are compared, sRPE and internal load are higher in 20 × 100-m bouts. When maintaining constant volume, sRPE and internal load (20 × 100-m, 10 × 200-m, and 5 × 400-m) are higher only in 5 × 400-m bouts. The coach’s and swimmers’ sRPE differed in 10 × 200-m and 5 × 400-m.
These results indicate that sRPE in swimming is affected not only by intensity but also by volume and repetition distance. In addition, swimmers’ and the coach’s sRPE were different when longer repetition distances were used during training sessions. Therefore, care should be taken when prescribing swimming sessions with longer volume and/or longer repetition distances.