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  • Author: Raul Arellano x
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Ana Gay, Gracia López-Contreras, Ricardo J. Fernandes and Raúl Arellano

Purpose: To observe changes in performance, physiological, and general kinematic variables induced by the use of wetsuits vs swimsuits in both swimming-pool and swimming-flume conditions. Methods: In a randomized and counterbalanced order, 33 swimmers (26.46 [11.72] y old) performed 2 × 400-m maximal front crawl in a 25-m swimming pool (with wetsuit and swimsuit), and their mean velocities were used later in 2 swimming-flume trials with both suits. Velocity, blood lactate concentration, heart rate (HR), Borg scale (rating of perceived exertion), stroke rate, stroke length (SL), stroke index, and propelling efficiency were evaluated. Results: The 400-m performance in the swimming pool was 0.07 m·s−1 faster when using the wetsuit than when using the swimsuit, evidencing a reduction of ∼6% in time elapsed (P < .001). Maximal HR, maximal blood lactate concentration, rating of perceived exertion, stroke rate, and propelling efficiency were similar when using both swimsuits, but SL and stroke index presented higher values with the wetsuit in both the swimming pool and the swimming flume. Comparing swimming conditions, maximal HR and maximal blood lactate concentration were lower, and SL, stroke index, and propelling efficiency were higher when swimming in the flume than when swimming in the pool with both suits. Conclusions: The 6% velocity improvement was the result of an increase of 4% in SL. Swimmers reduced stroke rate and increased SL to benefit from the hydrodynamic reduction of the wetsuit and increase their swimming efficiency. Wetsuits might be utilized during training seasons to improve adaptations while swimming.

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Jesús J. Ruiz-Navarro, Pedro G. Morouço and Raúl Arellano

Purpose: To study the relationship between tethered swimming in a flume at different speeds and swimming performance. Methods: Sixteen regional-level swimmers performed 25-, 50-, and 100-m front-crawl trials and four 30-s tethered-swimming tests at 0, 0.926, 1.124, and 1.389 m·s−1 water-flow velocities. Average and maximum force, average and maximum impulse, and intracyclic force variation (dF) were estimated for each tethered-swimming trial. Swimming velocity and intracyclic velocity variation (dv) were obtained for each free-swimming trial. Stroke rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were registered for all trials. Results: Tethered-swimming variables, both at 1.124 m·s−1 and at 1.389 m·s−1 water-flow velocities, were positively associated with 25-m swimming velocity (P < .05). Average force and maximum impulse in stationary swimming were significantly associated with 25-m swimming velocity (P < .05). A positive relationship between water-flow velocities with dF was observed. Swimming performance was not related to dF or dv. Neither stroke rate nor RPE differed between the 4 tethered conditions and mean 50-m free-swimming velocity (P > .05). Conclusions: Measuring force in a swimming flume at higher water-flow velocities is a better indicator of performance than stationary tethered swimming. It enables assessment of the ability to effectively apply force in the water.

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Pedro G. Morouço, Tiago M. Barbosa, Raul Arellano and João P. Vilas-Boas

Context: In front-crawl swimming, the upper limbs perform alternating movements with the aim of achieving a continuous application of force in the water, leading to lower intracyclic velocity variation (dv). This parameter has been identified as a crucial criterion for swimmers’ evaluation. Purpose: To examine the assessment of intracyclic force variation (dF) and to analyze its relationship with dv and swimming performance. Methods: A total of 22 high-level male swimmers performed a maximal-effort 50-m front-crawl time trial and a 30-s maximal-effort fully tethered swimming test, which were randomly assigned. Instantaneous velocity was obtained by a speedometer and force by a strain-gauge system. Results: Similarity was observed between the tests, with dF attaining much higher magnitudes than dv (P < .001; d = 8.89). There were no differences in stroke rate or in physiological responses between tethered and free swimming, with a high level of agreement for the stroke rate and blood lactate increase. Swimming velocity presented a strong negative linear relationship with dF (r = −.826, P < .001) and a moderate negative nonlinear relationship with dv (r = .734, P < .01). With the addition of the maximum impulse to dF, multiple-regression analysis explained 83% of the free-swimming performance. Conclusions: Assessing dF is a promising approach for evaluating a swimmer’s performance. From the experiments, this new parameter showed that swimmers with higher dF also present higher dv, leading to a decrease in performance.