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Roberto Baldassarre, Cristian Ieno, Marco Bonifazi, and Maria Francesca Piacentini

Purpose: The sensation of fatigue experienced at a certain point of the race is an important factor in the regulation of pacing. The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is considered one of the main mediators utilized by athletes to modify pacing. The aim was to analyze the relationship between pacing and RPE of elite open water swimmers during national indoor pool championships. Methods: A total of 17 elite open water swimmers (males, n = 9; females, n = 8) agreed to provide RPE every 500 m during the finals of the national championships 5-km indoor pool race. Time splits, stroke rate, and RPE were collected every 500 m. The Hazard score was calculated by multiplying the momentary RPE by the remaining fraction of the race. Athletes were placed in one of two categories: medalists or nonmedalists. For all variables, separate mixed analysis of variances (P ≤ .05) with repeated measures were used considering the splits (ie, every 500 m) as within-subjects factor and the groups (ie, medalists and nonmedalists) as between-subjects factor. Results: Average swimming speed showed a significant main effect for split for both males and females (P < .001). A significant interaction was observed between average swimming speed and groups for females (P = .032). RPE increased in both groups (P < .001) with no difference observed between groups. However, the female nonmedalists showed a disproportionate nonlinear increase in RPE (5.20 [2.31]) halfway through the event that corresponded to the point where they started significantly decreasing speed. Conclusions: The results of the present study show different pacing strategies adopted by medalists and nonmedalists despite a similar RPE.

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Cristian Ieno, Roberto Baldassarre, Maddalena Pennacchi, Antonio La Torre, Marco Bonifazi, and Maria Francesca Piacentini

Purpose: To analyze training-intensity distribution (TID) using different independent monitoring systems for internal training load in a group of elite open-water swimmers. Methods: One hundred sixty training sessions were monitored in 4 elite open-water swimmers (2 females and 2 males: 23.75 [4.86] y, 62.25 [6.18] kg, 167 [6.68] cm) during 5 weeks of regular training. Heart-rate-based methods, such as time in zone (TIZ), session goal (SG), and hybrid (SG/TIZ), were used to analyze TID. Similarly to SG/TIZ, a new hybrid approach, the rating of perceived exertion (RPE)/TIZ for a more accurate analysis of TID was used. Moreover, based on the 3-zone model, the session ratings of perceived exertion of the swimmers and the coach were compared. Results: Heart-rate- and RPE-based TID methods were significantly different in quantifying Z1 (P = .012; effect size [ES] = 0.490) and Z2 (P = .006; ES = 0.778), while no difference was observed in the quantification of Z3 (P = .428; ES = 0.223). The heart-rate-based data for Z1, Z2, and Z3 were 83.2%, 7.4%, and 8.1% for TIZ; 80.8%, 8.3%, and 10.8% for SG/TIZ; and 55%, 15.6%, and 29.4% for SG. The RPE-based data were 70.9%, 19.9%, and 9.2% for RPE/TIZ% and 41.2%, 48.9%, and 9.7% for the session rating of perceived exertion. No differences were observed between the coach’s and the swimmers’ session ratings of perceived exertion in the 3 zones (Z1: P = .663, ES = −0.187; Z2: P = .110, ES = 0.578; Z3: P = .149, ES = 0.420). Conclusion: Using RPE-based TID methods, Z2 was significantly larger compared with Z1. These results show that RPE-based TID methods in elite open-water swimmers are affected by both intensity and volume.