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Jorge E. Morais, António J. Silva, Daniel A. Marinho, Vítor P. Lopes and Tiago M. Barbosa

Purpose:

To develop a performance predictor model based on swimmers’ biomechanical profile, relate the partial contribution of the main predictors with the training program, and analyze the time effect, sex effect, and time × sex interaction.

Methods:

91 swimmers (44 boys, 12.04 ± 0.81 y; 47 girls, 11.22 ± 0.98 y) evaluated during a 3-y period. The decimal age and anthropometric, kinematic, and efficiency features were collected 10 different times over 3 seasons (ie, longitudinal research). Hierarchical linear modeling was the procedure used to estimate the performance predictors.

Results:

Performance improved between season 1 early and season 3 late for both sexes (boys 26.9% [20.88;32.96], girls 16.1% [10.34;22.54]). Decimal age (estimate [EST] –2.05, P < .001), arm span (EST –0.59, P < .001), stroke length (EST 3.82; P = .002), and propelling efficiency (EST –0.17, P = .001) were entered in the final model.

Conclusion:

Over 3 consecutive seasons young swimmers’ performance improved. Performance is a multifactorial phenomenon where anthropometrics, kinematics, and efficiency were the main determinants. The change of these factors over time was coupled with the training plans of this talent identification and development program.

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Vishveshwar R. Mantha, António J. Silva, Daniel A. Marinho and Abel I. Rouboa

The aim of the current study was to analyze the hydrodynamics of three kayaks: 97-kg-class, single-rower, flatwater sports competition, full-scale design evolution models (Nelo K1 Vanquish LI, LII, and LIII) of M.A.R. Kayaks Lda., Portugal, which are among the fastest frontline kayaks. The effect of kayak design transformation on kayak hydrodynamics performance was studied by the application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The steady-state CFD simulations where performed by application of the k-omega turbulent model and the volume-of-fluid method to obtain two-phase flow around the kayaks. The numerical result of viscous, pressure drag, and coefficients along with wave drag at individual average race velocities was obtained. At an average velocity of 4.5 m/s, the reduction in drag was 29.4% for the design change from LI to LII and 15.4% for the change from LII to LIII, thus demonstrating and reaffirming a progressive evolution in design. In addition, the knowledge of drag hydrodynamics presented in the current study facilitates the estimation of the paddling effort required from the athlete during progression at different race velocities. This study finds an application during selection and training, where a coach can select the kayak with better hydrodynamics.

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Tiago M. Barbosa, Mário Costa, Daniel A. Marinho, Joel Coelho, Marc Moreira and António J. Silva

The aim was to develop a path-flow analysis model for young swimmers’ performance based on biomechanical and energetic parameters, using structural equation modeling. Thirty-eight male young swimmers served as subjects. Performance was assessed by the 200-m freestyle event. For biomechanical assessment the stroke length, the stroke frequency and the swimming velocity were analyzed. Energetics assessment included the critical velocity, the stroke index and the propulsive efficiency. The confirmatory model explained 79% of swimming performance after deleting the stroke index-performance path, which was nonsignificant (SRMR = 0.06). As a conclusion, the model is appropriate to explain performance in young swimmers.

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Jorge E. Morais, António J. Silva, Daniel A. Marinho, Ludovic Seifert and Tiago M. Barbosa

Purpose:

To apply a new method to identify, classify, and follow up young swimmers based on their performance and its determinant factors over a season and analyze the swimmers’ stability over a competitive season with that method.

Methods:

Fifteen boys and 18 girls (11.8 ± 0.7 y) part of a national talent-identification scheme were evaluated at 3 different moments of a competitive season. Performance (ie, official 100-m freestyle race time), arm span, chest perimeter, stroke length, swimming velocity, speed fluctuation, coefficient of active drag, propelling efficiency, and stroke index were selected as variables. Hierarchical and k-means cluster analysis were computed.

Results:

Data suggested a 3-cluster solution, splitting the swimmers according to their performance in all 3 moments. Cluster 1 was related to better performances (talented swimmers), cluster 2 to poor performances (nonproficient swimmers), and cluster 3 to average performance (proficient swimmers) in all moments. Stepwise discriminant analysis revealed that 100%, 94%, and 85% of original groups were correctly classified for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd evaluation moments, respectively (0.11 ≤ Λ ≤ 0.80; 5.64 ≤ χ2 ≤ 63.40; 0.001 < P ≤ .68). Membership of clusters was moderately stable over the season (stability range 46.1–75% for the 2 clusters with most subjects).

Conclusion:

Cluster stability is a feasible, comprehensive, and informative method to gain insight into changes in performance and its determinant factors in young swimmers. Talented swimmers were characterized by anthropometrics and kinematic features.

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Alexandra Laurent, Annie Rouard, Vishveshwar R. Mantha, Daniel A. Marinho, Antonio J. Silva and Abel I. Rouboa

The distribution of pressure coefficient formed when the fluid contacts with the kayak oar blade is not been studied extensively. The CFD technique was employed to calculate pressure coefficient distribution on the front and rear faces of oar blade resulting from the numerical resolution equations of the flow around the oar blade in the steady flow conditions (4 m/s) for three angular orientations of the oar (45°, 90°, 135°) with main flow. A three-dimensional (3D) geometric model of oar blade was modeled and the kappa-epsilon turbulence model was applied to compute the flow around the oar. The main results reported that, under steady state flow conditions, the drag coefficient (Cd = 2.01 for 4 m/s) at 90° orientation has the similar evolution for the different oar blade orientation to the direction of the flow. This is valid when the orientation of the blade is perpendicular to the direction of the flow. Results indicated that the angle of oar strongly influenced the Cd with maximum values for 90° angle of the oar. Moreover, the distribution of the pressure is different for the internal and external edges depending upon oar angle. Finally, the difference of negative pressure coefficient Cp in the rear side and the positive Cp in the front side, contributes toward propulsive force. The results indicate that CFD can be considered an interesting new approach for pressure coefficient calculation on kayak oar blade. The CFD approach could be a useful tool to evaluate the effects of different blade designs on the oar forces and consequently on the boat propulsion contributing toward the design improvement in future oar models. The dependence of variation of pressure coefficient on the angular position of oar with respect to flow direction gives valuable dynamic information, which can be used during training for kayak competition.

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Jorge E. Morais, Sérgio Jesus, Vasco Lopes, Nuno Garrido, António Silva, Daniel Marinho and Tiago M. Barbosa

The aim of this study was to develop a structural equation model (i.e., a confirmatory technique that analyzes relationships among observed variables) for young swimmer performance based on selected kinematic, anthropometric and hydrodynamic variables. A total of 114 subjects (73 boys and 41 girls of mean age of 12.31 ± 1.09 years; 47.91 ± 10.81 kg body mass; 156.57 ± 10.90 cm height and Tanner stages 1–2) were evaluated. The variables assessed were the: (i) 100 [m] freestyle performance; (ii) stroke index; (iii) speed fluctuation; (iv) stroke distance; (v) active drag; (vi) arm span and; (vii) hand surface area. All paths were significant (p < .05). However, in deleting the path between the hand surface area and the stroke index, the model goodness-of-fit significantly improved. Swimming performance in young swimmers appeared to be dependent on swimming efficiency (i.e., stroke index), which is determined by the remaining variables assessed, except for the hand surface area. Therefore, young swimmer coaches and practitioners should design training programs with a focus on technical training enhancement (i.e., improving swimming efficiency).

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Tiago M. Barbosa, Jorge E. Morais, Mário J. Costa, José Goncalves, Daniel A. Marinho and António J. Silva

The aim of this article has been to classify swimmers based on kinematics, hydrodynamics, and anthropometrics. Sixty-seven young swimmers made a maximal 25 m front-crawl to measure with a speedometer the swimming velocity (v), speed-fluctuation (dv) and dv normalized to v (dv/v). Another two 25 m bouts with and without carrying a perturbation device were made to estimate active drag coefficient (CD a). Trunk transverse surface area (S) was measured with photogrammetric technique on land and in the hydrodynamic position. Cluster 1 was related to swimmers with a high speed fluctuation (ie, dv and dv/v), cluster 2 with anthropometrics (ie, S) and cluster 3 with a high hydrodynamic profile (ie, CD a). The variable that seems to discriminate better the clusters was the dv/v (F = 53.680; P < .001), followed by the dv (F = 28.506; P < .001), CD a (F = 21.025; P < .001), S (F = 6.297; P < .01) and v (F = 5.375; P = .01). Stepwise discriminant analysis extracted 2 functions: Function 1 was mainly defined by dv/v and S (74.3% of variance), whereas function 2 was mainly defined by CD a (25.7% of variance). It can be concluded that kinematics, hydrodynamics and anthropometrics are determinant domains in which to classify and characterize young swimmers’ profiles.

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Henrique P. Neiva, Mario C. Marques, Ricardo J. Fernandes, João L. Viana, Tiago M. Barbosa and Daniel A. Marinho

Purpose:

To investigate the effect of warm-up on 100-m swimming performance.

Methods:

Twenty competitive swimmers (with a training frequency of 8.0 ± 1.0 sessions/wk) performed 2 maximal 100-m freestyle trials on separate days, with and without prior warm-up, in a counterbalanced and randomized design. The warm-up distance totaled 1000 m and replicated the swimmers’ usual precompetition warm-up strategy. Performance (time), physiological (capillary blood lactate concentrations), psychophysiological (perceived exertion), and biomechanical variables (distance per stroke, stroke frequency, and stroke index) were assessed on both trials.

Results:

Performance in the 100-m was fastest in the warm-up condition (67.15 ± 5.60 vs 68.10 ± 5.14 s; P = .01), although 3 swimmers swam faster without warm-up. Critical to this was the 1st 50-m lap (32.10 ± 2.59 vs 32.78 ± 2.33 s; P < .01), where the swimmers presented higher distance per stroke (2.06 ± 0.19 vs. 1.98 ± 0.16 m; P = .04) and swimming efficiency compared with the no-warm-up condition (stroke index 3.46 ± 0.53 vs 3.14 ± 0.44 m2 · c−1 · s−1; P < .01). Notwithstanding this better stroke-kinematic pattern, blood lactate concentrations and perceived exertion were similar between trials.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that swimmers’ usual warm-up routines lead to faster 100-m freestyle swimming performance, a factor that appears to be related to better swimming efficiency in the 1st lap of the race. This study highlights the importance of performing swimming drills (for higher distance per stroke) before a maximal 100-m freestyle effort in similar groups of swimmers.

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Daniel A. Marinho, Tiago M. Barbosa, Victor M. Reis, Per L. Kjendlie, Francisco B. Alves, João P. Vilas-Boas, Leandro Machado, António J. Silva and Abel I. Rouboa

The main aim of this study was to investigate the effect of finger spread on the propulsive force production in swimming using computational fluid dynamics. Computer tomography scans of an Olympic swimmer hand were conducted. This procedure involved three models of the hand with differing finger spreads: fingers closed together (no spread), fingers with a small (0.32 cm) spread, and fingers with large (0.64 cm) spread. Steady-state computational fluid dynamics analyses were performed using the Fluent code. The measured forces on the hand models were decomposed into drag and lift coefficients. For hand models, angles of attack of 0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°, with a sweep back angle of 0°, were used for the calculations. The results showed that the model with a small spread between fingers presented higher values of drag coefficient than did the models with fingers closed and fingers with a large spread. One can note that the drag coefficient presented the highest values for an attack angle of 90° in the three hand models. The lift coefficient resembled a sinusoidal curve across the attack angle. The values for the lift coefficient presented few differences among the three models, for a given attack angle. These results suggested that fingers slightly spread could allow the hand to create more propulsive force during swimming.

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Daniel A. Marinho, Victor M. Reis, Francisco B. Alves, João P. Vilas-Boas, Leandro Machado, António J. Silva and Abel I. Rouboa

This study used a computational fluid dynamics methodology to analyze the effect of body position on the drag coefficient during submerged gliding in swimming. The k-epsilon turbulent model implemented in the commercial code Fluent and applied to the flow around a three-dimensional model of a male adult swimmer was used. Two common gliding positions were investigated: a ventral position with the arms extended at the front, and a ventral position with the arms placed along side the trunk. The simulations were applied to flow velocities of between 1.6 and 2.0 m·s−1, which are typical of elite swimmers when gliding underwater at the start and in the turns. The gliding position with the arms extended at the front produced lower drag coefficients than with the arms placed along the trunk. We therefore recommend that swimmers adopt the arms in front position rather than the arms beside the trunk position during the underwater gliding.