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  • Author: Francisco Alves x
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Pedro Figueiredo, Renata Willig, Francisco Alves, João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Purpose:

To examine the effect of swimming speed (v) on the biomechanical and physiological responses of a trained front-crawl swimmer with a unilateral arm amputation.

Methods:

A 13-y-old girl with a unilateral arm amputation (level of the elbow) was tested for stroke length (SL, horizontal displacement cover with each stroke cycle), stroke frequency (SF, inverse of the time to complete each stroke cycle), adapted index of coordination (IdCadapt, lag time between propulsive phases), intracycle velocity variation (IVV, coefficient of variation of the instantaneous velocity–time data), active drag (D, hydrodynamic resistance), and energy cost (C, ratio of metabolic power to speed) during trials of increasing v.

Results:

Swimmer data showed a positive relationship between v and SF (R 2 = 1, P < .001), IVV (R 2 = .98, P = .002), D (R 2 = .98, P < .001), and C (R 2 = .95, P = .001) and a negative relationship with the SL (R 2 = .99, P = .001). No relation was found between v and IdCadapt (R 2 = .35, P = .22). A quadratic regression best fitted the relationship between v and general kinematical parameters (SL and SF); a cubic relationship fit the IVV best. The relationship between v and D was best expressed by a power regression, and the linear regression fit the C and IdCadapt best.

Conclusions:

The subject’s adaptation to increased v was different from able-bodied swimmers, mainly on interarm coordination, maintaining the lag time between propulsive phases, which influence the magnitude of the other parameters. These results might be useful to develop specific training and enhance swimming performance in swimmers with amputations.

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Ana F. Silva, Pedro Figueiredo, João Ribeiro, Francisco Alves, João Paulo Vilas-Boas, Ludovic Seifert and Ricardo J. Fernandes

To analyze young swimmers’ performance regarding sex and skill level, 23 boys and 26 girls (15.7 ± 0.8 and 14.5 ± 0.8 years old, respectively) were assessed for anthropometry, flexibility, strength, drag, coordination, and biomechanical variables. During a 50-m maximal front-crawl bout, seven aerial and six underwater Qualisys cameras assessed kinematics, and a load cell was used to measure drag (Tedea, United Kingdom) and tethered swimming force. A multivariate analysis of variance test (p < .05) enabled us to observe differences between skill levels in speed, stroke frequency, stroke index, and intracyclic velocity variations, but most relevant differences were noticed when comparing sexes, particularly for anthropometrics, shoulder flexibility, speed, stroke frequency, stroke length, drag, mechanical power, power per stroke, and maximal and mean force. Considering the included variables, only male swimmers’ performance could be predicted through multiple linear regression, with stroke index, left shoulder flexion, and intracycle velocity variations showing great importance in achieving better results.

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Joana F. Reis, Gregoire P. Millet, Davide Malatesta, Belle Roels, Fabio Borrani, Veronica E. Vleck and Francisco B. Alves

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to compare VO2 kinetics during constant power cycle exercise measured using a conventional facemask (CM) or a respiratory snorkel (RS) designed for breath-by-breath analysis in swimming.

Methods:

VO2 kinetics parameters—obtained using CM or RS, in randomized counterbalanced order—were compared in 10 trained triathletes performing two submaximal heavy-intensity cycling square-wave transitions. These VO2 kinetics parameters (ie, time delay: td1, td2; time constant: τ1, τ2; amplitude: A1, A2, for the primary phase and slow component, respectively) were modeled using a double exponential function. In the case of the RS data, this model incorporated an individually determined snorkel delay (ISD).

Results:

Only td1 (8.9 ± 3.0 vs 13.8 ± 1.8 s, P < .01) differed between CM and RS, whereas all other parameters were not different (τ1 = 24.7 ± 7.6 vs 21.1 ± 6.3 s; A1 = 39.4 ± 5.3 vs 36.8 ± 5.1 mL·min−1·kg−1; td = 107.5 ± 87.4 vs 183.5 ± 75.9 s; A2' (relevant slow component amplitude) = 2.6 ± 2.4 vs 3.1 ± 2.6 mL·min−1·kg−1 for CM and RS, respectively).

Conclusions:

Although there can be a small mixture of breaths allowed by the volume of the snorkel in the transition to exercise, this does not appear to significantly influence the results. Therefore, given the use of an ISD, the RS is a valid instrument for the determination of VO2 kinetics within submaximal exercise.

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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.

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João Ribeiro, Argyris G. Toubekis, Pedro Figueiredo, Kelly de Jesus, Huub M. Toussaint, Francisco Alves, João P. Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Purpose:

To conduct a biophysical analysis of the factors associated with front-crawl performance at moderate and severe swimming intensities, represented by anaerobic-threshold (vAnT) and maximal-oxygen-uptake (vV̇O2max) velocities.

Methods:

Ten high-level swimmers performed 2 intermittent incremental tests of 7 × 200 and 12 × 25 m (through a system of underwater push-off pads) to assess vAnT, and vV̇O2max, and power output. The 1st protocol was videotaped (3D reconstruction) for kinematic analysis to assess stroke frequency (SF), stroke length (SL), propelling efficiency (η P), and index of coordination (IdC). V̇O2 was measured and capillary blood samples (lactate concentrations) were collected, enabling computation of metabolic power. The 2nd protocol allowed calculating mechanical power and performance efficiency from the ratio of mechanical to metabolic power.

Results:

Neither vAnT nor vV̇O2max was explained by SF (0.56 ± 0.06 vs 0.68 ± 0.06 Hz), SL (2.29 ± 0.21 vs 2.06 ± 0.20 m), η P (0.38 ± 0.02 vs 0.36± 0.03), IdC (–12.14 ± 5.24 vs –9.61 ± 5.49), or metabolic-power (1063.00 ± 122.90 vs 1338.18 ± 127.40 W) variability. vV̇O2max was explained by power to overcome drag (r = .77, P ≤ .05) and η P (r = .72, P ≤ .05), in contrast with the nonassociation between these parameters and vAnT; both velocities were well related (r = .62, P ≤ .05).

Conclusions:

The biomechanical parameters, coordination, and metabolic power seemed not to be performance discriminative at either intensity. However, the increase in power to overcome drag, for the less metabolic input, should be the focus of any intervention that aims to improve performance at severe swimming intensity. This is also true for moderate intensities, as vAnT and vV˙O2max are proportional to each other.

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

The purpose of this study was to analyze the hydrodynamic characteristics of a realistic model of an elite swimmer hand/forearm using three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics techniques. A three-dimensional domain was designed to simulate the fluid flow around a swimmer hand and forearm model in different orientations (0°, 45°, and 90° for the three axes Ox, Oy and Oz). The hand/forearm model was obtained through computerized tomography scans. Steady-state analyses were performed using the commercial code Fluent. The drag coefficient presented higher values than the lift coefficient for all model orientations. The drag coefficient of the hand/forearm model increased with the angle of attack, with the maximum value of the force coefficient corresponding to an angle of attack of 90°. The drag coefficient obtained the highest value at an orientation of the hand plane in which the model was directly perpendicular to the direction of the flow. An important contribution of the lift coefficient was observed at an angle of attack of 45°, which could have an important role in the overall propulsive force production of the hand and forearm in swimming phases, when the angle of attack is near 45°.