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Huub M. Toussaint and Martin Truijens

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Huub M. Toussaint, Michiel de Looze, Bas Van Rossem, Marijke Leijdekkers and Hans Dignum

In this study the relationship between morphological data and active drag, as measured on the MAD system (system to measure active drag), and the effect of a 2.5-year period of growth was examined in a group of children (mean age at the start of the study, 12.9 years). During this period the children showed a mean increase in height from 1.52 to 1.69 m, and in weight from 40.0 to 54.7 kg. Also the body cross-sectional area (Ap), previously reported to relate strongly to drag in a group of adult swimmers, showed an increase in size of 16%. However, the drag did not change; the mean drag force for all subjects swimming at 1.25 m•s−1 was 30.1 N (±2.37) in 1985 and 30.8 N (±4.50) in 1988. The increase in height resulted in a decrease in the Froude Number (Fr) and hence in a decrease in wave-making resistance. Furthermore, form indices derived from ship-building technology demonstrated changes that indicated a more streamlined body form. Therefore it was concluded that during growth a complex process takes place in which different factors determining drag, such as height, body shape (Cd), and Ap, change in directions, having opposite effects on drag.

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Danielle P. Formosa, Huub M. Toussaint, Bruce R. Mason and Brendan Burkett

The measurement of active drag in swimming is a biomechanical challenge. This research compared two systems: (i) measuring active drag (MAD) and (ii) assisted towing method (ATM). Nine intermediate-level swimmers (19.7 ± 4.4 years) completed front crawl trials with both systems during one session. The mean (95% confidence interval) active drag for the two systems, at the same maximum speed of 1.68 m/s (1.40–1.87 m/s), was significantly different (p = .002) with a 55% variation in magnitude. The mean active drag was 82.3 N (74.0–90.6 N) for the MAD system and 148.3 N (127.5–169.1 N) for the ATM system. These differences were attributed to variations in swimming style within each measurement system. The inability to measure the early catch phase and kick, along with the fixed length and depth hand place requirement within the MAD system generated a different swimming technique, when compared with the more natural free swimming ATM protocol. A benefit of the MAD system was the measurement of active drag at various speeds. Conversely, the fixed towing speed of the ATM system allowed a natural self-selected arm stroke (plus kick) and the generation of an instantaneous force-time profile.

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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


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.


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.


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).


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.