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  • Author: João P. Vilas-Boas x
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Pedro G. Morouço, João P. Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Our purpose was to demonstrate that 30-s tethered swimming test can be a useful tool to estimate swimming performance in short distance freestyle events. Thirteen high level adolescent swimmers (7 male and 6 female of16.6 ± 1.0 and 15.8 ± 0.8 years old) performed a 30-s maximum effort in front crawl tethered swimming. Afterward, subjects completed 50-m and 100-m freestyle events at the National Championships. Both maximum and mean force values obtained in the tethered test related directly with 50-m (r = .78 and r = .72, p < .01, respectively) and 100-m freestyle velocities (r = .63 and r = .61, p < .05, respectively). Fatigue index did not present a significant relationship with any of the studied performance variables. However, a proposed parameter—fatigue slope—correlated with 50-m (r=-.75, p < .01), 100-m performances (r=-.57, p < .05) and with r[La] (r=-.90, p < .01). It is concluded that, for adolescent swimmers, values obtained from 30-s tethered test are well related with swimming performance in sprint events. In addition, fatigue slope seems to be more associated with swimming performance in short distance events than fatigue index.

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Ana Sousa, Pedro Figueiredo, David Pendergast, Per-Ludvik Kjendlie, João P. Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Swimming has become an important area of sport science research since the 1970s, with the bioenergetic factors assuming a fundamental performance-influencing role. The purpose of this study was to conduct a critical evaluation of the literature concerning oxygen-uptake (VO2) assessment in swimming, by describing the equipment and methods used and emphasizing the recent works conducted in ecological conditions. Particularly in swimming, due to the inherent technical constraints imposed by swimming in a water environment, assessment of VO2max was not accomplished until the 1960s. Later, the development of automated portable measurement devices allowed VO2max to be assessed more easily, even in ecological swimming conditions, but few studies have been conducted in swimming-pool conditions with portable breath-by-breath telemetric systems. An inverse relationship exists between the velocity corresponding to VO2max and the time a swimmer can sustain it at this velocity. The energy cost of swimming varies according to its association with velocity variability. As, in the end, the supply of oxygen (whose limitation may be due to central—O2 delivery and transportation to the working muscles—or peripheral factors—O2 diffusion and utilization in the muscles) is one of the critical factors that determine swimming performance, VO2 kinetics and its maximal values are critical in understanding swimmers’ behavior in competition and to develop efficient training programs.

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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.

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Ana F. Silva, Pedro Figueiredo, Sara Morais, João P. Vilas-Boas, Ricardo J. Fernandes and Ludovic Seifert

This study aimed to examine young swimmers’ behavioral flexibility when facing different task constraints, such as swimming speed and stroke frequency. Eighteen (five boys and 13 girls) 13- to 15-year-old swimmers performed a 15 × 50-m front crawl with five trials, at 100%, 90%, and 70% each of their 50 m maximal swimming speed and randomly at 90%, 95%, 100%, 105%, and 110% of their preferred stroke frequency. Seven aerial and six underwater cameras were used to assess kinematics (one cycle), with upper-limb coordination computed through a continuous relative phase and index of coordination. A cluster analysis identified six patterns of coordination used by swimmers when facing various speed and stroke frequency constraints. The patterns’ nature and the way the swimmers shifted between them are more important than getting the highest number of patterns (range of repertoire), that is, a change in the motor pattern in order to adapt correctly is more important than being able to execute a great number of patterns.

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Kelly de Jesus, Ross Sanders, Karla de Jesus, João Ribeiro, Pedro Figueiredo, João P. Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Background:

Coaches are often challenged to optimize swimmers’ technique at different training and competition intensities, but 3-dimensional (3D) analysis has not been conducted for a wide range of training zones.

Purpose:

To analyze front-crawl 3D kinematics and interlimb coordination from low to severe swimming intensities.

Methods:

Ten male swimmers performed a 200-m front crawl at 7 incrementally increasing paces until exhaustion (0.05-m/s increments and 30-s intervals), with images from 2 cycles in each step (at the 25- and 175-m laps) being recorded by 2 surface and 4 underwater video cameras. Metabolic anaerobic threshold (AnT) was also assessed using the lactate-concentration–velocity curve-modeling method.

Results:

Stroke frequency increased, stroke length decreased, hand and foot speed increased, and the index of interlimb coordination increased (within a catch-up mode) from low to severe intensities (P ≤ .05) and within the 200-m steps performed above the AnT (at or closer to the 4th step; P ≤ .05). Concurrently, intracyclic velocity variations and propelling efficiency remained similar between and within swimming intensities (P > .05).

Conclusions:

Swimming intensity has a significant impact on swimmers’ segmental kinematics and interlimb coordination, with modifications being more evident after the point when AnT is reached. As competitive swimming events are conducted at high intensities (in which anaerobic metabolism becomes more prevalent), coaches should implement specific training series that lead swimmers to adapt their technique to the task constraints that exist in nonhomeostatic race conditions.

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Susana M. Soares, Ricardo J. Fernandes, J. Leandro Machado, José A. Maia, Daniel J. Daly and João P. Vilas-Boas

Context:

It is essential to determine swimmers’ anaerobic potential and better plan training, understanding physiological effects of the fatigue.

Purpose:

To study changes in the characteristics of the intracyclic velocity variation during an all-out 50-m swim and to observe differences in speed and stroking parameters between these changes.

Methods:

28 competitive swimmers performed a 50-m front-crawl all-out test while attached to a speedometer. The velocity–time (v[t]) curve off all stroke cycles was analyzed per individual using a routine that included a wavelet procedure, allowing the determination of the fatigue thresholds that divide effort in time intervals.

Results:

One or 2 fatigue thresholds were observed at individual level on the v(t) curve. In males, when 1 fatigue threshold was identified, the mean velocity and the stroke index dropped (P < .05) in the second time interval (1.7 ± 0.0 vs 1.6 ± 0.0 m/s and 3.0 ± 0.2 vs 2.8 ± 0.3 m/s, respectively). When 2 fatigue thresholds were identified, the mean velocity of the first time interval was higher than that of the third time interval (P < .05), for both male (1.7 ± 0.0 vs 1.6 ± 0.1 m/s) and female (1.5 ± 0.1 vs 1.3 ± 0.1 m/s) swimmers.

Conclusion:

One or 2 fatigue thresholds were found in the intracyclic velocity-variation patterns. Concurrently, changes in velocity and stroke parameters were also observed between time intervals. This information could allow coaches to obtain new insights into delaying the degenerative effects of fatigue and maintain stable stroke-cycle characteristics over a 50-m event.

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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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Beatriz B. Gomes, Nuno V. Ramos, Filipe A.V. Conceição, Ross H. Sanders, Mário A.P. Vaz and João Paulo Vilas-Boas

In sprint kayaking the role that paddling technique plays in optimizing paddle forces and resultant kayak kinematics is still unclear. The aim of this study was to analyze the magnitude and shape of the paddle force–time curve at different stroke rates, and their implications for kayak performance. Ten elite kayak paddlers (5 males and 5 females) were analyzed while performing 2000-m on-water trials, at 4 different paces (60, 80, and 100 strokes per minute, and race pace). The paddle and kayak were instrumented with strain gauges and accelerometers, respectively. For both sexes, the force–time curves were characterized at training pace by having a bell shape and at race pace by a first small peak, followed by a small decrease in force and then followed by a main plateau. The force profile, represented by the mean force/peak force ratio, became more rectangular with increasing stroke rate (F[3,40] = 7.87, P < .01). To obtain a rectangular shape to maximize performance, kayak paddlers should seek a stronger water phase with a rapid increase in force immediately after blade entry, and a quick exit before the force dropping far below the maximum force. This pattern should be sought when training at race pace and in competition.

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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, 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°.