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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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Kelly de Jesus, Karla de Jesus, Pedro A. Figueiredo, Pedro Gonçalves, João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

We aimed to analyze the effects of fatigue on kinematical parameters during submaximal and maximal butterfly. Seven female swimmers performed two randomized 100-m butterfly bouts, at submaximal velocity and at maximal velocity in 25-m pool. During the 1st and 4th laps of each 100 m, kinematic data were recorded by two video cameras (above and below water) on the sagittal plane. Velocity, stroke length, stroke frequency, intracyclic horizontal velocity variation, horizontal and vertical displacements of the hand and foot and stroke phases’ duration were computed for each stroke cycle. Velocity, stroke length, stroke frequency were lower for 4th than 1st lap, at both intensities. Dropped elbow and foot vertical amplitude of 1st and 2nd downbeats were higher for 4th than 1st lap, at both intensities. At submaximal and maximal intensity, swimmers spent more time during push and recovery phases. At submaximal intensity, swimmers experienced fewer difficulties to cope with fatigue between 1st and 4th lap, which allowed the maintenance of intracyclic velocity variation. However, at maximal intensity, swimmers were probably more fatigued and, as a consequence, less mechanically efficient, showing an increase in intracyclic velocity variation.

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Tiago M. Barbosa, Kelly de Jesus, J. Arturo Abraldes, João Ribeiro, Pedro Figueiredo, João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Background:

The assessment of energetic and mechanical parameters in swimming often requires the use of an intermittent incremental protocol, whose step lengths are corner stones for the efficiency of the evaluation procedures.

Purpose:

To analyze changes in swimming kinematics and interlimb coordination behavior in 3 variants, with different step lengths, of an intermittent incremental protocol.

Methods:

Twenty-two male swimmers performed n × d i variants of an intermittent and incremental protocol (n ≤ 7; d 1 = 200 m, d 2 = 300 m, and d 3 = 400 m). Swimmers were videotaped in the sagittal plane for 2-dimensional kinematical analysis using a dualmedia setup. Video images were digitized with a motion-capture system. Parameters that were assessed included the stroke kinematics, the segmental and anatomical landmark kinematics, and interlimb coordination. Movement efficiency was also estimated.

Results:

There were no significant variations in any of the selected variables according to the step lengths. A high to very high relationship was observed between step lengths. The bias was much reduced and the 95%CI fairly tight.

Conclusions:

Since there were no meaningful differences between the 3 protocol variants, the 1 with shortest step length (ie, 200 m) should be adopted for logistical reasons.

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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.