The aims of this study were to compare drag in swimming children and adults, quantify technique using the technique drag index (TDI), and use the Froude number (Fr) to study whether children or adults reach hull speed at maximal velocity (v max). Active and passive drag was measured by the perturbation method and a velocity decay method, respectively, including 9 children aged 11.7 ± 0.8 and 13 adults aged 21.4 ± 3.7. The children had significantly lower active (k AD) and passive drag factor (k PD) compared with the adults. TDI (k AD/k PD) could not detect any differences in swimming technique between the two groups, owing to the adults swimming maximally at a higher Fr, increasing the wave drag component, and masking the effect of better technique. The children were found not to reach hull speed at v max, and their Fr were 0.37 ± 0.01 vs. the adults 0.42 ± 0.01, indicating adults’ larger wave-making component of resistance at v max compared with children. Fr is proposed as an evaluation tool for competitive swimmers.
Per-Ludvik Kjendlie and Robert Keig Stallman
Bjørn Harald Olstad, Christoph Zinner, João Rocha Vaz, Jan M.H. Cabri and Per-Ludvik Kjendlie
To investigate the muscle-activation patterns and coactivation with the support of kinematics in some of the world’s best breaststrokers and identify performance discriminants related to national elites at maximal effort.
Surface electromyography was collected in 8 muscles from 4 world-class (including 2 world champions) and 4 national elite breaststroke swimmers during a 25-m breaststroke at maximal effort.
World-class spent less time during the leg recovery (P = .043), began this phase with a smaller knee angle (154.6° vs 161.8°), and had a higher median velocity of 0.18 m/s during the leg glide than national elites. Compared with national elites, world-class swimmers showed a difference in the muscle-activation patterns for all 8 muscles. In the leg-propulsion phase, there was less triceps brachii activation (1 swimmer 6% vs median 23.0% [8.8]). In the leg-glide phase, there was activation in rectus femoris and gastrocnemius during the beginning of this phase (all world-class vs only 1 national elite) and a longer activation in pectoralis major (world champions 71% [0.5] vs 50.0 [4.3]) (propulsive phase of the arms). In the leg-recovery phase, there was more activation in biceps femoris (50.0% [15.0] vs 20.0% [14.0]) and a later and quicker activation in tibialis anterior (40.0% [7.8] vs 52.0% [6.0]). In the stroke cycle, there was no coactivation in tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius for world champions.
These components are important performance discriminants. They can be used to improve muscle-activation patterns and kinematics through the different breaststroke phases. Furthermore, they can be used as focus points for teaching breaststroke to beginners.
Brice Guignard, Bjørn H. Olstad, David Simbaña Escobar, Jessy Lauer, Per-Ludvik Kjendlie and Annie H. Rouard
To investigate electromyographical (EMG) profiles characterizing the lower-limb flexion-extension in an aquatic environment in high-level breaststrokers.
The 2-dimensional breaststroke kick of 1 international- and 2 national-level female swimmers was analyzed during 2 maximal 25-m swims. The activities of biceps femoris, rectus femoris, gastrocnemius, and tibialis anterior were recorded.
The breaststroke kick was divided in 3 phases, according to the movements performed in the sagittal plane: push phase (PP) covering 27% of the total kick duration, glide phase (GP) 41%, and recovery phase (RP) 32%. Intrasubject reproducibility of the EMG and kinematics was observed from 1 stroke cycle to another. In addition, important intersubject kinematic reproducibility was noted, whereas muscle activities discriminated the subjects: The explosive Pp was characterized by important muscle-activation peaks. During the recovery, muscles were likewise solicited for swimmers 1 (S1) and 2 (S2), while the lowest activities were observed during GP for S2 and swimmer 3 (S3), but not for S1, who maintained major muscle solicitations.
The main muscle activities were observed during PP to perform powerful lower-limb extension. The most-skilled swimmer (S1) was the only 1 to solicit her muscles during GP to actively reach better streamlining. Important activation peaks during RP correspond to the limbs acting against water drag. Such differences in EMG strategies among an elite group highlight the importance of considering the muscle parameters used to effectively control the intensity of activation among the phases for a more efficient breaststroke kick.
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.