The aim of the current study was to observe the changes in performance, physiological and general kinematical variables induced by the wetsuit vs swimsuit use in both swimming pool and swimming flume conditions.
Following a randomized and counterbalanced order, 33 swimmers (26.46±11.72 years old) performed 2x400m maximal front crawl in a 25m swimming pool (with wetsuit and swimsuit) and its mean velocities were used afterwards in two swimming flume trials with both suits. Velocity, blood lactate concentrations ([La-]), heart rate (HR), Borg scale (RPE), stroke rate (SR), stroke length (SL), stroke index (SI) and propelling efficiency (ηp) were evaluated.
Swimming pool 400m performance was 0.07m·s-1 faster when using the wetsuit than swimsuit, evidencing a reduction of ~6% in time performed (p<0.001). HRmax, [La-]max, RPE, SR and ηp were similar when using both swimsuits but SL and SI presented higher values with the wetsuit both in swimming pool and swimming flume. Comparing swimming conditions, HRmax and [La-]max were lower, and SL, SI and ηp were higher, while swimming in the flume than in the pool both with wet and swimsuit.
The 6% velocity improvement was the result of an increase of 4% in SL. Swimmers reduced SR and increased SL to benefit from the hydrodynamic reduction of the wetsuit and increase the swimming efficiency. The wetsuit might be utilized during the training seasons to improve the adaptations while swimming.