The aims of this study were to determine the effect of age, sex and race distance on velocity (v), stroke rate (SR), stroke length (SL) and stroke index (SI) of subelite adolescent swimmers in competition, and to investigate their pacing strategies during the 100-m and 200-m events. Video footage of 112 adolescent swimmers (56 female; 56 male), competing in the 100-m and 200-m freestyle events, in two age groups (12–14; 15–18 years) was recorded and subsequently analyzed. A MANOVA showed that all stroke parameters significantly differed between sexes and between race distances. The older adolescents had a higher v, a longer SL and a greater SI (p < .01) than the younger adolescents. There were significant interaction effects between age and sex for v, SL and SI. Most adolescents had a SL that was within 7% of that reported for 1992 Olympians, but had up to 16% lower SRs. Separate Friedman’s ANOVAs showed that SL differed between successive race quarters for both age groups, both sexes and both race distances. It is likely that physical immaturity, inexperience in competition pacing and within-race fatigue strongly influence the performances of subelite adolescent front crawl swimmers.
Shilo Dormehl and Conor Osborough
Shilo J. Dormehl, Samuel J. Robertson, Alan R. Barker, and Craig A. Williams
To evaluate the efficacy of existing performance models to assess the progression of male and female adolescent swimmers through a quantitative and qualitative mixed-methods approach.
Fourteen published models were tested using retrospective data from an independent sample of Dutch junior national-level swimmers from when they were 12–18 y of age (n = 13). The degree of association by Pearson correlations was compared between the calculated differences from the models and quadratic functions derived from the Dutch junior national qualifying times. Swimmers were grouped based on their differences from the models and compared with their swimming histories that were extracted from questionnaires and follow-up interviews.
Correlations of the deviations from both the models and quadratic functions derived from the Dutch qualifying times were all significant except for the 100-m breaststroke and butterfly and the 200-m freestyle for females (P < .05). In addition, the 100-m freestyle and backstroke for males and 200-m freestyle for males and females were almost directly proportional. In general, deviations from the models were accounted for by the swimmers’ training histories. Higher levels of retrospective motivation appeared to be synonymous with higher-level career performance.
This mixed-methods approach helped confirm the validity of the models that were found to be applicable to adolescent swimmers at all levels, allowing coaches to track performance and set goals. The value of the models in being able to account for the expected performance gains during adolescence enables quantification of peripheral factors that could affect performance.