To evaluate the pacing strategy, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and mood during a 78.1-km solo ultraendurance open-water swim.
Before and after the event, anthropometric parameters, cortisol, and the profile of mood state (POMS) of 1 male athlete (age 48 y, height 172 cm, body mass 68 kg, body fat 7.2%, athletic achievement: Italian record holder of the Channel Swim) were ascertained. Every 3 h during the event, average swimming speed (SS), stroke rate, stroke length (SL), and RPE were recorded.
The athlete completed the event in 23:44 h:min. Compared with the first 3 h of swimming, decreases in SS (−33%) and SL (−25%) were observed between 18 h and 21 h. Thereafter, the athlete increased SS (+41%) and SL (+17%) between 21 h and the end. RPE steadily increased from the beginning to the last 6 h of swimming. Cortisol showed a 23-fold increase. After the event, POMS showed a 500% increase in fatigue, 44% decrease in tension, and 77% decrease in vigor.
For the first time ever an athlete crossed the Adriatic Sea. This case study shows that the athlete adopted a variable pacing strategy to complete 78 km. Despite the athlete perceiving his effort at maximum during the last 6 h, the observed increases in SS at the end of the event might substantiate his high potential motivation to accomplish this challenging and unique event.