The aim of this study was to develop a structural equation model (i.e., a confirmatory technique that analyzes relationships among observed variables) for young swimmer performance based on selected kinematic, anthropometric and hydrodynamic variables. A total of 114 subjects (73 boys and 41 girls of mean age of 12.31 ± 1.09 years; 47.91 ± 10.81 kg body mass; 156.57 ± 10.90 cm height and Tanner stages 1–2) were evaluated. The variables assessed were the: (i) 100 [m] freestyle performance; (ii) stroke index; (iii) speed fluctuation; (iv) stroke distance; (v) active drag; (vi) arm span and; (vii) hand surface area. All paths were significant (p < .05). However, in deleting the path between the hand surface area and the stroke index, the model goodness-of-fit significantly improved. Swimming performance in young swimmers appeared to be dependent on swimming efficiency (i.e., stroke index), which is determined by the remaining variables assessed, except for the hand surface area. Therefore, young swimmer coaches and practitioners should design training programs with a focus on technical training enhancement (i.e., improving swimming efficiency).
Morais and Jesus are with the Research Centre in Health, Sports, and Human Development, Vila Real, Portugal. Lopes and Garrido are with the Dept. of Sport Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Marinho is with the Dept. of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal. Barbosa is with the Physical Education and Sport Science Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.