Blood Lactate Concentration and Clearance in Elite Swimmers During Competition

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Blood lactate concentration, [BLa], after swimming events might be influenced by demographic features and characteristics of the swim race, whereas active recovery enhances blood lactate removal. Our aims were to (1) examine how sex, age, race distance, and swim stroke influenced [BLa] after competitive swimming events and (2) develop a practical model based on recovery swim distance to optimize blood lactate removal.


We retrospectively analyzed postrace [BLa] from 100 swimmers who competed in the finals at the Canadian Swim Championships. [BLa] was also assessed repeatedly during the active recovery. Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the relationship between postrace [BLa] with independent variables.


Postrace [BLa] was highest following 100–200 m events and lowest after 50 and 1500 m races. A sex effect for postrace [BLa] was observed only for freestyle events. There was a negligible effect of age on postrace [BLa]. A model was developed to estimate an expected change in [BLa] during active recovery (male = 0; female = 1): [BLa] change after active recovery = –3.374 + (1.162 × sex) + (0.789 × postrace [BLa]) + (0.003 × active recovery distance).


These findings indicate that swimmers competing at an elite standard display similar postrace [BLa] and that there is little effect of age on postrace [BLa] in competitive swimmers aged 14 to 29 y.

Jason D. Vescovi is with the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and the School of Kine-siology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Canada. Olesya Falenchuk is with the Ontario Institute of Secondary Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Greg D. Wells is with the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and the Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.