An exercise bout completed several hours prior to an event may improve competitive performance later that same day.
To examine the influence of morning exercise on afternoon sprint-swimming performance.
Thirteen competitive swimmers (7 male, mean age 19 ± 3 y; 6 female, mean age 17 ± 3 y) completed a morning session of 1200 m of varied intensity swimming (SwimOnly), a combination of varied-intensity swimming and a resistance-exercise routine (SwimDry), or no morning exercise (NoEx). After a 6-h break, swimmers completed a 100-m time trial.
Time-trial performance was faster in SwimOnly (1.6% ± 0.6, mean ± 90% confidence limit, P < .01) and SwimDry (1.7% ± 0.7%, P < .01) than in NoEx. Split times for the 25- to 50-m distance were faster in both SwimOnly (1.7% ± 1.2%, P = .02) and SwimDry (1.5% ± 0.8%, P = .01) than in NoEx. The first 50-m stroke rate was higher in SwimOnly (0.70 ± 0.21 Hz, mean ± SD, P = .03) and SwimDry (0.69 ± 0.18 Hz, P = .05) than in NoEx (0.64 ± 0.16 Hz). Before the afternoon session, core (0.2°C ± 0.1°C [mean ± 90% confidence limit], P = .04), body (0.2°C ± 0.1°C, P = .02), and skin temperatures (0.3°C ± 0.3°C, P = .02) were higher in SwimDry than in NoEx.
Completion of a morning swimming session alone or together with resistance exercise can substantially enhance sprint-swimming performance completed later the same day.
This study suggests that a morning swim session or a combination of morning swim and dryland session may improve sprinting performance later that day. In this study, the swim session consisted of 1200 m of variable intensity plus drills, turns and start work. The combination group performed the 1200 m, rested 10 minutes then completed 10 m of dryland including: 10 m running sprints, tuck jumps, handstand pushups and med ball throw downs. Practicing a similar protocol with swimmers at meets in the form of an early morning wake up swim/mini strength session may enhance the athlete’s performance later that day.
Practical Application by: Erin Cameron DPT
Bio: In 4th grade, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up Dr. Erin Cameron, DPT replied “physical therapist,” a rather unconventional response for a child that age. She was a young swimmer with shoulder pain, desperate to return the to sport that she loved so dearly. The dedication of her physical therapist allowed her to pursue her passion and eventually go on to compete at the collegiate level. While swimming at the University of Michigan she studied to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Movement Science from the School of Kinesiology. During her collegiate swimming career, she earned the following accolades: two-time CSCAA Honorable Mention Scholar All-American, three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, team captain and the Michigan Leadership Academy Leader of Distinction award.
Erin has dedicated much of her life to the sport of swimming. In addition to competing in the sport for 15 years, she has coached at various elite swim camps and clinics growing her expertise in stroke technique and video critique. She has also served as a volunteer staff member for Division I, II and III swim programs aiding in both coaching and developing exercise programs/educational sessions for upper extremity injury prevention.
Erin received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. During her time in physical therapy school, she developed a special interest in treating patients with a broad range of orthopedic injuries and promoting general health and wellness.
1. McGowan CJ, Pyne DB, Thompson KG, Raglin JS, Rattray B. Morning Exercise: Enhancement of Afternoon Sprint-Swimming Performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2017 May;12(5):605-611.