Swimming Energy Calculator

OttrLoggr: Energy Use Calculator

Swim Energy Usage


RER Value Guide

Slow (0.7)
A1 band - warm-up, recovery, cool-down sets
Moderate (0.85)
A2 band - aerobic capacity sets
Intense (1.00)
A3 band - aerobic power, VO2max sets

Data Source: Zamparo P, Bonifazi M (2013). Bioenergetics of cycling sports activities in water.

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

Freestyle data

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Energy Systems in Swimming

Associating energy systems with the set, workout, season, and race are essential for optimizing race performance. Most swimming races utilize multiple energy systems with an emphasis on the anaerobic system, but realize the anaerobic system is not the sole system. The amount of contribution from each energy system is essential to understand to provide the correct volume of training in these energy systems. This will provide your athlete’s with the tools to maximize race performance.

A 2004 study looked at the alterations during a 400-meter freestyle. Laffite 2004 took seven male swimmers with an average 400-meter free time of 4:15 and looked at energy system and biomechanical differences with race differences.

First they had each athlete perform a 100, 200, and 300-meter freestyle and analyzed the differences between these distances and the 400-meter freestyle. Blood lactate was significantly higher in the 400-meter freestyle compared to the other three distances. These researchers hypothesized:

"The estimated contribution of anaerobic metabolism (EsCANA) during the first 100-m and the 400-m represented 45 % and 20 % of total energy output, respectively."

The swimmers experienced a U-curve in stroke rate, starting high at the beginning of the race, decreasing, and then increasing at the end. On the other hand, stroke length steadily decreased throughout the race.

These findings are not ground-breaking, but interesting to note the amount of total energy utilized during the race. Do you correlate the amount of anaerobic training with the race duration for your swimmers? It is important to correlate the volume of training specific to the energy systems used in the race.

This concept is more important in elite athletes with a focused stroke and race distance. Specializing youth swimmers will provide acute benefits, but potentially limit their versatility. For more information read, Anaerobic Capacity in Swimmers and Duration Specific Training: Sprints.


  1. Laffite LP, Vilas-Boas JP, Demarle A, Silva J, Fernandes R, Billat VL. Can J Appl Physiol. 2004;29 Suppl:S17-31. Changes in physiological and stroke parameters during a maximal 400-m free swimming test in elite swimmers.
By Dr. G. John Mullen, DPT, CSCS. He is the founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club.