Brief Swimming Review Volume 1 Edition 1

Brief Swimming Review Volume 1 Edition 1

Dr. GJohn Mullen Blog, Competition, Training 1 Comment

If you enjoy this brief swimming review, consider supporting and purchasing the Swimming Science Research Review. 

All 200-m strokes Result in Similar Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue 
Inspiratory muscle fatigue (IMF) has been suggested as a contributor to fatigue in swimming. Now, Lomax et al (2013) have concluded IMF is similar across the four competitive strokes during a 200-meter race.

“Inspiratory muscle fatigue was evident after each 200-m swim (p < 0.05) but did not differ between the 4 strokes (range 18-21%) … These results demonstrate that IMF occurs in response to 200-m race-paced swimming in all strokes and that the magnitude of IMF is similar between strokes when breathing is ad libitum occurring no less than 1 breath (inhalation) every third stroke (Lomax 2013).”

Remember, breathe as much as you want, as long as it doesn’t increase your energy expenditure and/or impede your horizontal velocity.

Swimming Warm-down; Land Warm-down
Lomax (2013) has been busy! Another study suggests either coach or individual based swimming warm-down reduces blood lactate greater than land-based warm-down.

“The results of the present study suggest that it does not matter whether a self-paced continuous steady rate swimming velocity or a swimming recovery consisting of various strokes, intensities and rest intervals is adopted as a recovery activity. As both swimming recoveries removed more blood lactate than the land-based recovery, swimmers should, therefore, be advised to undertake a swimming-based recovery rather than a land-based recovery (Lomax 2013)”.

‘Perfect’ Swimming Warm-down

Body Size and Glide Efficiency
Body size and gliding efficiency are commonly associated in swimming. Glide efficiency is essential, as drag is the largest inhibitor of horizontal velocity aka the more drag, the slower you go! In this study,

“[e]ight male and eight female swimmers performed a series of horizontal glides at a depth of 70 cm below the surface. Glide efficiency parameters were calculated for velocities ranging from 1.4 to 1.6 m/s for female swimmers (and at the Reynolds number of 3.5 million) and from 1.6 to 1.8 m/s for male swimmers (and at the Reynolds number of 4.5 million) (Naemi 2013)”.

The results suggest:

“glide coefficient was significantly correlated to the chest to waist taper index for both gender groups. For the male group, the glide coefficient correlated significantly to the fineness ratio of upper body, the chest to hip cross-section. For the female group the glide coefficient had a significant correlation with the waist to hip taper index. The findings suggested that gliding efficiency was more dependent on shape characteristics and appropriate postural angles rather than being dependent on size characteristics (Naemi 2013).”

Instead of body size ratios may be more important for swimming speed. However, analysis of these parameters during actual swimming, not gliding are necessary before recommendations are warranted.


Added Resistance Does Not Alter Freestyle Biomechanics?
Previous work (Maglischio) has suggested added resistance to swimming alters biomechanics. In this study,

“[e]ight female swimmers swam 25 m with maximal intensity, with and without added resistance. A bowl with a capacity of 2.2, 4 and 6 L was used as low, moderate and high added resistance, respectively. The underwater motion of the swimmer’s right hand was recorded using 4 cameras (60 Hz) and the digitization was undertaken using the Ariel Performance Analysis System (Gourgoulis 2013).”

Gourgoulis 2013 indicated added resistance does not alter the velocity of the hand, pitch of the sweepback angles, and magnitude of drag or lift.

Despite this, more research is indicated as Dr. Rushall suggested in a article review:
“[w]hether or not the change in force direction offered by resisted swimming does beneficially influence free swimming needs to be assessed.”

Elite Swimmers Deficient in Zinc 
Zinc is an essential mineral in the body. Yet, evidence out of San Pablo Brazil indicates elite swimmers may have a deficiency in Zn, noted by the low Zn hemoglobin levels (Giolo De Carvalho 2013).

Having appropriate levels of minerals in the hemoglobin (and potentially the cells, yet testing is still too preliminary) is essential. Low Zn can result in an impaired immune system and alter motor control!

Vertical Buoyancy is Unimportant! 
Barbosa (2012) looked at the correlation between vertical buoyancy and the prone gliding test and swimming velocity. The results found vertical buoyancy was unrelated to any swimmer parameters, but the prone gliding test had correlation between all the swimming variables analyzed except horizontal velocity!

Remember, static positional gliding (with or without horizontal velocity) are far from swimming! This is likely why these positions have little correlations with horizontal velocity.

Power Training Does Not Improve Youth Men Swimming Performance
The role of strength training in swimming is a never ending debate. However, a recent study looked at power training (circuit training in my eyes) and swimming success and noted no improvements in swimming following this type of training (Sadowski 2012).

However, these 14-year-old boys did have an improvement in tethered swimming…but is this important?

Also, Exhaustive Resistance Training Alters Joint Biomechanics, keep this in mind when designing an appropriate dry-land program. If you need some direction, check out COR’s team consulting.

Catch Phase is a Static Motion? 
During an isometric contraction, muscles typically contraction on each side of the joint (co-contraction) which prevents movement. A recent EMG study found in swimming, the catch phase resulted in similar levels of contraction in the elbow flexors and extensors suggesting an isometric contraction (Lauer 2013).  Remember, the body moves past a stable arm, at least this is what this implies.

That is it for today, enjoy Women’s NCAA and if you like this review, leave a comment!


  1. Lauer J, Figueiredo P, Vilas-Boas JP, Fernandes RJ, Rouard AH.Phase-dependence of elbow muscle coactivation in front crawl swimming.J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2013 Mar 9.
  2. Sadowski J, Mastalerz A, Gromisz W, NiŸnikowski T.Effectiveness of the power dry-land training programmes in youth swimmers.  J Hum Kinet. 2012 May;32:77-86. doi: 10.2478/v10078-012-0025-5. Epub 2012 May 30.
  3. Barbosa TM, Costa MJ, Morais JE, Moreira M, Silva AJ, Marinho DA.
    How Informative are the Vertical Buoyancy and the Prone Gliding Tests to Assess Young Swimmers’ Hydrostatic and Hydrodynamic Profiles? J Hum Kinet. 2012 May;32:21-32. doi: 10.2478/v10078-012-0020-x. Epub 2012 May 30.
  4. Giolo De Carvalho F, Rosa FT, MarquesMiguel Suen V, Freitas EC, Padovan GJ, Marchini JS. Evidence of zinc deficiency in competitive swimmers. Nutrition. 2012 Nov-Dec;28(11-12):1127-31. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.02.012.
  5. Gourgoulis V, Aggeloussis N, Mavridis G, Boli A, Kasimatis P, Vezos N, Toubekis A, Antoniou P, Mavrommatis G. Acute effect of front crawl sprint resisted swimming on the propulsive forces of the hand. J Appl Biomech. 2013 Feb;29(1):98-104.
  6. Naemi R, Psycharakis SG, McCabe C, Connaboy C, Sanders RH. Relationships between glide efficiency and swimmers’ size and shape characteristics.J Appl Biomech. 2012 Aug;28(4):400-11. Epub 2011 Nov 14.
  7. Lomax M. The effect of three recovery protocols on blood lactate clearance after race-paced swimming. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2771-6.
  8. Lomax M, Iggleden C, Tourell A, Castle S, Honey J. Inspiratory muscle fatigue after race-paced swimming is not restricted to the front crawl stroke. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2729-33.

Comments 1

  1. Great post! Definitely some excellent info to keep in mind. I think it just depends on what you would like more personally when it comes to choosing. Thanks for sharing!

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