How to Measure Swimming Force to Predict Sprint Swimming Performance

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What is the best way to predict sprint swimming performance? Many coaches rely on test sets, pace work, past performances, and mid-season taper meets. But is there another way?

This study provides us with an alternative way to measure force and anaerobic capacity to predict sprint swimming performance

This proposed method is low-cost, easy to perform and can be done in only 3-minutes in any pool (even those small hotel pools). You interested?

Read below for the review of the study, Relationships among the Tethered 3-min All-Out Test, MAOD and Swimming Performance. 

Keywords You Should Know:

MAOD: The Maximal Accumulated Oxygen Deficit is considered to be a valid tool for estimating anaerobic capacity.

Tethered Swimming: Swimming with a stretch cord attached between the swimmer’s hips and the side of the pool. This anchors the swimmer so that they stay in relatively the same place.

Study Purpose:

To determine the relationship between a tethered 3-min all-out tethered performance and:

  1. MAOD
  2. Short/middle distance performances

What They Did:

  1. 9 swimmers (age 19 ± 1 years) participated in the study
  2. Each swimmer underwent the following:
    • Body composition measurements
    • Tethered swimming graded exercise test to determine the force at VO2peak
      • Force measurements were obtained with a dynamometer attached to the elastic cord
    • Three tethered swimming sessions at sub-maximal efforts
    • Tethered swimming exhaustive effort (at previously established VO2peak)
    • Tethered swimming 3-minute all-out test
    • Free swimming timed 50, 100 and 200 m performances

What They Found:

The most significant findings were:

  1. Peak force (PF) is the only variable that exhibited a direct relationship to MAOD
  2. The following variables exhibited an inverse relationship to short/middle performances. In other words, higher values corresponded to faster swimming times.
    • Mean force
    • Mean force until 150 seconds
    • Total impulse
    • MAOD
  3. There is no relationship between peak force (PF) and short/middle performances.

Take Away Points

The findings suggest that the 3-minute all-out, tethered test is a cost-effective, low equipment way of predicting short/middle distance swimming performance. Give it a try!

A dynamometer is not required to measure force. Other studies indicate that there is a linear relationship between the force measured by dynamometer and the distance the swimmer maintains from the start point. In other words, you can estimate swimming force by tracking the distance from the start point that the swimmer maintains throughout the test.

The significance of the findings are limited by a small sample size.

Reseach Abstract

“To allow the use of the 3-min all-out parameters for anaerobic evaluation, the aim of the present study was to test its relationships to maximal accumulated oxygen deficit (MAOD) and short/middle distance performances. 9 swimmers (age 19 ± 1 years, height 176.7 ± 6.1 cm and body mass 68.7 ± 6.1 kg) underwent a 3-min all-out test and MAOD procedures (10 submaximal efforts and one exhaustive effort at maximal force attained during a graded exercise test); both were applied using tethered swimming conditions. Short/middle free-swimming performances were assessed at 50, 100 and 200 m distances. Only the peak force (PF) attained during 3-min all-out test exhibited a direct relationship to MAOD (r = 0.77; p = 0.02). Mean force, mean force until 150 s and total impulse, which were obtained during the 3-min all-out test, exhibited inverse relationship to short/middle performances (r > –0.79; p < 0.02). However, no relationship was observed between PF and performances. In addition, MAOD exhibited an inverse relationships to all performances (r > –0.72; p < 0.04). Thus, the present study demonstrated that only PF can be used to evaluate the anaerobic metabolism and most of the 3-min all-out test parameters are dependent on force maintenance capacity, which is also important in short/middle performance.”

  1. Kalva-Filho CA, Zagatto AM, da Silva AS, Castanho MY, Gobbi RB, Gobatto CA, Papoti M. Relationships among the Tethered 3-min All-Out Test, MAOD and Swimming Performance. Int J Sports Med. 2017; 38: 353–358.








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