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Determination and validity of critical velocity as an index of swimming performance in the competitive swimmer.

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Laboratory of Motor Behavioral Education, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Osaka University, Japan.


The purpose of this investigation was to test whether the concept of critical power used in previous studies could be applied to the field of competitive swimming as critical swimming velocity (vcrit). The vcrit, defined as the swimming velocity over a very long period of time without exhaustion, was expressed as the slope of a straight line between swimming distance (dlim) at each speed (with six predetermined speeds) and the duration (tlim). Nine trained college swimmers underwent tests in a swimming flume to measure vcrit at those velocities until the onset of fatigue. A regression analysis of dlim on tlim calculated for each swimmer showed linear relationships (r2 greater than 0.998, P less than 0.01), and the slope coefficient signifying vcrit ranged from 1.062 to 1.262 m.s-1 with a mean of 1.166 (SD 0.052) m.s-1. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), oxygen consumption (VO2) at anaerobic threshold, and the swimming also velocity at the onset of blood lactate accumulation (vOBLA) were also determined during the incremental swimming test. The vcrit showed significant positive correlations with VO2 at anaerobic threshold (r = 0.818, P less than 0.01), vOBLA (r = 0.949, P less than 0.01) and mean velocity of 400 m freestyle (r = 0.864, P less than 0.01). These data suggested that vcrit could be adopted as an index of endurance performance in competitive swimmers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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