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Springerplus. 2014 Nov 4;3:652. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-652. eCollection 2014.

Change of the age and performance of swimmers across World Championships and Olympic Games finals from 1992 to 2013 - a cross-sectional data analysis.

Author information

1
Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
2
Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland ; Gesundheitszentrum St. Gallen, Vadianstrasse 26, 9001 St, Gallen, Switzerland.

Abstract

The aims of the present study were to investigate the changes in the age and in swimming performance of finalists in World Championships (1994-2013) and Olympic Games (1992-2012) competing in all events/races (stroke and distance). Data of 3,295 performances from 1,615 women and 1,680 men were analysed using correlation analyses and magnitudes of effect sizes. In the World Championships, the age of the finalists increased for all strokes and distances with exception of 200 m backstroke in women, and 400 m freestyle and 200 m breaststroke in men where the age of the finalists decreased. The magnitudes of the effects were small to very large (mean ± SD 2.8 ± 2.7), but extremely large (13.38) for 1,500 m freestyle in women. In the Olympic Games, the age of the finalists increased for all strokes and distances with exception of 800 m freestyle in women and 400 m individual medley in men. The magnitudes of the effects were small to very large (mean ± SD 4.1 ± 7.1), but extremely large for 50 m freestyle in women (10.5) and 200 m butterfly in men (38.0). Swimming performance increased across years in both women and men for all strokes and distances in both the World Championships and the Olympic Games. The magnitudes of the effects were all extremely large in World Championships (mean ± SD 20.1 ± 8.4) and Olympic Games (mean ± SD 52.1 ± 47.6); especially for 100 m and 200 m breaststroke (198) in women in the Olympic Games. To summarize, in the last ~20 years the age of the finalists increased in both the World Championships and the Olympic Games with some minor exceptions (200 m backstroke in women, 400 m freestyle and 200 m breaststroke in men in World Championships and 800 m freestyle in women and 400 m individual medley in men in Olympic Games) and performance of the finalists improved.

KEYWORDS:

Age; Elite swimmers; Performance; Sex difference

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