A Novel Method to Characterize the Pacing Profile of Elite Male 1500-m Freestyle Swimmers

Katie E McGibbon, David B Pyne, Laine E Heidenreich, Robin Pla

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    PURPOSE: Pacing, or the distribution of energy expenditure, is particularly important in swimming; however, there is limited research examining pacing profiles in long-distance freestyle events. This study aimed to characterize the pacing profiles of elite male 1500-m freestyle swimmers using a novel method to provide a detailed analysis of different race segments. METHODS: The race data for 327 male 1500-m freestyle long-course races between 2010 and 2019 were analyzed retrospectively. The raw 50-m split times for each lap were converted to a percentage of overall race time. The races were classified as a fast-, average-, or slow-start strategy (laps 1-2); as an even, negative, or positive pacing strategy (laps 3-28); and as a fast-, average-, or slow-finish strategy (laps 29-30) to give an overall pacing profile. RESULTS: Slow- and average-start strategies were associated with faster overall 1500-m times than a fast-start strategy (mean = -21.2 s; 90% confidence interval, -11.4 to -32.3 s, P = .00). An even pacing strategy in laps 3 to 28 yielded faster overall 1500-m times than a positive pacing strategy (-8.4 s, -3.9 to -13.0 s, P = .00). The overall 1500-m times did not differ substantially across the finish strategies (P = .99). The start strategy differed across age groups and nationalities, where younger swimmers and swimmers from Australia and Great Britain typically spent a lower percentage of race time in laps 1 to 2 (faster start strategy; -0.10%, -0.01% to -0.23%, P ≤ .02). CONCLUSION: Adopting a relatively slower start strategy helps conserve energy for the latter stages of a 1500-m freestyle race.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)818-824
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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