Competition Day Strategies To Enhance Sprint Swimming Performance

Courtney J. McGowan, David B. Pyne, Kevin G. Thompson, John S. Raglin, Mark Osborne, Ben Rattray

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Purpose: To determine the effect of additional warm-ups and same-day priming bouts upon sprint swimming performance. Methods: In study 1, 22 elite freestyle swimmers completed a standardized pool warm-up followed by a 30 min transition and a 100 m freestyle time-trial. During transition, swimmers wore a conventional tracksuit and remained seated (Control) or wore a tracksuit jacket with integrated heating elements and performed a 5 min dryland exercise routine (Combo). Elite breaststroke swimmers (n=10) repeated the study using tracksuit pants with integrated heat elements in Combo (study 2). In study 3, morning priming bouts consisting of no exercise (NoEx), swimming (SwimOnly) or swimming and dryland exercise (SwimDry) were investigated to ascertain the effect on afternoon sprint performance (6.5 hr later; n=13). Results: Freestyle swimmers yielded faster start (1.5% ± 1.0%, mean ± 90% confidence limits, p = 0.02) and 100 m time-trial (0.8% ± 0.4%, p = 0.00) performances with Combo compared to Control. Core temperature (Tcore) declined less during transition (-0.2°C ± 0.1°C vs -0.5°C ± 0.1°C, p = 0.02) and total local haemoglobin concentration (tHb) was greater (36µM ± 25µM, mean ± SD; p = 0.00) pre-time-trial in Combo compared to Control. Breaststroke performance was not faster (p = 0.55) and Tcore decline within transition similar in Combo compared to Control (-0.1 ± 0.2°C vs -0.3 ± 0.2°C; p = 0.36). Afternoon time-trials were faster in SwimOnly (1.6% ± 0.6%, p = 0.00) and SwimDry (1.7% ± 0.7%; p = 0.00) and Tcore was higher (0.2 ± 0.2°C; p = 0.04) pre-afternoon session in SwimDry compared to NoEx. Conclusions: Heated garments and dryland-based activation exercises employed within lengthy transitions can yield substantial benefits (~0.8%) to elite sprint freestyle 100 m time-trial performance but not in breaststroke. Attenuation in the decline of Tcore and augmented tHb appear as likely mechanisms. Completion of a morning priming swim alone or in combination with dryland exercise can yield additional performance benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-497
Number of pages2
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number5S
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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