Purpose: A bioenergetical analysis of different exercise modes near maximal oxygen consumption (VO 2max) intensity is scarce, hampering the prescription of training to enhance performance. We assessed the time sustained in swimming, rowing, running, and cycling at an intensity eliciting VO 2max and determined the specific oxygen uptake (VO 2) kinetics and total energy expenditure (E tot-tlim). Methods: Four subgroups of 10 swimmers, 10 rowers, 10 runners, and 10 cyclists performed (i) an incremental protocol to assess the velocity (vVO 2max) or power (wVO 2max) associated with VO 2max and (ii) a square wave transition exercise from rest to vVO 2max/wVO 2max to assess the time to voluntary exhaustion (Tlim-100%VO 2max). The VO 2 was measured using a telemetric portable gas analyzer (K4b 2, Cosmed, Rome, Italy) and VO 2 kinetics analyzed using a double exponential curve fit. E tot-tlim was computed as the sum of its three components: aerobic (Aer), anaerobic lactic (Ana lac), and anaerobic alactic (Ana alac) contributions. Results: No differences were evident in Tlim-100% VO 2max between exercise modes (mean ± SD: swimming, 187 ± 25; rowing, 199 ± 52; running, 245 ± 46; and cycling, 227 ± 48 s). In contrast, the VO 2 kinetics profile exhibited a slower response in swimming (21 ± 3 s) compared with the other three modes of exercise (rowing, 12 ± 3; running, 10 ± 3; and cycling, 16 ± 4 s) (P ± 0.001). E tot-tlim was similar between exercise modes even if the Ana lac contribution was smaller in swimming compared with the other sports (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Although there were different VO 2 kinetics and ventilatory patterns, the Tlim-100%VO 2max was similar between exercise modes most likely related to the common central and peripheral level of fitness in our athletes.