Monitoring the lactate threshold in world-ranked swimmers

D. B. Pyne, H. Lee, K. M. Swanwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To determine whether lactate profiling could detect changes in discrete aspects of endurance fitness in world-ranked swimmers during a season. Methods: Eight male and four female Australian National Team swimmers aged 20-27 yr undertook a 7 × 200-m incremental swimming step test on four occasions over an 8-month period before the 1998 Commonwealth Games (CG): January (10 d before the World Championships), May (early-season camp), July (midseason), and August (16 d before the CG). The lactate threshold (LT) was determined by a mathematical formula that calculated the threshold as a function of the slope and y-intercept of the lactate-velocity curve. Results: Maximal 200-m test time declined initially from 127.7 4.2 s (January 1998) to 130.2 ± 4.5 s (May 1998) and 129.1 ± 4.3 s (July 1998) before improving to 126.8 ± 4.2 s (August 1998) (P < 0.005). The swimming velocity at LT (s.100 m-1) also declined midseason before improving before the CG (P < 0.02) (January 1998:70.5 ± 2.1; May 1998:72.0 ± 2.2; July 1998:72.2 ± 2.2; and August 1998:70.8 ± 2.1). The blood lactate concentration at the LT decreased (P < 0.02) from 3.6 ± 0.2 mM to 3.2 ± 0.1 mM and 2.9 ± 0.2 mM before returning to 3.4 ± 0.2 mM for January, May, July, and August, respectively. The lactate tolerance rating (LT5-10), defined as the differential velocity between lactate concentrations of 5.0 and 10.0 mM, declined midway through the season (P < 0.015): 6.6 ± 0.5 s.100 m-1 7.7 ± 0.5 s.100 m-1, 8.5 ± 0.5 s.100 m-1, and 6.9 ± 0.4 s.100 m-1, for January, May, July, and August, respectively. Despite these improvements in indicators of fitness, there was no significant improvement in competition performance across the season. Conclusions: Maximal effort 200-m time, lactate tolerance rating, and swimming velocity at LT (s.100 m-1) all improved in world-ranked swimmers with training but these changes were not directly associated with competition performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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