Relationship between power and sprint freestyle swimming

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SHARP, RICK L., JOHN P. TROUP, and DAVID L. COSTILL. Relationship between power and sprint freestyle swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exercise, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 53–56, 1982. In an effort to determine the role played by power in sprint swimming, 40 competitive swimmers (22 females and 18 males) were tested for arm power at velocities ranging from 1.60–3.28 m.s-1 using an apparatus that was specifically designed to mimic the arm action during swimming. Measurements were also made to determine the contribution of fatigability to sprint swimming performance. In addition, each swimmer performed a series of 25-yd (22.86 m) freestyle sprints. A close relationship was found between power output and sprint swimming performance (r=0.90). The highest power recordings were obtained at test velocities of 2.05 and 2.66 m.s-1, with the average velocity required for peak power being 2.40 m.s-1. This point is referred to as the optimal velocity. Four detrained swimmers were tested before and after 4 wk of isokinetic strength training only. On the average, performance improved 3.76%, while arm power increased by 18.66%. The fatigability of the competitive swimmers was not related to their sprint ability (r=0.01). It is concluded that power, as measured in this study, offers an objective assessment of a component essential for success in sprint swimming.

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