Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Comparison of Blood Lactate Levels between Swimming in Clothes and a Swimsuit. (Research Note-Physiology)

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Comparison of Blood Lactate Levels between Swimming in Clothes and a Swimsuit. (Research Note-Physiology)

Article excerpt

Key words: ammonia, epinephrine, stroke frequency, swimming velocity


It is known that swimmers, swimming at the same speed, consume more oxygen when swimming fully clothed than when wearing a traditional swimsuit (Andersen, 1960). An increase in energy consumption when swimming while wearing clothes probably results from increased water resistance, which hinders movement of the arms and legs (Keatinge, 1961). In Japan, more people drown when wearing clothes than when wearing a swimsuit. In 1998, police officials reported that 1,200 people drowned in Japan; 25% of them drowned wearing a swimsuit, and the other 75% drowned wearing clothes while doing activities such as fishing, boating, or working near the water. The increased physical exertion required when swimming while wearing clothes may have been a factor in their deaths. The difference between the energy costs of swimmers wearing clothes versus those not wearing clothes has not been fully investigated.

It is generally accepted that the energy supply for short-term, high-intensity exercise originates from stored adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and high-energy phosphagen breakdown, which would cause an increase in blood ammonia concentration (Dudley & Terjung, 1985; Itoh & Ohkuwa, 1990; Lowenstein, 1972). However, there are no reports on the differences in swimming performance and energy supply of individuals swimming wearing clothes and those wearing a traditional swimsuit. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to compare swimming speed and blood lactate levels for individuals swimming in clothes or a swimsuit using two different strokes (crawl stroke and breaststroke).



The participants for this experiment were 6 moderately trained male swimmers who swam using either crawl stroke or breaststroke. The purpose and protocol of the study and the possible risks were fully explained to each participant before they signed an informed consent document. All participants swam in either a swimsuit typically used by competitive swimmers or in shirts, pants, and shoes (clothes). Swimsuits and clothes were provided to participants for this experiment. The age, height, and weight of the participants were as follows: M age = 19.2 years, SD = 0.9; M height = 170.9 cm, SD = 4.3; and Mweight 61.2 kg, SD = 5.0. Participants' mean body mass index (BMI) was 19.83, SD = 2.2. The water temperature during the experiment was 29.3 [+ or -] 0.5[degrees]C.

Experimental Protocol

All participants were tested at the same time of day. Each participant did two swimming tests in a 25-in swimming pool after 30 min of warming up. The warming up consisted of stretching exercises for 10 mm and swimming at a self-selected pace for 20 mm. The participants were instructed to push off from the end of the pool without diving. For each test, the participants were asked to swim as fast as they could for 60 s either in a swimsuit or in clothes. All testing was performed in randomized order. Each testing session was separated by a minimum of 3 days. The 60-s swimming distance for each participant was timed with a stopwatch and measured with a tape measure. Stroke frequency, expressed as the number of complete arm cycles per minute, was measured by a videotape recorder (CCD TR2NTSC, Sony, Tokyo, Japan).

The distance per stroke was calculated from the measured total distance covered and the stroke frequency during each 60-s swimming test. On completing the swim, the participants left the pool, dried, and immediately laid in the supine position on a bed for blood sampling. To obtain venous blood, a 21-gauge butterfly needle with a sampling vinyl tube was inserted into the antecubital vein. While participants were at rest, blood samples (3 ml) were obtained using disposable syringes at intervals of 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, and 15 min during recovery. To protect against coagulation of blood, 0. …

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