Analysis of the competition programmes of elite and sub-elite swimmers: The influence of sex, stroke and race distance

Karen Johns*, Peter Philipson, Cormac Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

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The purpose of this study was to analyse contemporary performance data in elite and sub-elite Irish swimmers, to explore the number of days and races required for swimmers to achieve their fastest competitive performances and how this may be influenced by sex, stroke, and race distance. The initial dataset consisted of n=3,930 observations on n=56 swimmers, with n1=2,709 (68.9%) long course (LC) observations and n2=1,221 (31.1%) short course (SC) observations. The main findings indicated that, firstly, the swimmers (LC & SC) produced their fastest swim in their first race of the season, approximately 39% of the time. Secondly, there was no significant differences between male and female swimmers regarding the number of days and races required to achieve their fastest performances. The final key finding identified the number of days and races between first and fastest performance was influenced by a) stroke, for example., LC and SC freestyle and individual medley swimmers required less races and shorter timeframes to fastest swim, with breaststroke requiring the greatest number of mean days in LC and SC formats and b) race distance, for example, across LC and SC, 400m swimmers required fewer races (n=1.83 & 1.64) and shorter time frame (n=24.83 & 21.26) to fastest swim than other distances. These findings are valuable to coaches and practitioners, as a) they can provide guidelines when designing competition programmes, and b) support exploration of what a swimmer’s competition may look like in terms of volume and duration to support the fastest performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
Early online date19 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Dec 2023

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