Energy cost of swimming of elite long-distance swimmers

P. Zamparo, M. Bonifazi, M. Faina, A. Milan, F. Sardella, F. Schena, C. Capelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was: (1) to assess the energy cost of swimming (Cs, kJ km-1) in a group of male (n=5) and female (n=5) elite swimmers specialised in long-distance competitions; (2) to evaluate the possible effect of a 2-km trial on the absolute value of Cs. Cs was assessed during three consecutive 400-m trials covered in a 50-m pool at increasing speeds (v1, v2, v3). After these experiments the subjects swam a 2-km trial at the 10-km race speed (v2km) after which the three 400-m trials were repeated at the same speed as before (v5=v1, v6=v2, v7 =v3). Cs was calculated by dividing the net oxygen uptake at steady state (V̇O2ss) by the corresponding average speed (v, m s-1). V̇O2ss was estimated by using back extrapolation technique from breath-to-breath V̇O2 recorded during the first 30 s of recovery after each test. Cs increased (from 0.69 kJ m-1 to 1.27 kJ m-1) as a function of v (from 1.29 m s-1 to 1.50 m s-1), its values being comparable to those measured in elite short distance swimmers at similar speeds. In both groups of subjects the speed maintained during the 2-km trial (v2km) was on the average only 1.2% faster than of v2 and v6 (P>0.05), whereas Cs assessed at the end of the 2-km trial (v2km) turned out to be 21±26% larger than that assessed at v2 and v6 (P-1) during the 2-km trial turned to be about 6% (P2 and v6. At v5, Cs turned out to be 19±9% (P1 in male and female subjects (respectively). SF was significantly faster (P5 and v6 than at v1 and v2. These data suggest that the increase of Cs found after the 2-km trial was likely related to a decrease in propelling efficiency, since the latter is related to the distance per stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-704
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • Distance per stroke
  • Energy cost of swimming
  • Lactate
  • Long-distance swimming
  • Oxygen uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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