Physical performance determinants in competitive youth swimmers: a systematic review

Price, Todd ORCID: 0000-0002-6380-0625, Cimadoro, Giuseppe and S Legg, Hayley ORCID: 0000-0002-4995-2091 (2024) Physical performance determinants in competitive youth swimmers: a systematic review. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 16 (1). Art 20. doi:10.1186/s13102-023-00767-4

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Background: Youth swimming performance is determined by several physiological, biomechanical and anthropometric characteristics. This review aimed to identify physical performance determinants of youth swimming performance, assessing strength, power, anaerobic, aerobic and body composition measures. ̇ Methods: Searches were conducted in electronic databases (PubMed and Web of Science) using keywords relating to swimming and physiological measures, supplemented by citation searching of similar reviews. A total of 843 studies were identified in the initial search. The following inclusion criteria were used: participants were competitive/trained swimmers; swimming time-trial or event was conducted; data was provided on one or more physiological parameters; study was published in English and peer-reviewed. A total of 43 studies met the inclusion criteria. Risk of bias was assessed using Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) checklist. Results: Cross-sectional studies scored between 4–8 and randomised-controlled trials scored 8–9 on their respective JBI checklists. Youth swimming performance was determined by muscle strength, muscle power, lean body mass, anaerobic and aerobic metabolism measures in most studies, where improved performance values of these variables were conducive to swimming performance. Body fat percentage did not have a clear relationship in youth swimming performance. Conclusions: Findings of this review suggest that greater levels of muscle strength, muscle power and lean body mass are favourable in swimming performance, with muscle strength and muscle power particularly beneficial for start and turn performance. Anaerobic and aerobic metabolism measures were good determinants of swimming performance, with middle- and long-distance events more influenced by the latter. Body fat percentage has a nuanced relationship with swimming performance, where further investigation is required. Findings were inconsistent across studies, potentially due to unidentified confounding factors. Key points: • Greater muscular strength and power qualities, anaerobic and aerobic capacities, and lean body mass are conducive to swimming performance. • Body fat percentage has a nuanced relationship with swimming performance. • Practitioners should consider general strength and power training as a useful tool to enhance performance in their youth competitors.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aerobic; Power; Body composition; Strength; Water sports; Anaerobic
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
Q Science > QP Physiology > QP301.H75 Physiology. Sport
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
SWORD Depositor: Pubrouter
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2024 15:50
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 10:45

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