Int J Sports Med 1992; 13(5): 367-371
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1021282
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

A Simple Method for Determining Critical Speed as Swimming Fatigue Threshold in Competitive Swimming

K. Wakayoshi1 , T. Yoshida2 , M. Udo2 , T. Kasai3 , T. Moritani4 , Y. Mutoh5 , M. Miyashita5
  • 1Laboratory of Motor Behavioral Education, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560, Japan
  • 2Laboratory of Exercise Physiology, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560, Japan
  • 3Institute of Sports Science, Central Sports Co., LTD., Chiba 272-01, Japan
  • 4Laboratory of Applied Physiology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Kyoto University, kyoto 606, Japan
  • 5Laboratory for Exercise Physiology, Biomechanics and Sports Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113, Japan
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether the concept of the critical power could be applied to competitive swimming by using critical swimming speed (CS) as determined both in the swimming flume (CS-flume) and in the normal swimming pool (CS-pool) and whether CS could be utilized as a practical index for assessing a swimmer's endurance performance. CS defined as the swimming speed which could be theoretically maintained continuously without exhaustion was expressed as the slope of a regression line between swimming distance (D) and its duration (T) obtained at various swimming speeds. Eight highly trained swimmers were instructed to swim until onset of fatigue at four predetermined swimming speed levels in the swimming flume and at maximal effort over four different swimming distances in the swimming pool. In the results of CS-flume and CS-pool, the regression relations between D and T were expressed in the general form, D = a + b × T, with r2 being higher than 0.998 (p < 0.01), respectively. These results both from the flume and the pool indicated extremely good linearity. Furthermore, maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) during the incremental exercise test, swimming speed corresponding 4 mM of blood lactate concentration (V-OBLA) and mean velocity in the 400 m freestyle (V-400) were measured on each subject. Significant correlations were found between CS-pool and CS-flume (r = 0.824, p < 0.05), CS-pool and V-400 (r = 0.998, p < 0.01), V-OBLA and CS-pool (r = 0.898, p < 0.01), V-OBLA and CS-flume (r = 0.856, p < 0.01), and CS-flume and V-400 (r = 0.823, p < 0.05). These data suggest that CS can be determined by the relationship between the swimming distance and the recorded time, not only in the flume but also in the normal swimming pool, and CS can be adopted as an index for assessing the endurance performance.