Int J Sports Med 1987; 08(5): 352-356
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1025683
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Metabolic and Hormonal Responses to Long-Distance Swimming in Cold Water

S. Dulac1 , A. Quirion1 , D. DeCarufel1 , J. LeBlanc2 , M. Jobin2 , J. Côté2 , G. R. Brisson3 , J. M. Lavoie4 , P. Diamond2
  • 1Département des sciences de l'activité physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • 2Département de Physiologie, Faculté de médecine, Université Laval, Québec
  • 3INRS-Santé, Montréal
  • 4Département d'éducation physique, Université de Montréal
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


The acute effects of long-distance swimming in cold water on selected hormonal and metabolic variables were evaluated on 22 long-distance swimmers (16 males and 6 females) during a 32-km swimming competition (La Traversée Internationale du Lac St-Jean). The water temperature was 18.5°C and the mean performance times were 8 h and 32 min for men (M) and 9 h and 1 min for women (F). The blood samples were withdrawn in the fasting state during the week preceding the event and within 30 min after completion of the race. A positive correlation was obtained, for both groups, between percent body fat and rectal temperature measured at the end of the competition. After the competition, an increase in plasma epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, thyroxine, free fatty acids, lactate, a decrease in glucose and insulin and no change in growth hormone, triiodothyronine, triglycerides, and cholesterol concentrations were observed in both groups. The increase in plasma thyroxine was more pronounced in the slower swimmers while the change in blood cortisol concentrations was higher in the subjects having the most acute decrease in body temperature. Male and female swimmers have a similar metabolic and hormonal response to a long-distance swimming competition in cold water.