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Creating swimmers’ physiological profile – Complex testing for research purposes

de Tongelreep

Creating swimmers’ physiological profile – Complex testing for research purposes

A complex chain of measurements took place in the last two weeks in InnoSportLab de Tongelreep on 22 swimmers of the Dutch National Team. The project aims to determine a full physiological profile of the athletes, led by PhD student of the Lab, Michel de Haan.

The first three days consisted of VO2 max tests in ‘dry’ circumstances. The athletes had to go through 20 minute sessions of using the bike and the armbike with constantly increasing the intensity. While riding, they were connected to a machine capable of analyzing their expired air, and also their heart rate was measured.

This was followed by VO2 max tests in water and on the swimergometer in the next three days. The in water tests were executed with a specially designed snorkel, which helps to produce a breathing gas analysis of swimmers in water. The athletes were also connected to a power rack, where the weight was increased step by step. The swimmers had to swim in one spot against the resistance of the power rack in order to find their highest oxygen uptake. In the meantime the same test was produced on the swimergometer, which is the closest ‘dry’ testing method to actual swimming.

The breathing gas analysis is a popular way of measuring endurance. However, with the help of the special snorkel in combination with the power rack solution a new opportunity was introduced to test the swimmers in their ‘natural habitat’. This idea presents an excellent alternative for flume pools, and also for treadmill or cycling endurance tests, which require a completely different form of movement than swimming.

The research continued on Wednesday with wingate arm and leg tests, measuring the anaerobic powers produced, as well as fatigue index.

On Thursday the MAD (measuring active drag) system of InnoSportLab de Tongelreep was in use. This unique built in system requires the swimmers to directly push themselves off using the fixed underwater pads in the bottom of the pool to advance. The pads are connected to a computer measuring the forces developed by the swimmers, who had to increase their intensity in the process.

In the last days jump and pull up tests were executed with the athletes combined with 50 meter sprints and 1500 meter maximum power swims, focusing on time with also capturing video. Parallel to this an ultrasound test was conducted on the athletes, creating a 3D image of their muscles.

This complex project produced a huge load of data to be analyzed in the future. Michel’s main focus is on creating a full physiological profile of the athletes. Containing both endurance and peak power and combining this with innovative 3D ultrasound to be able to study the muscle morphology and relate this to the performance on the exercise tests and performance measures.

Photos & text: Bertalan Pusztai

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