Multigenerational performance development of male and female top-elite swimmers-A global study of the 100 m freestyle event

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Abstract

Background The present study investigated longitudinally the performance development of a multigenerational sample of competitive swimmers. The aim of the study was to provide unique insight into the junior toward senior performance development of those few who reached top-elite level. Season Best Times (SBT) of 100 m freestyle performance of international swimmers, (1.305 males, aged 12-26 and 1.841 females, aged 12-24) competing in at least five seasons between 1993 and 2018, were corrected for the prevailing world record (WR). Swim performance was defined as a relative measure: relative Season Best Time=(SBT/WR) x 100. Based on rSBT, four performance groups were defined: top-elite, elite, sub-elite, and high-competitive. Results Univariate analyses of variance showed that male top-elite swimmers outperformed high-competitive swimmers from the age of 12, sub-elite swimmers from the age of 14 and elite swimmers from the age of 18 while female top-elite swimmers outperformed high-competitive and sub-elite swimmers from the age of 12 and elite swimmers from the age of 14 (P <.05). Frequency analysis showed that male top-elite swimmers for the first time achieved top-elite level between the 17 and 24 years old (mean age of 21) while female top-elite swimmers started to perform at top-elite level between the 14 and 24 years old (mean age of 18). Conclusion Male and female top-elite swimmers are characterized by a high-performance level from 12 years on and progressively outperform swimmers from similar age. However, this goes together with a large variety in the individual pathways toward top-elite level within and between sexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-571
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8-Dec-2019

Keywords

  • acquisition of expertise
  • competitive swimming
  • sport performance
  • talent
  • world record
  • COMPETITIVE PERFORMANCE
  • ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
  • EXPERT PERFORMANCE
  • SPORT
  • PROGRESSION
  • BENCHMARKS

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