The effect of critical speed and exercise intensity on stroke phase duration and bilateral asymmetry in 200-m front crawl swimming
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The main aim of this study was to determine the absolute temporal relationship between the power and recovery phases of the stroke cycle in front crawl swimming in response to progressive changes in exercise intensity that occurred before and after critical speed. A second objective was to determine whether intensity-related changes in the power/recovery phase relationship affects the bilateral symmetry of the stroke. Stroke parameters were recorded for each 25-m length during a progressive 200-m interval training set, in which eight (2 males, 6 females) national-level swimmers swam at intensities below, above, and at critical speed. The results demonstrated that substantial increases in stroke rate (P < 0.01) occurred at critical speed, and that these increases were related to a greater decrease in the duration of the power phase than the recovery phase (P < 0.01). The results also show that the degree of bilateral asymmetry was greater for the power phase than the recovery phase, and was inversely related to intensity in both phases of the stroke cycle. The findings of this study suggest that critical speed-related increases in stroke rate are an indirect consequence of increased force production in the power phase of the stroke, and that bilateral asymmetry is both intensity- and stroke-phase dependent.
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