Research into the physiology and biomechanics of swimming

Seminal research into swimming performance. An example of the wide ranging interests and scientific curiosity of Professor Anthony Sargeant. The data for this publication were collected by Huub Toussaint an extremely talented Dutch PhD student who was supported by Professor Anthony Sargeant. Initially drafts of this innovative research were extensively revised by Tony and sent back to Huub for more work. Also with the perspective and experience brought by Tony, came an instruction to place the research paper in the top applied physiology journal for such work.
Journal of Applied Physiology
J Appl Physiol. 1988 Dec;65(6):2506-12

In this study the propelling efficiency (ep) of front-crawl swimming, by use of the arms only, was calculated in four subjects. This is the ratio of the power used to overcome drag (Pd) to the total mechanical power (Po) produced including power wasted in changing the kinetic energy of masses of water (Pk). By the use of an extended version of the system to measure active drag (MAD system), Pd was measured directly.

Simultaneous measurement of O2 uptake (VO2) enabled the establishment of the relationship between the rate of the energy expenditure (PVO2) and Po (since when swimming on the MAD system Po = Pd). These individual relationships describing the mechanical efficiency (8-12%) were then used to estimate Po in free swimming from measurements of VO2. Because Pd was directly measured at each velocity studied by use of the MAD system, ep could be calculated according to the equation ep = Pd/(Pd + Pk) = Pd/Po. For the four top class swimmers studied, ep was found to range from 46 to 77%. Total efficiency, defined as the product of mechanical and propelling efficiency, ranged from 5 to 8%.


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