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Impact of controlled frequency breathing on performance and physiology in swimming


McGowan, CJ and Rattray, B and Lyons, K, Impact of controlled frequency breathing on performance and physiology in swimming, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) Conference, 9-11 April, Gold Coast. Queensland (2012) [Conference Extract]

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Introduction: Controlled frequency breathing (CFB) has been utilised by coaches for a number of years in order to improve swimmers’ performance. CFB is thought to simulate the purported beneficial physiological effects experienced whilst training at elevated altitude1. In order to validate the value of any training method or intervention it is critical to examine maximal effort responses within a competition environment. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to characterise differences in performance time, physiology and stroke characteristics in high-level swimmers using normal frequency breathing and CFB during a maximal 400 m freestyle swim.

Methods: Nine high level swimmers (16.2 ± 1.9 years, 1.8 ± 0.8 m, 75 ± 8.2 kg, Open/Age National competition level) performed two maximal effort 400 m freestyle swims using their normal frequency breathing (control) and CFB, following a two week familiarisation period. CFB was defined in this study as two strokes above the average normal frequency breathing rate over the 400 m distance. Performance time and stroke characteristics were monitored throughout the performance and post effort capillary blood samples were taken. Student’s t-test and 90% confidence intervals (CI) were used to compare the impact of breathing rate on performance. This study was approved by the University of Canberra Human Research Ethics Committee and each subject provided written informed consent prior to the study’s commencement.

Results: Performance times (mean ± SD) were similar with trivial increases during CFB (278.7 ± 19.2s) compared to control (277.1 ± 18.5s). No significant differences were observed between CFB and control for blood or stroke variables except for pCO2 and lactate. Mean capillary pCO2 responses were significantly higher (р = 0.039; 90% CI change score 0.94 to 6.60) and mean capillary lactate approached significantly lower levels (р = 0.071; 90% CI change score -4.40 to -0.24) post CFB.

Conclusion/Discussion: Overall performance times were similar for the two breathing rates despite the observed physiological impacts, suggesting that CFB has a limited effect on a swimmer’s performance. The findings of the present study indicate that use of CFB within training programs may increase a swimmer’s ability to tolerate high levels of pCO2 without adversely affecting their overall performance time. This may be of particular benefit to those competing in middle to long distance events.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:swimming, performance, physiology, breathing
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Sports science and exercise
Research Field:Sports science and exercise not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Sport, exercise and recreation
Objective Field:Organised sports
UTAS Author:McGowan, CJ (Dr Courtney McGowan)
ID Code:133846
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2019-07-11
Last Modified:2019-07-12

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