Heart rate, blood lactate and perceived exertion in synchronized swimming routines during competition

In modern synchronized swimming (SS) athletes need to combine sets of technically, physically, and esthetically very demanding exercises, lasting about 2 to 5 minutes, both breathing freely and holding breath (BH) for almost 50% of the time (Homma, 1994). In each program, swimmers competing above junior level must perform both a technical and a free routine. This study aims to describe selected physiological responses during an official competition. Methods: 34 high-level senior (21.4 ± 3.6) and junior (15.9 ± 1.0 years) synchronized swimmers were monitored while performing a total of 96 routines during an official national championship in the technical solo (TS), free solo (FS), technical duet (TD), free duet (FD), technical team (TT), and free team (FT) programs. Heart rate (HR) was continuously monitored. Peak blood lactate (Lapeak) was obtained from serial capillary samples during recovery (minutes 3, 5, 7, and 10). Post-exercise rate of perceived exertion (RPE) was assessed using the CR10 Borg’s scale. Total competition scores (TCS) were obtained from official records. Mixed model MANOVA and Bonferroni post-hoc tests were used for comparisons. Results: Senior swimmers attained higher TCS than juniors (87.0 ± 4.7 vs. 79.1 ± 3.4 points). Pre-exercise mean HR (beats•min-1) was 129.1 ± 13.2, and quickly increased during the exercise to attain mean peak values of 192.0 ± 8.6, with frequent interspersed bradycardic events down to 88.8 ± 28.3. Lapeak (mmol/L) was highest in the FS (8.5 ± 2.1) and FD (7.6 ± 1.8) and lowest in the FT routines (6.2 ± 1.9). Mean RPE (0-10+) was higher in the junior (7.8 ± 0.9) than in the senior group (7.1 ± 1.4). Discussion: Cardiovascular demands of competitive routines are remarkably high and are characterized by intense anticipatory HR pre-activation and rapidly developing exercise tachycardia, with interspersed periods of marked bradychardia during the exercise bouts performed at apnea. Autonomic neural cardiovascular response to BH and face immersion (i.e. bradycardia) was powerful enough to counteract exercise tachycardia during the apneic phases of intense exercise (Andersson et al., 2002). Moderate Lapeak suggests a minor role of the glycolytic anaerobic metabolism. Competitive routines are perceived as very to extremely intense, particularly in the FS and FD, and less so in the technical and team programs. The role of BH and diving during very intense dynamic exercise needs to be further investigated.
© Copyright 2012 17th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), Bruges, 4. -7. July 2012. Published by Vrije Universiteit Brussel. All rights reserved.

Subjects: synchronized swimming load movement co-ordination coordinative ability lactate heart rate energy metobolism load intensity respiration
Notations: biological and medical sciences technical sports
Published in: 17th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), Bruges, 4. -7. July 2012
Editors: R. Meeusen, J. Duchateau, B. Roelands, M. Klass, B. De Geus, S. Baudry, E. Tsolakidis
Published: Brügge Vrije Universiteit Brussel 2012
Pages: 113
Document types: congress proceedings
Language: English
Level: advanced