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Importance of Cardio Outside the Pool for Female Sprinters

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by , March 20th, 2009 at 09:00 PM (1841 Views)
AM
4 mile run on course with rolling hills and some flat straight-aways. Total time: 35:39 (8:55/mi. pace)

PM
Swim
Warm-up: 20 x 25 on :30 (Jumped in on tail-end of somebody's workout and used as a warm-up.) Did a variety of drills and easy swimming.

3 x 200 freestyle (descending) on 3:00

4 x 150 freestyle on 2:10 (hold pace)

6 x 100 freestyle with fins and paddles on 1:20

4 x 50 back - 25 rt. arm/25 lt.arm - 20 seconds rest

4 x 50 kick - alt. 8 kicks on back, 8 kicks on right side, 8 kicks on back, 8 kicks on left side - 20 seconds rest

6 x 50 back on 1:00 - work on quicksilver stroke-technique tip (high and dry shoulder - shoulder brushing cheek)

4 x 75 back dolphin with fins on 1:00

100 easy

Total yards: 3400

As I was swimming this afternoon, I pondered a point raised by a study that Jim Thornton posted on the weight reduction thread a week ago. The study is discussed more below. An implication of the study was that body composition changes had a significant impact on a female's ability to sprint.

In my experience, cycling and/or running seem to be pretty effective at lowering body fat measurements, particularly in the thigh. I know there is no such thing as spot reducing, but from my own experience, I can't help but wonder if there are hormonal/chemical changes in women that occur when they start to run or cycle that lead to a reduction of body fat in the lower body.

As a masters swimmer, I had my best sprinting performance at Auburn in 2003 when I swam a 28.57(SCY) in 50 fly and a 1:07.80 in the 100 I.M.(no tech suit on either swim). With the exception of the week before the meet, I was running 20 to 25 miles per week. My weight was pretty much the same as it had been in the prior years (within 3 pounds) and the two years immediately following. My average yardage and weight-lifting routine was pretty much the same. The only difference was that in all other years, I was not doing any cardio outside the pool or I was doing very little, i.e. running 8 miles or less during the week.

I'm convinced I was carrying less body fat in 2003 due to the running and that it made a difference in my sprint ability that year. I would be curious to know if other female sprinters find cardio outside the pool helpful in keeping their body composition at an ideal level for sprinting.

Anyway, here is the study that Jim posted:


4. Sprint performance may be affected more in females than in males.
Siders, W.A., H.C. Lukaski and W.W. Bolonchuk. (1993). Relationships among swimming performance, body composition and somatotype in competitive collegiate swimmers. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 33:166-171.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between body composition and sprint swimming performance. Seventy-four collegiate-level male and female sprinters were weighed underwater and tested on a single 100-y time trial of the swimmer’s main competitive stroke.
Results

  • Sprint performance was significantly related to height, weight in water, fat-free weight and body fatness in females.
  • The taller, heavier in water, the more fat-free tissue and the less body fat (within 25+5.3%), the faster they swam.
  • These trends were also present for the males (¿=14.1+2.9%), but the relationships were not significant.
Implications

  • Percent body fat can impact performance, but it doesn’t have to be extremely low for a swimmer to perform well.
  • The effects of body composition changes on sprint performance may be more pronounced in females than in males.

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Updated March 20th, 2009 at 10:36 PM by elise526

Categories
Swim Workouts

Comments

  1. The Fortress's Avatar
    Very interesting ... Not sure what to think. I wonder if this is an age specific issue or would apply to age groupers as well?

    For me, when I swim more and run less, I seem to swim better. However, it would be interesting to see what would happen if I swam what I do now, but was running as much as I previously have ... I just don't have time to do it all!
  2. elise526's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress
    Very interesting ... Not sure what to think. I wonder if this is an age specific issue or would apply to age groupers as well?

    For me, when I swim more and run less, I seem to swim better. However, it would be interesting to see what would happen if I swam what I do now, but was running as much as I previously have ... I just don't have time to do it all!
    Yeah, I have my doubts as to whether I would have the time now to run 20 to 25 miles per week and swim the same amount I was swimming at the time of the meet. I had a lot more time in 2003.

    I do wonder about the age thing. Age-groupers do so much yardage and dryland that I doubt they would they have the time to do anything else. It already seems with the amount of training that they do that their body fat is pretty low anyway.

    I would wonder if the older one gets, the more important it might be to cross-train. Seems the body gets so efficient at burning calories if one does primarily one thing.

    Fort - I can't imagine your needing to get any leaner, so I would think adding in too much running might result in a loss of muscle mass/power.
    Updated March 21st, 2009 at 01:24 AM by elise526
  3. jim thornton's Avatar
    I have been swimming with a young woman who graduated from college a year or two ago. She had swum a 57 100 back and a 23 50 free. She still considers herself more of a sprinter than a distance swimmer, but in practices, at least, I see the opposite. When we do 2 or 3 500s, for instance, she can hold them around 5:40. But when we do 100 sprints, she's not even close to breaking a minute.

    When I asked her about this, she said that in college she was doing heavy lifting, which she no longer wants to do because, she said, "it makes me huge."

    I don't know what to make of this. I have found that for me, I have to be in really good shape to swim 500's well, and probably 200s as well. But I can usually pull out an acceptable (for me) 50 or 100 even if I am not in the best shape.

    With my female teammate, the opposite seems to the be case, which makes me wonder if gender differences in the underlying energy systems (anaerobic vs. aerobic) might have more to do with it than we think.

    As far as running goes, I know Dara Torres does a lot of cross training. But from what i've read, sports are so muscle specific that running usually doesn't improve swimming, and vice versa. Maybe explosive leg strength off the starts and walls might benefit, but I am not sure what else would other than, as you suggest, possible decreases in lower body fat.
  4. elise526's Avatar
    Jim - You raise a good point with the energy systems. I wish somebody would extensively study the gender differences. It would be quite interesting.

    I know this is a bit off the subject, but when I sense your presence, I feel the need to clean up my writing.
  5. jim thornton's Avatar
    How ironic. When I sense your presence, I feel this hope, bordering on a need, I suppose, that you will dirty up your writing.
  6. The Fortress's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    I have been swimming with a young woman who graduated from college a year or two ago. She had swum a 57 100 back and a 23 50 free. She still considers herself more of a sprinter than a distance swimmer, but in practices, at least, I see the opposite. When we do 2 or 3 500s, for instance, she can hold them around 5:40. But when we do 100 sprints, she's not even close to breaking a minute.

    When I asked her about this, she said that in college she was doing heavy lifting, which she no longer wants to do because, she said, "it makes me huge."

    I don't know what to make of this. I have found that for me, I have to be in really good shape to swim 500's well, and probably 200s as well. But I can usually pull out an acceptable (for me) 50 or 100 even if I am not in the best shape.

    With my female teammate, the opposite seems to the be case, which makes me wonder if gender differences in the underlying energy systems (anaerobic vs. aerobic) might have more to do with it than we think.

    As far as running goes, I know Dara Torres does a lot of cross training. But from what i've read, sports are so muscle specific that running usually doesn't improve swimming, and vice versa. Maybe explosive leg strength off the starts and walls might benefit, but I am not sure what else would other than, as you suggest, possible decreases in lower body fat.
    See, more anecdotal evidence that lifting makes on huge ...

    Jim what does Dara do besides weights/drylands?
  7. jim thornton's Avatar
    I think she does a lot of bike riding, tennis, etc. She's really quite the multisport type person.