Critical evaluation of oxygen-uptake assessment in swimming

Ana Sousa, Pedro Figueiredo, David Pendergast, Per Ludvik Kjendlie, João P. Vilas-Boas, Ricardo J. Fernandes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Swimming has become an important area of sport science research since the 1970s, with the bioenergetic factors assuming a fundamental performance- influencing role. The purpose of this study was to conduct a critical evaluation of the literature concerning oxygen-uptake (VO assessment in swimming, by describing the equipment and methods used and emphasizing the recent works conducted in ecological conditions. Particularly in swimming, due to the inherent technical constraints imposed by swimming in a water environment, assessment of VOax was not accomplished until the 1960s. Later, the development of automated portable measurement devices allowed VOax to be assessed more easily, even in ecological swimming conditions, but few studies have been conducted in swimming-pool conditions with portable breath-by-breath telemetric systems. An inverse relationship exists between the velocity corresponding to VOax and the time a swimmer can sustain it at this velocity. The energy cost of swimming varies according to its association with velocity variability. As, in the end, the supply of oxygen (whose limitation may be due to central-Odelivery and transportation to the working muscles-or peripheral factors-Odiffusion and utilization in the muscles) is one of the critical factors that determine swimming performance, VOkinetics and its maximal values are critical in understanding swimmers' behavior in competition and to develop efficient training programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-202
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct VOmeasurement
  • Free swimming
  • Measuring devices
  • Respiratory system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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