Training articles

How to calculate your swimming rhythm? NICE CRITICAL SPEED (Vcrit)

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If you still have doubts about your swimming rhythm when training, we offer you an easy application test so you can mark your swimming intensities

Know our "optimal" swim pace for aerobic training in swimming it can be quite complex if we do not have experience in swimming. Several decades ago, Wakayoshi et al. (1992) defined the critical swimming speed (Vcrit) as the highest speed that can be maintained for a long period of time without reaching exhaustionthat is, that which is related to the maximum stable lactate state (Wakayoshi et al., 1992).

Therefore, if we know the Vcrit we can work on the aerobic capacity of the athlete in search of improvement.

Among the protocols used for the Vcrit calculation We find tests of 2 distances, 3 distances and even 4 distances. All of them have in common swimming at maximum intensity of the corresponding distances, respecting a rest time that allows a practically complete recovery before taking the next distance. However, the most recommended for its ease of application and its proven validity is that of two distances (200 and 400 meters) because the use of lower distances may overestimate the result by having a more anaerobic component (Pelayo et al., 2000; Ginn, 1993).

How to do the Vcrit test?

To know the Vcrit by means of the 2 distance test (200 and 400 meters) we will carry out the following steps, always taking the exit from within the water:

  • Swim 400 meters at the fastest possible speed and record the time
  • Full recovery, can be active or passive
  • Swim 200 meters at the fastest possible speed and record the time
  • Calculate the Vcrit using the following formula:

Vcrit = (400–200) / (Time 400 - Time 200) *

* The time must be in seconds to be able to make the formula correctly

Example:

  • 400m test: 5:00 to 300 seconds
  • 200m test: 2:20 to 140 seconds
  • Vcrit = (400-200) / (300-140) = 1,25 m / s
  • Time in 100m = 100 / 1,25 = 80s à 1:20

Based on the Vcrit Ginn (1993) he established five training zones which can also be related to the speed of 400 meters:

Training Zones Calculation

Training area

% Vcrit

% V400

1

75-80%

> 75%

2

80-90%

75-85%

3

90-100%

85-95%

4

100%

100%

5

100-110%

105%

Therefore, we already have our Vcrit rhythm for the frequent series of 100 at an aerobic rhythm with breaks of 20-30 ”.

As we can see, it is a easy test to perform in any pool and that it does not require any complex instrument and provides us with a reliable value to assess our aerobic capacity, establish a swimming rhythm and know the evolution of performance, if we do it in different periods of the season.

Laura García Cervantes

Dra. Sciences of Physical Activity and Sport

Senior Triathlon and Swimming Trainer

Paratriathlon Specialist Coach

References

Ginn E. (1993). Critical speed and training intensities for swimming. Australian Sports Commission.

Wakayoshi K, Ikuta K, Yoshida T, Udo M, Moritani T, Mutoh Y, et al. (1992) .Determination and validity of critical velocity as an index of swimming performance in the competitive swimmer. Eur J Appl Physiol.; 64: 153-7.

Pelayo P., Dekerle J., Delaporte B., Gosse N., Sidney M. (2000). Critical speed and critical stroke rate could be useful physiological and technical criteria for coaches to monitor endurance performance in competitive swimmers. In: Abstract book of the XVIII International Symposium of biomechanics in Sports, Hong Kong, 26-30.

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