Intensity of exercise recovery, blood lactate disappearance, and subsequent swimming performance

This study aims to examine blood lactate clearance rates after a total swimming performance, using the blood lactate response to exercise when prescribing exercise recovery intensity.  The authors also aim to find out if enhanced lactate clearance would result in an improved subsequent performance.

14 male swimmers from the varsity team at the University of Virginia participated in this study, published by Journal of Sports Sciences, which was completed in four experimental sessions which were approximately a week apart from each other.

The main findings of this study were that lactate clearance was facilitated and that subsequent 200-yard swimming performance was enhanced by active recovery at the speed associated with the lactate threshold.

Swimming is one of several sports where multiple races might be completed in short periods of time during competition, with sometimes only minutes separating heats. The swimmers involved in this study revealed that they normally recover at a considerably slower speed than the one associated with their individual lactate threshold.

The authors explain that sometimes swimmers may have longer than 10 minutes to recover from one race to the other, but taking into account that 10 mins of passive recovery only brought blood lactate down from 9.2 to 7.1 mmol * l-1, they believe that a considerable recovery time would be required for complete lactate clearance.

With the availability of portable lactate analysers, the coaches are now able to allow the athletes to recover at their lactate threshold, which can help get a better post-race recovery.

Moses et al. also consider that using active recovery at the lactate threshold during recovery sets after a tough practice swim might make the training much more productive.

This article was written by James D. Greenwood, G. Edward Moses, F. Mark Bernardino, Glenn A. Gaesser and Arthur Weltman and published in 2008 by Journal of Sports Sciences; 26(1): 29–34

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Intensity of exercise recovery, blood lactate disappearance, and subsequent swimming performance