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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 Sep 21

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.12549-6


language: English

Effects of dynamic apnea training on diving bradycardia and short distance swimming performance

Eric R. MULDER 1 , Pontus K. HOLMSTRÖM 1, Erika K. SCHAGATAY 1, 2

1 Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden; 2 Winter Sports Research Centre, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden


BACKGROUND: Apnea training enhances bradycardia and improves competitive apnea performance, and has been proposed as a training method for other sports, such as swimming. We evaluated the effects of apneic underwater swimming, i.e. dynamic apnea (DYN), in 9 competitive swimmers (TR) who completed ten DYN sessions over 2 weeks.
METHODS: TR performed pre- and post-training tests including a static apnea test with continuous heart rate (HR) and peripheral oxygen saturation measurements, all-out 50m and 100m freestyle tests and an all-out DYN test. Control groups were competitive swimmers (SC; n=10) that trained swimming without DYN, and a non-swimmer group (AC; n=10) performing only static apnea tests.
RESULTS: Post-training, TR mean±SD time for 50m freestyle improved from 25.51±2.01s to 24.64±2.02s (p<0.01) and for 100m from 55.5±4.2s to 54.1±4.4s (p<0.05). SC also improved their 100m time from 56.7±3.3s to 56.0±3.1s (p<0.01; p=0.07 between groups). Only TR performed DYN tests; DYN distance increased from 62.1±11.5m to 70.9±18.9m (p<0.05) while DYN speed decreased from 0.74±0.14m/s to 0.64±0.18m/s (p<0.01). Static apnea duration did not change in any of the groups, but HR-reduction was enhanced posttraining only in TR (24.8±14.8% to 31.1±10.9%, p<0.01; p<0.001 between groups).
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that 2 weeks of DYN training enhanced DYN performance, which may be caused by the enhanced apnea-induced diving bradycardia. Further research is required to determine whether DYN training enhances short distance freestyle swimming performance.

KEY WORDS: Breath-holding; Cardiovascular diving response; Hypoxia; Front crawl; Freediving

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