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12-Minute Swim Test

The 12-Minute Swim Test (Cooper, 1982) is an aerobic swimming fitness test, in which the participants attempt to cover as much distance as possible in 12 minutes. This is the pool version of the Cooper 12-minute walk/run test. There is also a cycling version. The test requires proficiency in swimming technique to adequately estimate aerobic fitness. Conley et al. (1991) found it was not a valid alternative to the 12-min run, and in male junior swimmers it was only moderately reliable and does not appear to be a valid field test of aerobic capacity (Huse et al., 2000)

test purpose: This test measures aerobic fitness and swimming ability.

equipment required: standard 25 or 50 meter swimming pool is preferred, marker cones, stopwatch.

pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Warm up with a few laps easy swimming. Place marker cones every 10 meters/yards to assist in measuring the swimming distance covered. See more details of pre-test procedures.

procedure: The aim of this test is to swim for 12 minutes and cover the maximum distance as possible. Any swim stroke and turn may be used, but freestyle is preferable and expected to maximize speed. Swimmers begin the test in the water at one end of the pool. On the command ‘ready, go’ the clock will start, and they will begin swimming at their own steady pace. The participant stops swimming when 12 minutes has been elapsed, and the total distance completed is recorded.

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scoring: The total distance swam is recorded, to the nearest meter. If a pool other than a standard 50 swimming pool is used, the pool length should be recorded with the results.


TABLE: 12-minute Swimming Test ratings for MALES. Distance in yards for different age groups

  13-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >800 >700 >650 >600 >550 >500
Good 700-799 600-699 550-649 500-599 450-549 400-499
Fair 600-699 500-599 450-549 400-499 350-449 300-399
Poor 500-599 400-499 350-449 300-399 250-349 250-299
Very Poor <500 <400 <350 <300 <250 <250

source: Cooper (1982)

TABLE: 12-minute Swimming Test ratings for FEMALES. Distance in yards for different age groups

  13-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >700 >600 >550 >500 >450 >400
Good 600-699 500-599 450-549 400-499 350-449 300-399
Fair 500-599 400-499 350-449 300-399 250-349 200-299
Poor 400-499 300-399 250-349 200-299 150-249 150-199
Very Poor <400 <300 <250 <200 <150 <150

source: Cooper (1982)

comments: A maximum of three swimmers per lane is ideal (try to space them 15 seconds apart at the start), and no drafting off other swimmers is allowed.


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