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Swimming 7 x 200m Step Test

The 7 x 200m swim step test is a very comprehensive swimming-specific physiological test. It is used to monitor training and improvements in aerobic conditioning. For information about aerobic stepping tests, see Step Tests (these are different types of step tests).

purpose: To test fitness parameters during a standard swimming.

equipment required: a swimming pool (25m or 50m in length), pool pace clock, stopwatch, equipment for blood lactate testing, heart rate monitor.

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. See more details of pre-test procedures.

procedure: All 200m swims are conducted at an even pace (even 50m splits) on 6 minutes (starting every new set exactly six minutes after the start of the previous one). The test is conducted using the swimmer's specialist stroke (i.e. freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke). The swimming target time for each swimmer is based on age or intensity. For seniors, the last 200m is swum at a pace to elicit maximum heart rate, and each 200m preceding this is at 10 bpm below the one before. For young age groupers, each swim is related to their personal best (PB), such that (for males): 1st 200m = PB +24 secs, 2nd 200m = PB +20 secs, 3rd 200m = PB +16 secs, 4th 200m = PB +12 secs, 5th 200m = PB + 8 secs, 6th 200m = PB pace, 7th 200m = Goal PB pace. For female swimmers the targets are 4 seconds less for swims 1 to 5.

Swimmer Winnermeasurements: Record all splits and total times, and stroke rate. At the end of each swim, record RPE (rate of perceived exertion on a scale of 6 to 20), heart rate, and at three minutes after each swim measure blood lactate levels.

results: Calculate average pace, heart rate, stroke rate, strokes per length. Use the results to plot heart rate/velocity curves or lactate/velocity curves. Changes in these over time are used to monitor changes in swimming specific aerobic conditioning. A measure of anaerobic threshold can be determined from these graphs.

target population: It is a test for swimmers. The test is appropriate for experienced swimmers (male and female), who have good pacing ability.

reliability: this test relies on good pacing ability of the swimmers. Practice will improve this, as well improve the reliability of results.

advantages: the comprehensive measures provide great feedback to the coach and swimmer.

disadvantages: The equipment and assistants required make this a costly and time consuming test.

comments: this test requires plenty of assistance, having one data collector per swimmer would be ideal.

reference: Pyne, D., Maw, G. and Goldsmith W. (2000), Protocols for the Physiological Assessment of Swimmers. In: Gore C (ed) "Physiological Tests for Elite Athletes", Published for the Australian Sports Commission by Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign Illinois pp. 372-382.

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