Improvement of sprint triathlon performance in trained athletes with positive swim pacing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Human Kinetics

Place of Publication

United States


Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / School of Medical and Health Sciences




Wu, S. S. X., Peiffer, J.J., Peeling, P., Brisswalter, J., Lau, W.Y., Nosaka, K., & Abbiss, C.R. (2016). Improvement of sprint triathlon performance in trained athletes with positive swim pacing. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance,11(8), 1024-1028. Available here.


Purpose: To investigate the effect of 3 swim-pacing profiles on subsequent performance during a sprint-distance triathlon (SDT).

Methods:Nine competitive/trained male triathletes completed 5 experimental sessions including a graded running exhaustion test, a 750-m swim time trial (STT), and SDTs. The swim times of the 3 SDTs were matched, but pacing was manipulated to induce positive (ie, speed gradually decreasing from 92% to 73% STT), negative (ie, speed gradually increasing from 73% to 92% STT), or even pacing (constant 82.5%STT). The remaining disciplines were completed at a self-selected maximal pace. Speed over the entire triathlon, power output during the cycle discipline, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for each discipline, and heart rate duringthe cycle and run were determined.

Results: Faster cycle and overall triathlon times were achieved with positive swim pacing (30.5 ± 1.8 and 65.9 ± 4.0 min, respectively), as compared with the even (31.4 ± 1.0 min, P = .018 and 67.7 ± 3.9 min, P = .034, effect size [ES] = 0.46, respectively) and negative (31.8 ± 1.6 min, P = .011 and 67.3 ± 3.7 min, P = .014, ES = 0.36, respectively) pacing. Positive swim pacing elicited a lower RPE (9 ±2) than negative swim pacing (11± 2, P = .014). No differences were observed in the other measured variables.

Conclusions: A positive swim pacing may improve overall SDT performance and shoudl be considered by both elite and age-group athletes during racing.



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