Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2023) 22, 739 - 747   DOI:

Research article
Diving into Recovery. The Effects of Different Post-Competition Protocols for Enhancing Physio-Psychological Parameters in National Level Youth Swimmers
Vincenzo Sorgente1, , Alejandro Lopez-Hernandez2, Diego Minciacchi1, José María González Ravé3
Author Information
1 Kinesiology and Motor Control (Ki.Mo.Co.) Laboratory, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Italy
2 Castilla-la-Mancha Swimming Federation, Albacete, Spain
3 Sport Training Laboratory, Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain

Vincenzo Sorgente
✉ Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni, 63 – 50134, Florence, Italy
Publish Date
Received: 04-05-2023
Accepted: 01-11-2023
Published (online): 01-12-2023

The purpose of this study was to elucidate whether a specific approach regarding active swimming recovery could better promote psycho-physiological recovery right after competing in a high-level swimming race. To achieve this, we recruited 50 national level youth swimmers, randomly and equally assigning them to two groups, named “experimental” and “coach prescribed”. Each group performed a specific post-competition recovery protocol, consisting of different swimming paces, rest times, self-management of the exercises. We gathered data about blood lactate (BL), heart rate (HR), and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) at two different moments, the first moment right after the swimming competition (named post-competition phase), the second moment right after swimming the respective recovery protocol assigned (named post-recovery phase). A mixed MANOVA with Tukey HSD post-hoc analysis revealed no significant differences between the experimental and coach-prescribed groups in BL, HR, and RPE at the post-competition phase. At the post-recovery phase, however, the experimental group presented lower BL levels than the coach-prescribed group (2.40 ± 1.18 vs. 4.29 ± 2.07 mmol/L, p < 0.05). Finally, we found no interaction of swimming race ranking on recovery capacities. We conclude that for immediate improvement of BL in a wide range of high-level swimmers, an efficient recovery protocol should consist of several paces, high volumes, fixed and short rest times, whereas the widely popular self-managed, lower intensity approach does not seem as equally effective. Our study advances the development of novel recommendations for optimizing immediate fatigue management in competitive swimming.

Key words: Cooling-down, performance, fatigue, swimming, sports, exercise

           Key Points
  • Heart rate and rate of perceived exertion measurements do not seem the right choice when seeking to compare the effectiveness of different post-competition recovery protocols in high-level swimmers. Indeed, they remain paramount parameters in detecting trends, patterns, and response to competition for a single group/swimmer.
  • Blood lactate clearance is enhanced by precise iterations of a recovery protocol design in swimmers, such as diversity of paces (even the hard one), relatively high volumes, fixed and short rest times, a wide use of different exercises. It is thus discouraged to employ uniquely “steady” or “self-paced” approaches.
  • The enhanced blood lactate clearance was present regardless of ranking position, distance, or stroke specialization among swimmers. Hence, the use of specific recovery protocols may be generally beneficial in improving physiological indicators of fatigue across a wide spectrum of high-level youth swimmers.
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