Incremental exercise test for the evaluation of peak oxygen consumption in paralympic swimmers
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BACKGROUND: Peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) is a fundamental parameter used to evaluate physical capacity. The objective of this study was to explore two types of incremental exercise tests used to determine VO2peak in four Paralympic swimmers: arm ergometer testing in the laboratory and testing in the swimming pool. METHODS: On two different days, the VO2peak values of the four athletes were measured in a swimming pool and by a cycle ergometer. The protocols identified the VO2peak by progressive loading until the volitional exhaustion maximum was reached. The results were analyzed using the paired Student's t-test, Cohen's d effect sizes and a linear regression. RESULTS: The results showed that the VO2peak values obtained using the swimming pool protocol were higher (P=0.02) than those obtained by the arm ergometer (45.8±19.2 vs. 30.4±15.5; P=0.02), with a large effect size (d=3.20). When analyzing swimmers 1, 2, 3 and 4 individually, differences of 22.4%, 33.8%, 60.1% and 27.1% were observed, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Field tests similar to the competitive setting are a more accurate way to determine the aerobic capacity of Paralympic swimmers. This approach provides more sensitive data that enable better direction of training, consequently facilitating improved performance.