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Open access

Beat Knechtle, Patrizia Knechtle and Thomas Rosemann

No Association Between Skinfold Thicknesses and Race Performance in Male Ultra-Endurance Cyclists in a 600 km Ultra-Cycling Marathon

Purpose. In long-distance runners, an association between skinfold thicknesses and running performance has been demonstrated. Basic procedures. We investigated the relationship between skinfold thicknesses and race time in cyclists in an ultra-endurance cycling race. In 28 ultra-endurance cyclists at the ‘Swiss Cycling Marathon’ over 600 km, skinfold thickness at 8 sites was measured pre race. Single skinfold thicknesses, the sum of 8 skinfolds and percent body fat were correlated with total race time. Main findings. The cyclists finished within 1.596 (296) min riding at an average speed of 26.8 (5.7) km/h. There was no correlation between single skinfold thicknesses, the sum of 8 skinfold thicknesses and percent body fat with total race time. Conclusions. In male ultra-cyclists in a 600 km ultra-marathon, no correlation between skinfold thicknesses and race performance has been detected as demonstrated in long-distance runners.

Open access

Beat Knechtle, Patrizia Knechtle and Thomas Rosemann

A Paradigm for Identifying Ability in Competition: The association Between Anthropometry, Training and Equipment with Race Times in Male Long-Distance Inline Skaters - the ‘Inline One Eleven’

Purpose. The association between anthropometric and training characteristics on an athlete's performance has been investigated in swimmers, cyclists and runners, but not in inline skaters. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between anthropometry, pre race preparation and equipment in the finishers of the longest inline race in Europe, the ‘Inline One eleven’ over 111 km in Switzerland. Basic procedures. We investigated the association of anthropometry, training, and equipment variables with race times in 84 male ultra-endurance inline skaters using bi- and multivariate analysis. Main findings. In the multivariate analysis, percent body fat, duration per training unit, and personal best time in the ‘Inline One eleven’ was related to the race time for all finishers. Out of the 84 finishers, 58 had already finished an ‘Inline One eleven’ while 26 participated for the first time. Speed in training and the kind of skates worn were related to race times of the 26 inexperienced finishers. The inexperienced finishers skating with custom made skates were significantly faster with 229.1 (12.7) min compared to inexperienced finishers using ordinary skates finishing within 290.8 (35.4) min (p < 0.001). For experienced inliners, body mass, the sum of skin-folds and percent body fat correlated to race time. Conclusions. We assume that inexperienced athletes in ultra-endurance skating need time to gain the experience necessary in choosing the correct equipment and doing the training in order to successfully finish a long-distance inline race. Experienced inliners can only improve race performance in an ultra-endurance inline race such as the ‘Inline One eleven’ through a reduction of their body fat.

Open access

Reto Lenherr, Beat Knechtle, Christoph Rüst, Thomas Rosemann and Romuald Lepers

From Double Iron to Double Deca Iron Ultra-Triathlon - A Retrospective Data Analysis from 1985 to 2011

Participation in ultra-endurance performance is of increasing popularity. We analyzed the historic development of the ultra-triathlon scene from 1985 to 2011 focusing on a) worldwide distribution of competition, b) participation, c) gender, and d) athlete nationality. We examined the participation trends of 3,579 athletes, involving 3,297 men (92.1%) and 300 women (7.9%), using linear regression analyses. Between 1985 and 2011, a total of 96 Double Iron ultra-triathlons (7.6km swimming, 360km cycling, and 84.4km running), 51 Triple Iron ultra-triathlons (11.6km swimming, 540km cycling, and 126.6km running), five Quadruple Iron ultra-triathlons (15.2km swimming, 720km cycling, and 168.8km running), five Quintuple Iron ultra-triathlons (19km swimming, 900km cycling, and 211km running), 11 Deca Iron ultra-triathlons (38km swimming, 1,800km cycling, and 422km running), and two Double Deca Iron ultra-triathlons (76km swimming, 3,600km cycling, and 844km running) were held. In total, 56.7% of the races were in Europe, 37.4% in North America, 5.3% in South America, and less than 1% in Asia. Europeans comprised 80% of the athletes. The number of male participants in Double (r2 = .56; P < .001) and Triple Iron ultra-triathlon (r2 = .47; P < .001) and the number of female participants in Double Iron ultra-triathlon (r2 = .66; P < .001) increased significantly. Less than 8% of the athletes total participated in an ultra-triathlon longer than a Triple Iron ultra-triathlon. Europeans won by far the most competitions in every distance. In conclusion, ultra-triathlon popularity is mainly limited to a) European and North American men and b) Double and Triple Iron ultra-triathlons. Future studies need to investigate the motivation of these ultra-endurance athletes to compete in these extreme races.

Open access

Beat Knechtle, Barbara Baumann, Patrizia Knechtle and Thomas Rosemann

What Influences Race Performance in Male Open-Water Ultra-Endurance Swimmers: Anthropometry or Training?

Purpose. We investigated the relationship between selected variables of anthropometry and training with race performance during a 26.4 km open-water ultra-endurance swim at 23°C in male master ultra-swimmers. Basic procedures. Fifteen non-professional male open-water ultra-endurance swimmers who were (mean ± SD) 40.0 (8.2) years of age with 83.7 (10.3) kg body mass, 1.80 (0.08) m body height and a BMI of 25.5 (2.5) kg/m2 finished the race within the time limit. Body mass, percent body fat, thickness of 7 skin folds, body height, length of arm, and length of leg were measured prior to race. The number of years as active swimmer, average weekly training volume in hours and kilometres and average speed in training were recorded. The variables were then correlated to total race time. Main findings. Study participants had mean finish times of 551 (100) min and an average speed of 3.0 (0.5) km/h. Speed in swimming during training was the only variable related to total race time (r = -0.66, p = 0.0037) whereas none of the other investigated variables showed an association. Conclusions. We conclude that anthropometry was not related to race performance in these male ultra-endurance swimmers whereas speed in training showed a moderate association with total race time.

Open access

Beat Knechtle, Barbara Baumann, Patrizia Knechtle, Andrea Wirth and Thomas Rosemann

A Comparison of Anthropometry between Ironman Triathletes and Ultra-swimmers

We intended to compare the anthropometry of male and female Ironman triathletes with the anthropometry of male and female ultra-swimmers. Body mass, body mass index and body fat were lower in both male and female triathletes compared to swimmers. Body height and length of limbs were no different between the two groups. In the multi-variate analysis, in male triathletes, body mass (p=0.015) and percent body fat (p=0.0003) were related to race time; percent body fat was also related to the swim split (p=0.0036). In male swimmers, length of the arm was related to race time (p=0.0089). In female triathletes and swimmers, none of the investigated anthropometric variables showed an association with race time. We concluded that Ironman triathletes and ultra-swimmers were different regarding anthropometry and that different anthropometric variables were related to race time. We assume that other factors, such as training and equipment, as opposed to anthropometry, may better predict race time in male and female Ironman triathletes.

Open access

Beat Knechtle, Tristan Vinzent, Steve Kirby, Patrizia Knechtle and Thomas Rosemann

The Recovery Phase Following a Triple Iron Triathlon

The purpose of this case study was to investigate the recovery phase in a single athlete after a Triple Iron Triathlon involving 11.4 km swimming, 540 km cycling and 126.6 km running. Total body mass, body fat and skeletal muscle mass using the anthropometric method as well as total body water using bioelectrical impedance analysis were determined pre race, after the race and every 24 hours until complete recovery. Parameters of hydration status (urinary specific gravity, hematocrit and plasma sodium) and skeletal muscle damage (plasma urea) were measured at the same time. After finishing the race within 42 hours, total body mass was decreased and total body water was increased. Over the following 6 days, prior to returning to pre race values for plasma volume and total body water, body mass reached a peak value on day 3, plasma volume on day 2 and total body water on day 1. Clinically visible edemas of the feet persisted until day 4. Six days after the race, body mass was reduced by 2.1 kg, skeletal muscle mass by 0.6 kg and fat mass by 0.7 kg. An increase in both blood urea and urinary output post race between days 3 and 6 suggested an impairment of renal function immediately post race due to skeletal muscle damage and manifesting clinically observed edemas. For practical application, athletes, coaches and physicians should anticipate that performing such an ultra-endurance race can lead to considerable edemas of the lower limbs during the recovery phase.

Open access

Christoph Rüst, Beat Knechtle, Irena Joleska, Patrizia Knechtle, Andrea Wirth, Reinhard Imoberdorf, Oliver Senn and Thomas Rosemann

Is the Prevalence of Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Higher in Female than in Male 100-KM Ultra-Marathoners?

Purpose. The prevalence of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) has mainly been investigated in male endurance athletes. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of EAH in female 100-km ultra-marathoners and to compare them to male ultra-runners since females are considered more at risk of EAH. Methods. Changes in body mass, hematocrit, [Na+] and [K+] levels in both plasma and urine, plasma volume, urine specific gravity, and the intake of energy, fluids and electrolytes was determined in 24 male and 19 female 100-km ultra-marathoners. Results. Three male (11%) and one female (5%) ultra-marathoners developed asymptomatic EAH. Body mass decreased, while plasma [Na+], plasma [K+] and hematocrit remained stable in either gender. Plasma volume, urine specific gravity and the potassium-to-sodium ratio in urine increased in either gender. In males, fluid intake was related to running speed (r = 0.50, p = 0.0081), but not to the change in body mass, in post-race plasma [Na+], in the change in hematocrit and in the change in plasma volume. Also in males, the change in hematocrit was related to both the change in plasma [Na+] (r = 0.45, p = 0.0187) and the change in the potassium-to-sodium ratio in urine (r = 0.39, p = 0.044). Sodium intake was neither related to post-race plasma [Na+] nor to the change in plasma volume. Conclusions. The prevalence of EAH was not higher in female compared to male 100-km ultra-marathoners. Plasma volume and plasma [Na+] were maintained and not related to fluid intake, most probably due to an activation of the reninangiotensin-aldosterone-system.

Open access

Mathias Wolfrum, Christoph Alexander Rüst, Thomas Rosemann, Romuald Lepers and Beat Knechtle

Abstract

Effects of course length (25 m versus 50 m) and advances in performance of individual medley swimming were examined for men and women in Swiss national competitions and FINA World Championships during 2000-2011. Linear regression and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to analyse 200 m and 400 m race results for 26,081 swims on the Swiss high score list and 382 FINA finalists. Swiss and FINA swimmers of both sexes were, on average, 4.3±3.2% faster on short courses for both race distances. Sex-related differences in swim speed were significantly greater for FINA swimmers competing in short-course events than in long-course events (10.3±0.2% versus 9.7±0.3%, p<0.01), but did not differ for Swiss swimmers (p>0.05). Sex-related differences in swimming speed decreased with increasing race distance for both short- and long-course events for Swiss athletes, and for FINA athletes in long-course events. Performance improved significantly (p<0.05) during 2000-2011 for FINA men competing in either course length and FINA females competing in short-course events, but not for Swiss swimmers. Overall, the results showed that men and women individual medley swimmers, competing at both national and international levels, have faster average swimming speeds on short courses than on long courses, for both 200 m and 400 m distances. FINA athletes demonstrate an improving performance in the vast majority of individual medley events, while performance at national level seems to have reached a plateau during 2000-2011

Open access

Beat Knechtle, Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Thomas Rosemann and Christoph A. Rüst

Abstract

Performance trends in elite butterfly swimmers are well known, but less information is available regarding master butterfly swimmers. We investigated trends in participation, performance and sex differences in 9,606 female and 13,250 male butterfly race times classified into five-year master groups, from 25-29 to 90-94 years, competing in the FINA World Masters Championships between 1986 and 2014. Trends in participation were analyzed using linear regression analysis. Trends in performance changes were investigated using mixed-effects regression analyses with sex, distance and a calendar year as fixed variables. We also considered interaction effects between sex and distance. Participation increased in master swimmers older than ~30-40 years. The men-to-women ratio remained unchanged across calendar years and master groups, but was lower in 200 m compared to 50 m and 100 m. Men were faster than women from 25-29 to 85-89 years (p < 0.05), although not for 90-94 years. Sex and distance showed a significant interaction in all master groups from 25-29 to 90-94 years for 200m (p < 0.05). For 50 m and 100 m, a significant sex × distance interaction was observed from 25-29 to 75-79 years (p < 0.05), but not in the older groups. In 50 m, women reduced the sex difference in master groups 30-34 to 60-64 years (p < 0.05). In 100 m, women decreased the gap to men in master groups 35-39 to 55-59 years (p < 0.05). In 200 m, the sex difference was reduced in master groups 30-34 to 40-44 years (p < 0.05). In summary, women and men improved performance at all distances, women were not slower compared to men in the master group 90-94 years; moreover, women reduced the gap to men between ~30 and ~60 years, although not in younger or older master groups.

Open access

Matthias Alexander Zingg, Mathias Wolfrum, Christoph Alexander Rüst, Thomas Rosemann, Romuald Lepers and Beat Knechtle

Abstract

Purpose. Recent studies have suggested that the age of peak freestyle swimming speed is reached earlier in life in women than in men. However, no study has investigated the age of peak swimming speed in other swimming styles such as butterfly. The aims of the present study were to investigate the age of peak swimming speed in elite male and female butterfly and freestyle swimmers at the national level (Switzerland) and the sex differences in both the age of peak swimming speed and swimming speed for both swimming styles. Methods. Results of the elite Swiss swimmers between 2006 and 2010 were analysed using one-way analysis of variance. Results. In butterfly, women achieved peak swimming speed at 20-21 years in the 50 m, 100 m and 200 m, whereas men reached their fastest swimming speed in the 50 m at 20-21 years and in both the 100 m and 200 m at 18-19 years. In freestyle, women achieved peak swimming speed at 20-21 years for all distances. Men were the fastest at 22-23 years for both the 100 m and 200 m and at 26-27 years for the 50 m. In the butterfly, the sex difference in swimming speed was highest in the 50 m and lowest in the 200 m (14.1% ± 0.2 in the 50 m, 12.6% ± 1.0 in the 100 m and 8.7% ± 1.8 in the 200 m). Additionally, the sex difference in freestyle swimming speed was highest in the 50 m and lowest in the 200 m (16.2% ± 0.5 in the 50 m, 15.9% ± 0.4 in 100 m and 14.9% ± 1.0 in 200 m). Conclusions. These findings suggest that peak swimming speed was achieved earlier in life in men compared with women for the 100 m and 200 m butterfly distances but not in the 50 m butterfly. In freestyle, peak swimming speed was achieved at younger ages in women compared with men. The sex difference in peak swimming speed was lower in the butterfly than in freestyle.