The Influence of Anthropometric, Kinematic and Energetic Variables and Gender on Swimming Performance in Youth Athletes

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The aim of this study was to assess the: (i) gender; (ii) performance and; (iii) gender versus performance interactions in young swimmers’ anthropometric, kinematic and energetic variables. One hundred and thirty six young swimmers (62 boys: 12.76 ± 0.72 years old at Tanner stages 1-2 by self-evaluation; and 64 girls: 11.89 ± 0.93 years old at Tanner stages 1-2 by self-evaluation) were evaluated. Performance, anthropometrics, kinematics and energetic variables were selected. There was a non-significant gender effect on performance, body mass, height, arm span, trunk transverse surface area, stroke length, speed fluctuation, swimming velocity, propulsive efficiency, stroke index and critical velocity. A significant gender effect was found for foot surface area, hand surface area and stroke frequency. A significant sports level effect was verified for all variables, except for stroke frequency, speed fluctuation and propulsive efficiency. Overall, swimmers in quartile 1 (the ones with highest sports level) had higher anthropometric dimensions, better stroke mechanics and energetics. These traits decrease consistently throughout following quartiles up to the fourth one (i.e. swimmers with the lowest sports level). There was a non-significant interaction between gender and sports level for all variables. Our main conclusions were as follows: (i) there are non-significant differences in performance, anthropometrics, kinematics and energetics between boys and girls; (ii) swimmers with best performance are taller, have higher surface areas and better stroke mechanics; (iii) there are non-significant interactions between sports level and gender for anthropometrics, kinematics and energetics.

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