Swimming performance after passive and active recovery of various durations

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2008 Sep;3(3):375-86. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.3.3.375.


Purpose: To examine the effects of active and passive recovery of various durations after a 100-m swimming test performed at maximal effort.

Methods: Eleven competitive swimmers (5 males, 6 females, age: 17.3 +/- 0.6 y) completed two 100-m tests with a 15-min interval at a maximum swimming effort under three experimental conditions. The recovery between tests was 15 min passive (PAS), 5 min active, and 10 min passive (5ACT) or 10 min active and 5 min passive (10ACT). Self-selected active recovery started immediately after the first test, corresponding to 60 +/- 5% of the 100-m time. Blood samples were taken at rest, 5, 10, and 15 min after the first as well as 5 min after the second 100-m test for blood lactate determination. Heart rate was also recorded during the corresponding periods.

Results: Performance time of the first 100 m was not different between conditions (P > .05). The second 100-m test after the 5ACT (64.49 +/- 3.85 s) condition was faster than 10ACT (65.49 +/- 4.63 s) and PAS (65.89 +/- 4.55 s) conditions (P < .05). Blood lactate during the 15-min recovery period between the 100-m efforts was lower in both active recovery conditions compared with passive recovery (P < .05). Heart rate was higher during the 5ACT and 10ACT conditions compared with PAS during the 15-min recovery period (P < .05).

Conclusion: Five minutes of active recovery during a 15-min interval period is adequate to facilitate blood lactate removal and enhance performance in swimmers. Passive recovery and/or 10 min of active recovery is not recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Swimming / physiology*


  • Lactic Acid