The aim of this study was to estimate the influence of a 33-week swimming program on aerobic capacity, muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and body composition of adolescents with Down syndrome (DS). Twenty-two adolescents diagnosed with DS were randomly allocated into the training group (T) and the control group (C). The T group participated in 33 weeks of water-based exercise and a swimming program while the control group maintained their normal daily activity. Following thirty-three weeks of swimming program, body mass, body fat, and BMI of the T group decreased significantly (from 56.8 ± 7.97 kg to 55.0 ± 7.11 kg, from 15.1 ± 4.47 kg to 13.2 ± 3.92 kg, and from 25.1 ± 2.37 to 24.0 ± 2.05, respectively) while a significant increase was recorded in C (from 57.3 ± 8.43 kg to 59.7 ± 8.29 kg, from 14.5 ± 2.76 kg to 16.0 ± 3.11 kg, and from 25.4 ± 2.46 to 26.0 ± 2.72, respectively). Moreover, significant improvement in aerobic capacity in the T group was noted; VO2max (mL/kg/min) increased by 16.3% in T and decreased by 4.8% in C. Improvement in static arm strength, trunk strength and endurance/functional strength were noted in T, while the parameters did not change in C. The speed of arm movement, balance and flexibility did not change following the intervention. Also, the aquatic skills improved significantly in the training group. Changes in C were not significant. The results of our study indicate that 33-week swimming program significantly improved health status and swimming skills in adolescents with DS.
Keywords: Down syndrome; aerobic capacity; body composition; muscle strength; swimming program.