Maturation-based Corrective Adjustment Procedures (Mat-CAPs) in youth swimming: Evidence for restricted age-group application in females

PLoS One. 2022 Oct 7;17(10):e0275797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275797. eCollection 2022.


Inter-individual differences in maturation-associated development can lead to variations in physical performance, resulting in performance (dis)advantages and maturation selection bias within youth sport systems. To address such bias and account for maturational differences, Maturation-based Corrective Adjustment Procedures (Mat-CAPs) could be beneficial. The present study aimed to: (1) determine maturity timing distributions in youth female swimming; (2) quantify the relationship between maturation status and 100-m front-crawl (FC) performance; (3) implement Mat-CAPs to remove maturational influences upon swimming performance. For Aim 1 and 2, participants were 663 female (10-15 years) swimmers who participated in 100-m FC events at Australian regional, state, and national-level competitions between 2016-2020 and underwent anthropometric assessment (mass, height and sitting height) to estimate maturity timing and offset. For Aim 3, participants aged 10-13 years were categorised into maturity timing categories. Maturity timing distributions for Raw ('All', 'Top 50%' and 'Top 25%') and Correctively Adjusted swim times were examined. Chi-square, Cramer's V and Odds Ratios determined the presence of maturation biases, while Mat-CAPs identified whether such biases were removed in targeted age and selection-groups. Results identified that between 10-13 years, a significantly higher frequency of 'early' maturers was apparent, although tapered toward higher frequencies of 'Late-normative' maturers by 14-15 years. A curvilinear relationship between maturity-offset and swim performance was identified (R2 = 0.51, p<0.001) and utilised for Mat-CAPs. Following Mat-CAPs application, maturity timing biases evident in affected age-groups (10-13 years), and which were magnified at higher selection levels ('Top 50%' & '25%' of swim performances) were predominantly removed. Findings highlight how maturation advantages in females occurred until approximately 13 years old, warranting restricted Mat-CAPs application. Mat-CAPS has the potential to improve female swimmer participation experiences and evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Swimming
  • Youth Sports*

Grants and funding

The authors received funding through the Project H2gr0w, from Swimming Australia ( The funders played a role in study design and data collection.