Reliability and Validity of a Pool-Based Maximal Oxygen Uptake Test to Examine High-Intensity Short-Duration Freestyle Swimming Performance

Elizabeth F. Nagle, Takashi Nagai, Anne Z. Beethe, Mita T. Lovalekar, Jacquelyn N. Zera, Christopher Connaboy, John P. Abt, Kimberly Beals, Bradley C. Nindl, Robert J. Robertson, Scott M. Lephart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nagle, EF, Nagai, T, Beethe, AZ, Lovalekar, MT, Zera, JN, Connaboy, C, Abt, JP, Beals, K, Nindl, BC, Robertson, RJ, and Lephart, SM. Reliability and validity of a pool-based maximal oxygen uptake test to examine high-intensity short-duration freestyle swimming performance. J Strength Cond Res 33(5): 1208-1215, 2019-A modality-specific swimming protocol to assess maximal oxygen uptake (Vo2maxsw) is essential to accurately prescribe and monitor swimming conditioning programs. Consequently, there is a need for a reliable and valid graded intensity swimming pool test to accurately assess Vo2maxsw using indirect calorimetry. The purpose of this study was to assess (a) reliability of an intensity self-regulated swimming pool test of Vo2maxsw and (b) validity of a Vo2maxsw test using performance swim (PS) time as the criterion. Twenty-nine men (n = 15) and women (n = 14) (age, 23 ± 6.4 years; body mass index, 23.5 ± 3.0 kg·m-2) performed 2 swimming pool Vo2maxsw trials (Vo2maxsw A and Vo2maxsw B), and 2 PS tests (45.7 m [31.20 ± 4.5 seconds] and 182 m [159.2 ± 25.5 seconds]). For test-retest reliability (trials A vs. B), strong correlations (p < 0.05) were found for Vo2maxsw (ml·kg-1·min-1) (r = 0.899), O2 pulse (ml O2·beat-1) (r = 0.833), and maximum expired ventilatory volume (L·min-1) (r = 0.785). For performance validity, moderately strong correlations (p < 0.05) were found between Vo2maxsw A and 45.7-m (r =-0.543) and 182-m (r =-0.486) swim times. The self-regulated graded intensity swimming pool protocol examined presently is a reliable and valid test of Vo2maxsw. Studies should consider the suitability of a Vo2maxsw test for military personnel, clinical populations, and injured athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1208-1215
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Dennis Dever, MS, and Mary Cristafio, MS, for their assistance with the study. In addition, the authors acknowledge the University of Pittsburgh Facilities Management team as well as Heather Bansbach, PhD, for their design and innovation of the pool pulley system. Correspondence may be addressed to: Elizabeth F. Nagle, PhD. 140 Trees Hall Pittsburgh PA 15261; (412) 648–8268 (phone); (412) 638–7092 (Fax); This study was funded by the Office of Naval Research: N00014-14-1-0022/N00014-15-0069. The results of this study do not constitute endorsement of the product by the authors of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Supported by ONR: N00014-14-1-0022/N00014-15-0069


  • competitive swimmers
  • maximal aerobic power
  • self-regulating intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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