Purpose: This study aimed to describe the career performance progression of elite early- and later-success international swimmers competing in sprint events (ie, 50 and 100 m). Methods: The career performance trajectories of 6003 swimmers (50.9% females; 58,760 unique records) competing in the 4 swimming strokes were evaluated. Swimmers with early and later success were identified. The authors identified the top 50 all-time swimmers competing in junior career who did not reach the top 50 rankings in their senior career, and vice versa, and successful swimmers in both junior and senior career. Results: Early-success swimmers mainly achieved their peak performance before the age of 20 years and approximately 5–6 years before successful senior swimmers or approximately 3–4 years before successful swimmers both in junior and senior careers. The annual performance improvements of later-success swimmers were higher (about 1%–2%) until the age of 20 to 24 years, whereas early-success swimmers showed a performance stagnation at about 16 to 18 years in females and 19 to 20 years in males. Conclusions: Early-success swimmers who achieved peak performance at a young age were unable to maintain the same level of competitiveness in adulthood as they experienced a plateau in performance from the age of 20 years. The procedure of considering early performances solely for talent identification (and not the current rate of progression) might represent a limited approach for selecting future elite swimmers. Our results indicate that performance progression in the transition toward adult careers might be a strong indicator of performance potential.

Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater: Talent in Swimming Sprinting Events Might Be Hidden at Early Age

Brustio, Paolo Riccardo
First
;
Lupo, Corrado;Boccia, Gennaro
Last
2022-01-01

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to describe the career performance progression of elite early- and later-success international swimmers competing in sprint events (ie, 50 and 100 m). Methods: The career performance trajectories of 6003 swimmers (50.9% females; 58,760 unique records) competing in the 4 swimming strokes were evaluated. Swimmers with early and later success were identified. The authors identified the top 50 all-time swimmers competing in junior career who did not reach the top 50 rankings in their senior career, and vice versa, and successful swimmers in both junior and senior career. Results: Early-success swimmers mainly achieved their peak performance before the age of 20 years and approximately 5–6 years before successful senior swimmers or approximately 3–4 years before successful swimmers both in junior and senior careers. The annual performance improvements of later-success swimmers were higher (about 1%–2%) until the age of 20 to 24 years, whereas early-success swimmers showed a performance stagnation at about 16 to 18 years in females and 19 to 20 years in males. Conclusions: Early-success swimmers who achieved peak performance at a young age were unable to maintain the same level of competitiveness in adulthood as they experienced a plateau in performance from the age of 20 years. The procedure of considering early performances solely for talent identification (and not the current rate of progression) might represent a limited approach for selecting future elite swimmers. Our results indicate that performance progression in the transition toward adult careers might be a strong indicator of performance potential.
2022
17
11
1550
1557
career trajectories; rate of performance improvement; talent development; talent identification
Brustio, Paolo Riccardo; Cardinale, Marco; Lupo, Corrado; Boccia, Gennaro
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1894207
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