Exercise and breath holding in the water such as that performed in the sport of synchronized swimming may evoke the physiological consequences of the diving response. The purpose of this study was to investigate the physiological responses of breath holding during underwater arm cranking in synchronized swimmers who are trained in breath holding and compare these responses to untrained women. Each participant performed 6 breath holding periods in the water (2 × 10s, 2 × 20s and 2 × 25s) with 2 minutes of normal breathing in between, in either an ascending or descending order while performing arm crank exercise. The intensity of arm crank exercise was set below the individual ventilatory threshold. Both synchronized swimmers and controls were matched on sitting height and then randomly divided into 2 groups: one group started breath holding with the longest (25s) breath holding periods while the other group began breath holding with the shortest (10s) breath holding periods. The synchronized swimmers experienced a significant decrease in heart rate while breath holding for 20 and 25s but the changes in heart rate for the control group was not consistent between subgroups. Full recovery from breath holding was identified for minute ventilation after 25s of recovery from breath holding for all groups. Results suggest synchronized swimmers exhibited a better adaptation to breath holding while exercising underwater.
Andersson, J., Liner, M., Fredsteed, A. and Schagatay, E. Cardiovascular and respiratory responses to apnoeas with and without face immersion in exercising humans J of Appl Physiol 2004; 96: 1005 - 1010.
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