Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

John Mercer

Second Committee Member

James Navalta

Third Committee Member

Graham McGinnis

Fourth Committee Member

David Lee

Number of Pages



Triathlon wetsuits are commonly used due to the potential benefits in swimming performance and thermoregulation. Triathletes may select different wetsuit styles depending on many factors such as temperature regulation, swimming technique, body type, and training purpose. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence for how different wetsuit styles affect physiological responses and swimming kinematics during submaximal swimming intensity. Therefore, this studyaimed to investigate the physiological responses and swimming kinematics during submaximal intensity front crawl swimming while wearing different wetsuit styles. Fourteen participants (n=6 male, n=8 female; all recreational triathletes or swimmers) completed a swimming graded exercise test (GXT) wearing only a swimsuit to determine maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2max). The test swimming pace for the experimental sessions was calculated as 80% of V̇ O2max from the GXT. Participants then completed four wetsuit conditions: regular swimsuit (NWS), buoyancy short (BS), sleeveless (SLW), and full sleeve wetsuit (FSW). Each swim was 4-minutes submaximal at the same test swimming pace. The order of the wetsuit conditions was randomized. All conditions were conducted in a swimming flume and metabolic measurements were made using a metabolic cart with a mixing chamber. The rate of oxygen consumption (V̇O2; ml·kg-1·min-1), rate of carbon dioxide production (V̇CO2; L·min-1), ventilation (VE; L·min-1), heart rate (HR; bpm), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and cost of transport (COT; J·kg-1·m-1) were determined as the average for the last minute of each condition. The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was assessed after each condition. Also, the time to completion of 10 strokes was measured for further general stroke characteristics analysis such as stroke rate (SR; Hz), stroke length (SL; m), and stroke index (SI; m2/s). V̇O2, V̇CO2, VE, HR, and COT were each significantly different in the main effect by wetsuit conditions (p < 0.001). RER and RPE were significantly influenced by wetsuit conditions (p < 0.05). Based on the pairwise comparison, swimming without a wetsuit was significantly higher in V̇ O2, V̇ CO2, VE, HR, and RPE relative to the other wetsuit conditions (p < 0.05). Furthermore, V̇O2, V̇CO2, and COT during swimming with buoyancy shorts were significantly higher than SLW and FSW (p < 0.05). However, all dependent variables were not statistically different between SLW and FSW (p > 0.05). Stroke kinematics were not significantly different across the wetsuit conditions (p > 0.05). Positive correlations existed between V̇O2 and HR vs. stroke kinematics (i.e., SR, SL, SI). In addition, there were positive correlations between COT and SR. However, negative correlations existed between COT vs. SL and COT vs. SI. In conclusion, swimming with a regular swimsuit is the least economical at the test pace. In addition, it seems that either SLW or FSW can be used without significant physiological changes when swimming at 80% of V̇ O2max. Stroke kinematics did not change between wetsuit conditions. In addition, improving stroke length and index may be a good strategy for improving swimming efficiency.


Stroke Kinematics; Swimming Physiology; Triathlon Swimming; Triathlon Wetsuits


Biomechanics | Kinesiology

File Format


File Size

1106 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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