Purpose: While the static and dynamic lung volumes of active swimmers is often greater than the predicted volume of similarly active non-swimmers, little is known if their ventilatory response to exercise is also different.
Methods: Three groups of anthropometrically matched male adults were recruited, daily active swimmers (n = 15), daily active in fields sport (Rugby and Football) (n = 15), and recreationally active (n = 15). Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) was measured before and after exercise to volitional exhaustion.
Results: Swimmers had significantly larger FVC (6.2 ± 0.6 l, 109 ± 9% pred) than the other groups (5.6 ± 0.5 l, 106 ± 13% pred, 5.5 ± 0.8, 99% pred, the sportsmen and recreational groups, respectively). FEV1 and MVV were not different. While at peak exercise, all groups reached their ventilatory reserve (around 20%), the swimmers had a greater minute ventilation rate than the recreational group (146 ± 19 vs 120 ± 87 l/min), delivering this volume by breathing deeper and slower.
Conclusions: The swimmers utilised their larger static volumes (FVC) differently during exercise by meeting their ventilation volume through long and deep breaths.