The effects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on swimming interval performance in trained competitive swimmers

L A Gough, J W Newbury, M Price

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The use of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO 3) supplementation to improve repeated high-intensity performance is recommended; however, most swimming performance studies examine time trial efforts rather than repeated swims with interspersed recovery that are more indicative of training sessions. The aim of this study, therefore, was to investigate the effects of 0.3 −1 BM NaHCO 3 supplementation on sprint interval swimming (8 × 50 m) in regionally trained swimmers. Fourteen regionally competitive male swimmers (body mass (BM): 73 ± 8 kg) volunteered for this double-blind, randomised, crossover designed study. Each participant was asked to swim 8 × 50 m (front crawl) at a maximum intensity from a diving block, interspersed with 50 m active recovery swimming. After one familiarisation trial, this was repeated on two separate occasions whereby participants ingested either 0.3 −1 BM NaHCO 3 or 0.05 −1 BM sodium chloride (placebo) in solution 60 min prior to exercise. Whilst there were no differences in time to complete between sprints 1–4 (p > 0.05), improvements were observed in sprint 5 (p = 0.011; ES = 0.26), 6 (p = 0.014; ES = 0.39), 7 (p = 0.005; ES = 0.60), and 8 (p = 0.004; ES = 0.79). Following NaHCO 3 supplementation, pH was greater at 60 min (p < 0.001; ES = 3.09), whilst HCO 3 was greater at 60 min (p < 0.001; ES = 3.23) and post-exercise (p = 0.016; ES = 0.53) compared to placebo. These findings suggest NaHCO 3 supplementation can improve the latter stages of sprint interval swimming performance, which is likely due to the augmentation of pH and HCO 3 prior to exercise and the subsequent increase in buffering capacity during exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1771
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number8
Early online date7 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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  • Buffering
  • Supplements
  • High-performance
  • Training
  • Alkalosis


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