Decrement in Swimming Performance with Added Burden of Outer Clothing

The Open Sports Sciences Journal 31 July 2018 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1875399X01811010060



Most drowning occurs after an involuntary fall into open deep water. Thus, the victim is usually wearing outer clothing. The added burden of clothing may reduce the chance of survival.


Grade Four children (n = 490) swam a 200 m combined test, twice, half with outer clothing first, half without. The test included jump or dive into deep water, swim 100 m on the front, stop and rest 3 min front and back, swim 100 m on the back and climb out over edge of pool. Each skill was scored from 0 to 2.0, a perfect score being 12.0. The Wilcoxen Signed Rank test was used to test the significance of the difference between treatments. Total scores with and without outer clothing were correlated using the Spearman rho.


The average total scores were 10.65 without outer clothing and 8.55 with (of 12.0). The Wilcoxen Z score was 2.79, statistically significant at p = 0.005. The Spearman rho between the two scores was 0.41. Of those who were judged able to swim without outer clothing, a significant number were judged unable to swim with outer clothing. This was true at whatever level “can swim” was arbitrarily placed. Among those who scored best, the difference between without and with clothing was considerably less than among those who scored poorly.


The added burden of clothing significantly affected skill performance. It cannot be assumed that one who can swim without outer clothing, can swim with. The moderate correlation between scores suggests that economical movement may be the quality which transfers from without to with clothing.

Keywords: Swim with clothes vs without, Combined test, Decrement, “Can swim”, Water safety, Wilcoxen Signed Rank, Deep water.
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