The Open Sports Sciences Journal

ISSN: ― Volume ,

Decrement in Swimming Performance with Added Burden of Outer Clothing

Bente W. Laakso1, 2, 3, *, Ebbe K. Horneman2, Rannei Grimstad1, 2, Robert Keig Stallman3
1 Department of sea rescue, Norwegian Lifesaving Society, Norwegian Swimming Federation, Lillehammer Community, Oslo, Norway
2 Department of sea rescue, Lillehammer University College, Oslo, Norway
3 Department of sea rescue, Norwegian School of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway



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.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2018
Volume: 11
First Page: 60
Last Page: 68
Publisher Id: TOSSJ-11-60
DOI: 10.2174/1875399X01811010060

Article History:

Received Date: 20/5/2018
Revision Received Date: 7/7/2018
Acceptance Date: 11/7/2018
Electronic publication date: 31/07/2018
Collection year: 2018

© 2018 Laakso et al

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of sea rescue, Norwegian Lifesaving Society, Norwegian Swimming Federation, Lillehammer Community, Oslo, Norway; E-mail:

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