Jorge E Morais, Daniel A Marinho, João P Oliveira, Tatiana Sampaio, Tiago Lopes, Tiago M Barbosa
Understanding the difference in each upper limb between age groups can provide deeper insights into swimmers’ propulsion. This study aimed to: (1) compare swimming velocity and a set of kinematical variables between junior and juvenile swimmers and (2) compare the propulsion outputs through discrete and continuous analyses (Statistical Parametric Mapping—SPM) between junior and juvenile swimmers for each upper limb (i.e., dominant and non-dominant). The sample was composed of 22 male swimmers (12 juniors with 16.35 ± 0.74 years; 10 juveniles with 15.40 ± 0.32 years). A set of kinematic and propulsion variables was measured at maximum swimming velocity. Statistical Parametric Mapping was used as a continuous analysis approach to identify differences in the propulsion of both upper limbs between junior and juvenile swimmers. Junior swimmers were significantly faster than juveniles (p = 0.04, d = 0.86). Although juniors showed higher propulsion values, the SPM did not reveal significant differences (p < 0.05) for dominant and non-dominant upper limbs between the two age groups. This indicates that other factors (such as drag) may be responsible for the difference in swimming velocity. Coaches and swimmers should be aware that an increase in propulsion alone may not immediately lead to an increase in swimming velocity..