Relative Age Effect in Elite Swimmers in U14 Czech Championship



PURPOSE The issue of the Relative Age Effect (RAE) has been studied in the theory of sports for more than 30 years. Most studies concentrate on team sports, while the area of some individual sports like swimming can be considered still underexplored.

METHODS The aim of our study was to verify the RAE in young elite swimmers (n = 198) who participated in Czech Republic U14 Championship (1) in male and female samples (2) according to swimming disciplines and distances (3) and performance (times in individual disciplines) between individual quartiles / semesters of birth. The analysis was performed with the use of adequate statistical (chi-square test, Kruskal-Wallis H test, Mann-Whitney U test) and effect size (effect size w index, eta-square test, effect size r index) tests.

RESULTS The results showed a different intensity of RAE sex-differences (male: w = 0.033; female: w = 0.006). In the division by the swimming disciplines and swimming distances, statistically significant values with large effect size were found in males in 50 m freestyle, 200 m individual medley, 100 m butterfly and 200 m butterfly. However, this did not apply for girls. Analysis of differences in performance showed a significant difference between the dependent variables (sex, distance, discipline) by different independent variables of quartile / semester of birth with large effect size only in cases of male 100 m breaststroke and female 200 m individual medley.

CONCLUSIONS The issue of RAE should be circulated among the coaches working with youth, athletes, sports organizations, but also parents of athletes in order to avoid the termination of actively spent time or drop-outs.

birthdate; performance; sport; swimming; sex; adolescence

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