Existing studies of athletic career mainly focused on analyzing the age of peak competitive performance for elite swimmers (Pyne et al., 2004; Sian et al. 2014&2015). However, Liu et al. (2014) and Li
(2015) have studied the whole athletic career. In their framework, the first medal age, β, was defined as the age when winning first medal in the international sports games, which was marked as the
starting point of best performance; the peak age, h0, was defined as the age when showing the peak performance during athletic career; the retirement age, y0, was defined as the age when announcing
the retirement officially, which was marked as endpoint of maintaining best performance period; the sport life-span was defined as the period from the first medal age to the retirement age; the rising
period, h0 - β, was defined as the period from the first medal age to the peak age, which was also called best performance period; and the declining period, y0 - h0, was defined as the period from the
peak age to the retirement age, which was also called best-performance-maintaining period. The rising and declining periods were supposed to be symmetrical with each other so that they had the formula
of athletic career, y0 = 2 h0 - β. Whether the formula held for world-class elite swimmers was studied in this paper.
104 medalists who have participated in individual swimming events of the Olympic Games between 2000 and 2012 who have officially retired were studied. Athletic career formula was verified by the
correlation and the significant difference between rising and declining periods which was tested by Pearson Correlation Coefficient and Paired Sample T Test.
The rising (5.0 ± 3.5 years) and declining (5.0 ± 2.6 years) periods of World-Class Elite Swimmers were significantly correlative with the sport lifespan at R = 0.752 ( P < 0.01）and R=0.574 ( P <
The ratio of raising and declining periods to the sport lifespan was 51% and 49% (P > 0.05).
The peak (23.0 ± 3.5 years) and retirement (28.0 ± 3.8 years) ages were significantly correlated with the calculated ones (23.0 ± 2.5 and 29.0 ± 6.6 years) at R=0.753 and R=0.708 according to athletic
career formula (P<0.01).
According to K-Mean Cluster Analysis based on the ratio of the raising and declining periods to the sport lifespan, the 104 swimmers were divided into three groups, 56 % in the ideal career group (49
to 51%), 23 % in the too-early retirement group (81 to 19%) and 21 % in the too-lately retirement group (21 to 79%). By Fisher Discriminant, the classification accuracy for all the swimmers, and the
ideal career, too-early and too-lately retirement group was 94%, 93%, 91% and 100%, respectively.
The formula of athletic career may hold for world-class elite swimmers.
The sport lifespan for world-class elite swimmers may be of symmetrical characteristic. The rising and declining periods may be symmetric with each other.
The ratio of rising and declining periods may be used to evaluate and classify the development of swimmer career.