Water Sports

Document Type



The purpose of this study was to test whether swimmers become further motivated by swimming in a relay team compared to swimming on their own, which results in increased performance. Particularly, we assume that this increased motivation results in a performance that even exceeds their best performance achieved in individual competitions (their personal best). However, because the often-observed performance gains in relay swimming are the sum of relay start benefits and increased motivation caused by teamwork it is necessary to determine the advantage that is caused by a relay start (Fischer, 2017; Qiu et al., 2021) to accurately evaluate relay versus individual performances. But to date, the proportion of these two components remains unclear. The results of the current research show that most of the fastest swimmers from the last 20 years swam faster in a relay race. Thus, they exceeded their personal best (from an individual race) in a relay race due to the social influences of the team membership. Furthermore, the share of the performance that is due to increased motivation is markedly larger than that of the relay start benefit. This study is the first quantifying the motivation gains component in relay swimming.