Michielon, G., Scurati, R., Longo, S., & Invernizzi, P. L. (2009). Gender and learning the butterfly stroke technique. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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This study evaluated and compared the learning of the butterfly stroke technique in young male (N = 8) and female (N = 10) beginner swimmers. Aquatic skills of technical level, hydrodynamics, and performance in 50m breaststroke were set as the criteria for homogeneity. Ss attended a 10-class program (50 minutes each class) and were taught the butterfly stroke by a mixed analytic-global method: analytic in the first half of the class and global in the second half. Evaluation and analysis of the stroke learning process were carried out by a final 25 m butterfly stroke swim. A qualitative analysis of stroke elements such as balance, arm-to-legs coordination, stroke rhythm, kick, underwater arm stroke phase, arm recovery, and head control was carried out. Performance factors of stroke length and stroke rate were collected for a quantitative analysis. Swimming mean velocity and a Swimming Index were calculated.

Males performed arm-to-leg coordination and underwater arm stroke better than females. They kept the hips lower underwater and the shoulders higher during recovery. Females showed better rhythm and arm recovery, staying higher on the water and better performing the anticipation of the head movement. Significant differences were found in the 25 m performance; males were faster, stroke length was longer, stroke rate was higher, but stroke index was not different between the genders.

Implication. Male beginner swimmers learn and perform butterfly stroke differently to females. However, using qualitative factors, there is little difference between the genders in response to butterfly stroke instruction.

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