Craig, A. B., Jr., & Pendergast, D. R. (1979). Relationships of stroke rate, distance per stroke, and velocity in competitive swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 11, 278-283.

The stroking rate and distance per stroke were evaluated against different swimming speeds in all four strokes. It was found that:

Implications. The stroking rate used by swimmers during training will generally be slower than that associated with the rate appropriate for the fastest race speed.

Coaches should learn to distinguish between the optimal desirable rate and less desirable rates of stroking for more accurate race analysis. As the rate increases, the distance per stroke decreases, but only up to a point. When the two are optimized for a swimmer, the fastest performance will be possible.

Measuring stroke rate and the number of strokes per lap (a measure of distance per stroke) can be used to tell when an athlete is or is not performing optimally.

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