BREASTSTROKE SWIMMERS ALTER TECHNIQUE AS A 100-m RACE PROGRESSES

Oxford, S. W., James, R., Price, M., & Payton, C. (2010). Coordination changes during a maximal effort 100 m short-course breaststroke swim. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study: (1) investigated co-ordination changes during a 100-m short course breaststroke swim and (2) compared kinematic variables between each of the four laps as the swimmers progressed through the 100-m swim. Trained breaststroke swimmers (M = 18; F = 8) performed a maximal effort 100-m swim from a water start, in a 25-m pool. Each lap was recorded underwater using three video cameras (one at each end of the pool and a third mounted on a trolley [sagittal plane]). The last three strokes of each length before the turn were analyzed to determine the duration of arm recovery, arm propulsion, leg recovery, and transition phases. Stroke rate, stroke length, and clean swim speed were analyzed within a 10-m section of the pool that was not affected by starting, turning, or finishing.

Clean swim speed decreased from the first to the fourth lap with an overall significant mean decrease in clean swim speed of 8.3% in 24 swimmers. There was no significant change in either mean stroke rate or mean stroke length from the first to the fourth lap. Transition time from the end of the leg kick to the commencement of the arm pull decreased as the swim progressed but did not achieve statistical significance.

Implication. Breaststroke swimmers slow as a 100-m race progresses and they became fatigued. One attempt to maintain swimming speed is to decrease transition time between strokes. If reduction in transition time is important in a race, it would seem to be a reasonable coaching strategy to develop a technique that has minimal transition time right from the start.

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