HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT

Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D., R.Psy.

STEFAN NYSTRAND AT 65 m OF HIS WORLD RECORD SHORT-COURSE 100 m FREESTYLE RACE IN BERLIN (November 18, 2007)

Each frame is .13 seconds apart. Stefan Nystrandís record swim for this event was 45.83. [The pixilated form of this set of images was contained in the original clip. Despite the poor image quality, it is still possible to gain an understanding of the swimmerís stroke.]

This stroke analysis includes a moving sequence in real time, a moving sequence where each frame is displayed for .5 of a second, and still frames.

The following image sequence is in real time. It will play through 10 times and then stop. To repeat the sequence, click the browser's "refresh" or "reload" button.

The following image sequence shows each frame for half a second. It will play through 10 times and then stop. To repeat the sequence, click the browser's "refresh" or "reload" button.

At the end of the following narrative, each frame is illustrated in detail in a sequential collage.

Notable Features

Stefan Nystrand demonstrates a sprinting technique that contradicts many of the espoused properties of successful sprint swimming where direct propulsive forces are produced. However, he does display characteristics that offset the criticized elements of his stroke.

The swimmer recovers with almost vertical straight-arms. The vertical forces created by the pronounced movement arcs cause alterations in underwater actions. The following video clip illustrates the pronounced straight arm recoveries. It occurs 17+ seconds into the race.

Because of his high rate of ballistic stroking, Stefan Nystrand is unusual in that he performs a 4-beat kick. Kicks of each leg counterbalance the entry and exit of each opposite arm. The high rate does not allow sufficient time to perform six leg movements. That restriction is emphasized by the need to execute very large leg movements to counterbalance the very large vertical forces created by the arm actions, particularly on entry.

Stefan Nystrand displays movement features that can be criticized and yet he is still the fastest swimmer in the world over 100-m short-course. The deficiencies (e.g., streamline disruption, less-than-direct propulsive forces, and huge retarding kicks) are offset by three obvious features which cumulatively may be more beneficial than the deficiencies are harmful. Those three features are:

Stefan Nystrand may well have illustrated some features of sprint swimming that are particularly effective for him and possibly for other swimmers. He has taken arm rating to a new high, has reduced the number of kicks (which this writer has always argued are not propulsive in crawl stroke), and shown that the total arm is capable of producing a large propulsive force in the "middle" of the underwater pull. The combination of those factors has developed an improved consistency in force application which has resulted in the maintenance of higher velocity. Stefan Nystrand's sprint speed is understandable.

Stefan Nystrand

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