HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D., R.Psy.
KRISZTINA EGERSZEGI'S FULL STROKE AT 65 m OF HER 100 m BACKSTROKE GOLD MEDAL SWIM AT THE BARCELON OLYMPIC GAMES 1992
This sequence provides another perspective of Krisztina Egerszegi's stroke in the 100 m backstroke event, which she won easily, at the Barcelona Olympic Games. Comments in this evaluation should be considered along with those pertaining to her stroke at the 25 m mark. Each frame is .1 second apart.
- Frame #1: The right arm entry is made while the left arm propulsive phase is in its latter stage. The right arm is not straight and has the wrist slightly adducted which accounts for the upper arm and hand breaking the water surface before the forearm. The hand position on contacting the water is close to being on the back but with the little finger being slightly lower than the thumb. The left arm propulsion is continued with the arm being extended and the hand, with the thumb on top, pushing back. The shoulders and hips are still slightly inclined to the left.
- Frame #2: The right arm is straightened immediately upon entering the water. The hand is rolled to achieve a position where it will be able to apply force backward and slightly downward. The right leg prepares to kick to assist the hips and shoulders to roll to the left to better facilitate a direct press backward. The left arm is extended and its direct propulsive action almost completed. At this stage, the left arm would be slowing down as the elbow joint is near its full movement range.
- Frame #3: The right leg kicks to roll the shoulders and hips to the right. The right wrist is rolled so that the hand is slightly beyond vertical. The right elbow is bending. The right upper-arm is being adducted. The slightly downward movement and hand orientation assist the shoulders to roll further. These actions are setting the arm to apply force backward with the hand/forearm surface. An unusual action occurs with the left hand that was not exhibited at 25 m. The hand is rotated to push down, possibly to create some force to facilitate shoulder/hip roll. At 25 m the hand performed an inward-sculling movement at this stage.
- Frame #4: Adduction of the upper arm is continued with the hand/forearm propulsive surface being clearly exhibited. Throughout this early part of the pull, the elbow bends so that the propulsive surface can apply propulsion almost directly backward. If the elbow angle remained fixed, then the propulsive surface would "slide" to the side and have its potential to create relatively direct propulsive forces reduced. The right leg kick is completed which is in concert with maximum hip and shoulder roll to the right. The left leg is preparing to kick. The dropping of the leg in this preparatory movement will also assist hip rotation to the right.
- Frame #5: The right leg kicks to counter-balance the vertical forces created by the recovering left arm. Without that movement the shoulders, and to a lesser extent the hips, would sink and reduce the body's streamline. The kick also stops rotation of the hips to the right and commences their roll to the left. Adduction of the right upper arm continues along with elbow bending. The movement path of the hand places the hand higher than in earlier stages of the pull. This should not to be confused with an S-shaped pull because the elbow and upper arm are being moved directly backward.
- Frame #6: The hand/forearm is still applying force directly back. Adduction of the upper arm is nearing the end of its usefulness and the elbow and hand need to change to extension at the elbow to continue propulsion. The hips have continued to roll from the right and along with the shoulders are flat. The left leg dropping down in preparation for a kick will assist in continued hips and shoulder roll.
- Frame #7: The right arm has entered the elbow extension phase but to maintain backward propulsive forces, the wrist is hyperextended. The right leg is lowered to prepare for a kick that will counter-balance the initial left arm pull and possibly, the arm recovery.
- Frame #8: The left arm has broken the surface and immediately the hand is positioned (the wrist is both flexed and adducted) to exert a backward force. The left shoulder is elevated to facilitate the longest stroke possible. The right arm has vigorously sculled inward. The right shoulder has exited the water but the lower arm and hand are still covered. The head is lowered further into the water.
- Frame #9: The right leg kicks moderately to offset the initial pulling and lateral forces of the left arm pull as well as counter-balance some of the vertical forces created by the right arm recovery. The elbow bends further. Adduction of the upper arm begins slowly. The right arm has exited the water.
- Frame #10: The hand/forearm moves much faster than the elbow, which continues to bend. This is caused by medial rotation of the upper left arm, which is required to produce an "elbow-up" position. This allows the hand/forearm propulsive surface to apply force over a longer distance (from further in front of the head) than that achieved with the right arm. The shoulders and hips are at the maximum angle of rotation and have stopped in preparation to roll back to the left.
- Frame #11: The upper right arm is adducted while the hand/forearm provide propulsive forces directly backward. The left leg is lowered in preparation to kick. The right leg continues its kicking movement to the surface. The inversion of the right foot would facilitate producing a lateral force to offset a lateral force component in the arm pull.
- Frame #12: The very direct propulsive action of the left arm continues as the upper arm continues adduction. The right arm recovery nears vertical. The left leg is in the initial stages of its kick to counter-balance the vertical forces of the recovering arm.
- Frame #13: Left arm adduction is nearly completed and the lower arm is beginning extension. The right leg is lowered to prepare to counter-balance the right arm early pull and to rotate the hips to the right in concert with the entry.
- Frame #14: The left arm extends and the overall position is similar to that depicted in frame #1.
- Frames #15-16: Movements are replicated once again. The left hand turns over while still deep and extended. It would seem that the inward sculling movement of the latter part of Krisztina Egerszegi's pull is fully accomplished with the right arm but terminated in the left arm when the right arm commences its propulsion.
The left arm's re-positioning immediately after entry to create the earliest propulsive force possible (medial rotation of the upper arm, elbow and wrist flexion) from the longest entry position possible (elevated shoulder) is followed by adduction of the upper arm employing both the internal and external rotators of the shoulder. The propulsive surface is the arm/forearm combination. This is a classic action that is not demonstrated fully with the right arm pull.
The latter part of the pull is worthy of attention. The hand/forearm perform an inward sculling movement which is very different to the commonly coached "downward-push" that is supposed to produce the latter part of an S-shaped pull. A complete inward scull is performed with the right arm but terminated early and underwater with the left arm.
The roll of the shoulders and hips cancels out major vertical components in the arm movement patterns, thus facilitating a largely direct application of a propulsive force backward.
The hip and shoulder rolls are assisted by kicks and by dropping the leg down on the turn-side. The roll of the body is continuous except for the change of direction stoppages on either side.
It is hard to explain the changing head position.
Krisztina Egerszegi's body position is quite level for the whole stroke even though the head appears to move vertically. As with all top swimmers who perform cyclic alternating strokes, the underwater movement patterns are different for each arm.
Cappaert, J. M., & Rushall, B. S. (1994). Biomechanical analyses of champion swimmers. Spring, Valley, CA: Sports Science Associates.
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