HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
MICHAEL KLIM'S FULL STROKE AT 130 m OF HIS 200 m FREESTYLE GOLD MEDAL RACE AT THE 1998 PERTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Each frame is .1 second apart.
- Frame #1: The right arm entry occurs as the result of an attempted straight arm recovery. It is well in front of the swimmer and exhibits no deliberate slide forward under water. The shoulders are flat. The left arm is at the end of upper arm adduction in the propulsive phase. The forearm/hand surface provides the propulsive surface. The left leg has kicked to counter-balance the vertical force component of the left arm entry. The alignment of the torso hips and trailing legs is straight. The right leg prepares to kick but starts with the foot out of the water.
- Frame #2: The right arm extends forward as a result of elevation of the right shoulder. The right hand is pitched slightly above horizontal so that it planes forward and remains relatively high. The shoulders rotate slightly more than the hips. The lifting of the left hip will allow the hand to exit the water closer to the swimmer's centerline than if it was flat. The head turns to the left to breathe. The left arm continues to extend backward but at this stage is approaching the limit of horizontal force production and is transitioning to a round-out movement to extract the arm from the water. The right leg begins to kick to counter-balance the left arm extraction. The swimmer is still streamlined well.
- Frame #3: The right arm is still extended forward but the hand has increased its pitch to stay near the surface. The right shoulder has rolled further but the hips have halted because the right leg kicks to counter-balance left arm extraction and provides sufficient force to halt the hip roll. Breathing begins. It should be noted that Michael Klim's shoulder rotation is maximal at this stage because his straight left-arm recovery will create a considerable lateral force component that will be more than its vertical force component. The swimmer is still streamlined well.
- Frame #4: The right arm begins its pull first be flexing slightly at the wrist and bending at the elbow. The swimmer "leans" on the arm, which causes the right shoulder to begin to rotate back toward horizontal. Inhalation is almost completed in the breathing action. The left leg kicks to counter-balance the vertical force component of the early press/pull. The swimmer is still streamlined well.
- Frame #5: The right pull still exhibits a large vertical force component that is counter-balanced by the completion of the left-leg kick. The right arm has bent more at the elbow, increasing its power, and is accelerating due to adduction of the upper arm. It is sweeping out more than in other champions to counter-balance the lateral force component of the wide-sweeping straight left-arm recovery, which is at about its maximum distance from the swimmer's centerline. The face begins to return into the water. Good streamlining continues to be exhibited.
- Frame #6: The upper right arm medially rotates to position the forearm/hand propelling-surface to almost direct horizontal force application. The arm is still wide although the recovering arm is past its point of maximum distance from the swimmer's centerline. However, the right arm is beginning to sweep inward as the recovering arm begins to sweep in toward the centerline. The right leg begins to kick preparatory to counter-balancing the entry of the left arm. The face is almost to the point of looking directly downward.
- Frame #7: Adduction of the upper arm is almost completed in the pull. The hand/forearm has moved from being wide to rapidly approach the swimmer's centerline because there is no longer a need to counter-balance lateral forces from the recovering arm. The right shoulder continues to rise. The left arm has entered fingertips first. The head now faces directly down. The right leg continues to kick to counter-balance the vertical forces of the entry. The hips rotate to a flat position as a reaction to the kick.
- Frame #8: Right arm propulsion continues with the hand/forearm now well under the body. Adduction of the upper arm is complete. From here on propulsion results from arm extension. The right shoulder is rotated upward to facilitate hip roll and the continuation of propulsive force under the body. At the same time that the right shoulder rises the left shoulder rotates downward. The left shoulder is elevated. The left arm bends slightly as the swimmer "leans" on it causing almost a complete vertical force. The right leg kick is completed. Streamlining is still admirable.
- Frame #9: The right shoulder and hip continue rotating causing the left shoulder and hip to sink. Right elbow extension pushes the hand almost directly backward and under the swimmer. The left hand is rotated outward although it remains with virtually no pitch. The left leg begins to kick preparatory to counter-balancing the exit of the right arm. The head is tilted past vertical to look slightly to the right. The right leg begins to rise preparatory to kicking.
- Frame #10: The right upper arm has exited and remains bent at the elbow to preserve momentum in the extension movement as part of the round-out action. The left leg kicks to counter-balance the vertical component of this movement but also halts any further rotation of the hip. The left arm presses down and out. The right leg has risen to a height where the foot is out of the water. The head is turned even further to the right.
- Frame #11: The left arm presses out and down. The right leg kicks out and down to counter-balance the arm's movement. The arm position is long with a slight elbow bend, a long lever but one that is not particularly powerful. The right arm has exited and is sweeping long and wide in recovery. The left leg rises preparatory to kicking. The head begins to be returned back to centerline.
- Frame #12: The left arm is at the widest part of the pull. The recovering right arm is at the widest part of its almost straight arm sweep. The right leg kicks to counter-balance the vertical and some of the lateral components of the left arm pull. That kick maintains the roll of the hips to the right. Streamlining is still effective. The head almost faces directly down.
- Frame #13: The sweeping recovery arm that is now approaching the swimmer's centerline causes the right shoulder to begin to lower. Adduction has been initiated in the left arm movement and the elbow begins to bend. The hand/forearm propulsive surface is in the act of being repositioned to provide increasing horizontal propulsion. The head continues to be rotated but now to the left. The right leg rises and the left leg initiates a kick from a position with the foot out of the water.
- Frame #14: The left upper arm is adducted rapidly but still weeping outside of the body-boundary. The elbow has flexed more. The right arm stretches long forward over the water and the left leg kicks to counter-balance that movement. The head continues to turn to the right.
- Frames #15-#18: The sequence of movements depicted in frames #1 through #4 is repeated.
Michael Klim is a very powerful young man. His remarkable upper body strength perhaps make it possible for him to swim with a straight arm recovery and to accommodate the large lateral forces it generates. But one is set to wondering about the energy costs, loss of propulsive efficiency and acceleration, particularly in the initial stages of the arm strokes, and other compromises that occur. It would not be advisable for many swimmers to attempt copying this swimming style.
Perhaps one of the admirable features of Michael Klim's stroke is his consistently good streamlining. Within reason, his torso, hips, and thighs remain horizontal and in line. His hips up -- head down position facilitates minimal frontal resistance.
However, it is unlikely that Michael Klim's performances will improve unless there are appropriate technique changes.
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