LEISEL JONES AT 35 m OF HER WINNING 100 m BREASTSTROKE SEMI-FINAL RACE AT THE 2004 ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES
Each frame is .1 seconds part. Leisel Jones' time for this event was 1:06.78, a new Olympic record that was subsequently broken by Xuejuan Luo in the final.
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.
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Other analyses of Leisel Jones' stroke are provided on this web site. The principal purpose of this evaluation is to discern if there is something that the swimmer does when she swims very fast in semi-finals that is different to that which she does in finals when she often records a slower time.
Four obvious factors are strengths in this stroke. The first is the excellent streamline that pervades most of her stroke. There is a minimum of "lifting" actions. That keeps her body and legs mostly flat or at minimal angles to the oncoming fluid. This is in stark contrast to Amanda Beard but a feature that is also exhibited by Xuejuan Luo and Kosuke Kitajima.
The second outstanding factor is displayed in Frames #10 through #16. This involves the kick. It is made when the arms and body are streamlined. The commencement of leg propulsion is demonstrated in Frame #11. A full powerful kick drives a minimally resistant body and arms forward. This action appears to be a common thread among the best breaststrokers of this time in the stroke's development.
The third feature is the overall streamline. After the kick the swimmer is disciplined enough to allow the resulting propulsion of the kick to accelerate the swimmer forward without generating any extra resistance [as often happens when the arms are opened for the next arm stroke]. It appears modern 100- and 200-m racing requires completion of the kick in a full streamlined position before the next arm stroke begins. That "delay" could account for the fastest breaststrokers having excellent distance-per-stroke measurements.
The fourth feature involves the arm stroke. Outward and inward movements are not sculling actions. Rather, they slice the water quicker than when sculling, which results in less time in a very inefficient stroke phase. Arm propulsion (Frames #4 through #6) is backward and inward with some vertical force component that is used to elevate the head and shoulders for a low breathing action. Because of exceptional flexibility and hyperextension in the back, that movement can be achieved without causing any loss of streamline from the lower torso through to the feet.
Leisel Jones' stroke demonstrates improvements in streamline (i.e., a reduction in frontal resistance) and appropriate direct force generation that results in efficient progression through the water. In some finals, when she swims slower, starting the hand separation before the kick and legs streamline is completed compromises her streamline. Such a movement might be tolerable in 50-m races but not in the Olympic distances.
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