HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
NATALIE COUGHLIN AT 65 m OF HER GOLD MEDAL 100 m BACKSTROKE RACE AT THE 2004 ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES
The time between each frame is not known. Natalie Coughlin's time for this race was 1:00.37. This series is displayed along with one at 20 m so that a better understanding of what happens with both arms during Ms. Coughlin's pull is obtained.
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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At the end of the following narrative, each frame is illustrated in detail in a sequential collage.
- The features described in Natalie Coughlin's stroke at 20 m are still evident at this stage of her race. The general descriptions from the 20-m analysis are repeated below.
- Natalie Coughlin's kick is not deep. That is a good feature particularly since recent research has shown that big kicks do increase propulsion but with a disproportionately greater increase in drag force. Another unusual feature is that Ms. Coughlin uses a four-beat kick rather than the "traditional" six-beat action.
- The swimmer rolls her total body to each side for each pull. That results in the pulling action being closer to the line of intended motion.
- Each arm action involves the total arm. The pull starts well behind the swimmer. Propulsion is directly backward with the three arm segments contributing to a coordinated propelling surface. The body roll cancels out the traditionally described "S-shaped" pull, resulting in a directly backward application of force. The mechanics of Ms. Coughlin's arm action are similar to a good crawl stroke action -- the arm is positioned for propulsion, and abduction followed by adduction provides the power. However, the arm extension is not similar to that of crawl stroke. Both arms finish with a very deep extension followed by a vigorous inward sculling action upward to extract the arm from the water.
- The swimmer's body angle has improved to about 15 degrees relative to the horizontal plane.
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