HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
COACHING ERROR 1.2: GARY HALL Jr. AND MICHAEL KLIM AT THE FINISH OF THE 100m FREESTYLE RACE AT THE 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES IN SYDNEY
The time between each frame is equal.
The animated .GIF file sizes on this page are large and will take some time to download. The coaching error referred to in this analysis pertains to Michael Klim, not Gary Hall Jr.
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.
This analysis focuses on Michael Klim's use of a dolphin kick with crawl stroke arms at the finish of his races. At the Sydney Olympic Games, he used this combination to finish his heat. From the commercial broadcast of the 100-m semi-final, it was not possible to tell if the combination was used. In that semi-final, Klim recorded a race time of 48.80 with the final five meters (head to wall) being completed in 2.33 seconds. In the final (pictured here), he recorded 48.74 with the final five meters covered in 2.49 seconds, .17 seconds slower than the semi-final.
In this analysis sequence, Gary Hall Jr. is the closest swimmer at the top of the frame. Hall does not display good finishing form gliding from almost a meter out. His final 5-m time was 2.52, a slow time that reflects the glide. Michael Klim is the third swimmer from the top. In the actual race, Hall beat Klim for the bronze medal by one-tenth of a second.
The combination of dolphin kicking with crawl stroke arms is unsound in theory and practice, and represents a gross error in coaching. Efficient swimming strokes are dependent upon counterbalanced actions either side of the center of buoyancy. Dolphin kicking and crawl stroke arms do not represent an efficient counterbalanced movement pattern as can be seen in this analysis.
Frame #1 through #4: Michael Klim executes the downward portion of the dolphin kick. At the same time, the left arm enters the water and presses directly down in an attempt to counterbalance the powerful kick. The hips react by rising slightly. During this kicking phase, the left arm is not propulsive.
Frame #5 through #8: The legs rise to the surface and then bend at the knees preparatory to another downward kick. In frame #7 and #8, as the knees bend the hips drop lower disrupting streamline. The swimmer's athletic posture is anything but streamline in frame #8, the frontal cross-sectional area of the swimmer increases form resistance markedly. The arm does attempt to generate propulsive force, but the arm is so deep that the force is weak. In frame #8, the right arm enters and the next downward kick begins.
Frame #9 through #10: The downward dolphin kick occurs, causing the hips to elevate very quickly. In frame #10, the feet are still low while a slight pike position is exhibited at the hips. In frame #10, the feet separate with the left foot lower than the right. This illustrates the need in crawl stroke to kick the foot on the opposite side of the body to the entering arm. The artificial dolphin kick cannot totally mask the natural need to counterbalance forces. The right arm presses directly down with no semblance of backward propulsion. Drag forces created by the arm are primarily vertical with a small portion being away from the wall. Not only does the kick not yield any substantial propulsion, but the arm entry and "dive" act to slow the swimmer further by increasing drag resistance.
Frame #11 through #17: The feet rise and another kick occurs, but with less force and amplitude than the previous two kicks. The end of the downward phase of the kick is not as vigorous as the previous kick. The hips do not rise as much, foot separation is less, and overall streamline is better. The pulling right arm in frame #11 through #13 is uncharacteristically deep. Normally, Michael Klim pulls with a high-elbow and relatively shallow right arm. In this hybrid stroke, the direct force application that characterizes Klim's right arm movement pattern is replaced by an inefficient deep pull that contains reduced direct force production. The left arm enters (frame #13) and pulls very deep again (frame #17).
Frame #18 through #23: As the wall approaches, Michael Klim hastens the dolphin kick. In frame #19, the kick is set (but note the inclined angle of the head-to-knees that is anything but streamlined), and the left arm finishes its deep pull and prepares to move vertically and backward to exit. The kick that occurs (frame #20 through #23) is very vigorous, overpowers the entering right arm, and forces the hips high to produce a pike-hip position (frames #22 and #23). As happened with Alex Popov, this movement almost stops the swimmer and from here in to the wall, progress is very slow.
Frame #24 through #27: Michael Klim stretches for the wall. His slow progress encourages him to roll on his side and do everything possible to extend to touch the wall.
Problems revealed in this analysis are similar to those revealed in the analysis of Alexander Popov. Not only is the combination of a dolphin kick with crawl stroke arms incorrect from a biomechanical viewpoint, it is detrimental to forward progress. When the kick is "hard," it causes the hips to rise excessively, streamline to be disrupted, and forward momentum to be slowed noticeably.
Michael Klim lost an Olympic medal in this race because of this "finishing" technique.
Return to Table of Contents for this section.