Kennedy, P., Brown, P., Chengalur, S. N., & Nelson, R. C. (1990). Analysis of male and female Olympic swimmers in the 100-meter events. International Journal of Sport Biomechanics, 6, 187-197.

Stroke rate, length, final time, age, and height were assessed across the four 100 m events' heats at the Olympic Games.

It was found that:

  1. the higher the stroke rate, the shorter the stroke length;
  2. successful swimmers had longer stroke lengths;
  3. stroke rate was not related to body size but stroke length was;
  4. taller swimmers had longer stroke lengths;
  5. age was only important in the women's events being negatively correlated with final time in three of the four events (breaststroke not being related); and
  6. males across the four events were 10.6% faster, 11.5% older, 7.3% taller, and had 9.7% longer stroke lengths but had only 1% greater stroke rate.

Implication. Stroke length and rate were used in various combinations by many swimmers to achieve good performance times. It would seem that stroke length should be a priority for instructional emphasis.

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