HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
JENNY THOMPSON'S TURN AT 50 m OF HER GOLD MEDAL 100 m RACE AT THE 1999 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS IN SYDNEY
Each frame is .1 seconds apart. Jenny Thompson's time for this race was 54.89 seconds.
Frame #1: The swimmer approaches the wall stroking normally. When the appropriate distance is judged, the recovering arm is hurried forward to develop a double-arm pull, which accelerates the swimmer into the wall. Kicking is vigorous.
Frame #2: The swimmer thrusts the left arm into the water as the right arm continues its pull. The timing of this double-arm pull varies depending upon the distance to the wall judged by the swimmer. It is a skill developed from the practice of many maximum-speed turns, and is not learned from submaximal "training" turns. Kicking continues to be vigorous.
Frame #3: The left arm is the "turning arm." Its role is to increase or maintain the swimmer's velocity. In this case, the arm begins to be forced backward very strongly developing a surge of power. It begins to catch-up to the right arm. Kicking continues.
Frame #4: The left arm covers considerable distance as it is "hauled" backward. The right arm has completed its pull and is left trailing alongside the thigh. Kicking stops.
Frame #5: The turn is initiated by piking at the hips which constitutes a forward somersault that is naturally off-center because of the left arm pull. The movement involves flexing at the hips as rapidly as possible, driving downward with the shoulders, and leading the head to look back down the pool as quickly as possible. Contrary to what other swimming "experts" have written, that is the correct sequencing of movements to achieve the position displayed by this swimmer. However, as far as the swimmer is concerned, it is usual to experience the action as if they occurred simultaneously. When this action is instructed, the hips-shoulders-head sequence should be the order in which the movement elements are taught. If this movement is done correctly, the swimmer's hips and bottom should rise notably out of the water for a brief moment. If that does not occur, the piking action has been too slow.
Frame #6: Vigorous hip flexion continues with the legs trailing. The arms are thrust upward to keep aligned with the body and often come out of the water. The depth of the swimmer's head and shoulders is notable. In this position, with the upper body deep and the legs long, the moment of inertia of the swimmer is large and angular velocity is moderate.
Frame #7: As hip flexion continues, the legs rapidly flex at the knees. This is a "tucking" movement. Both actions shorten the moment of inertia about the swimmer's center of gravity and therefore, cause a sudden increase in angular velocity (rotation of the swimmer). Relative to the speed of the legs moving to the wall, the head and upper body move quite slowly.
Frame #8: The fast-moving legs contact the wall and the swimmer "feels" her position relative to the intended trajectory of the drive off the wall. The swimmer largely faces upward as the result of an almost complete forward somersault.
Frame #9: The swimmer's body position rises while the feet stay on the wall. The overall momentum toward the wall allows the swimmer's leg muscles to be pre-stretched, an experience that facilitates explosive movements.
Frame #10: To facilitate rapid extension at the ankles, knees, and hips -- an explosive drive off the wall -- the upper body continues to be reoriented to direct the swimmer appropriately. A large amount of hyperextension is displayed in the lower back to facilitate translation from the leg drive being in a correct direction. It should be noted that it is good form to "wait" on the wall until the body is correctly positioned to use a maximum drive off the wall. A leg drive that is too early, is normally less than maximal and produces an incorrect trajectory off the wall, that ultimately needs correcting and causes slowing.
Frame #11: Leg extension is vigorous. At the same time, the upper torso has begun to twist. It is important that the leg extension not be performed with a twist. It needs to be completed as directly and effectively as possible while twisting the upper body produces rotation.
Frame #12: The swimmer is stretched fully with the arms fully extended and one hand on top of the other. Rotation continues but is not "forced." Sudden rotation would slow a swimmer and so the completion of turning on to the stomach should take a relatively long time, something that is displayed well in this turn.
Frames #13 and #14: The swimmer rotates slowly in a streamlined position sensing for slowing.
Frame #15: A double-leg kick is initiated. The timing of this kick is better if it is done too early than too late in the turn. Many swimmers wait too long and actually lose any advantage that can be gained from the heightened velocity that results from the push off the wall in a turn. The swimmer shows good form for a double-leg kick. The kick entails mainly a leg movement, a small hip movement, and stationary arms and upper body. These are features that distinguish it from butterfly swimming. It must be emphasized that this DOES NOT RESEMBLE A BUTTERFLY KICK.
Frame #16: The rapidity of the leg kick, emanating mostly from below the knees with only a minor hip movement, is demonstrated here. The streamlined upper body and arms are maintained.
Frames #17 to #22: Quick double-leg kicks continue as the swimmer approaches the surface. The swimmer continues slowly turning onto her front while emphasizing streamline.
Frames #23 to #25: The first left arm pull is executed.
Frames #26 to #29: The right arm pull is executed.
Frame #30: The swimmer inhales. Three double-leg kicks and two full arm pulls are completed before the first breath is taken.
Jenny Thompson's turn is technically correct and efficient. This sequence should be used to demonstrate good crawl stroke turning technique.
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