HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
EVGENYI SADOVYI'S FULL STROKE AT 120 m OF HIS GOLD MEDAL 400 m SWIM AT THE BARCELONA OLYMPIC GAMES 1992
Each frame is 0.1 seconds apart. There is no breath in the cycle
illustrated. The quality of the original film was particularly
- Frame #1: The right hand has just exited the water. The left
arm is stretched fully forward as the body is on its side.
- Frame #2: The left leg is raised in preparation to kick to
balance the vertical forces created by the left arm pressing down.
Bending at the left elbow is initiated.
- Frame #3: Even though the arm presses down the elbow continues
to bend. The left foot is at its highest point.
- Frame #4: Adduction of the upper left arm begins. The knee
of the left leg bends to allow the thigh to gain momentum as the
kicking action is initiated. The hips start to rotate.
- Frame #5: The shank of the left leg kicks quickly to counter-balance
the sudden increase in arm pull force. This continues to rotate
the hips. The head is raised briefly.
- Frame #6: The left leg completes its kick which contributes
to hip rotation. A slight rising of the hips begins. The left
arm bends at the elbow to position the forearm and hand so that
forces can be applied backward. The right arm enters the water
elbow first. The head is lowered back into the water trapping
air creating a "pocket of bubbles" which increases resistance.
- Frame #7: Rapid bending at the left elbow continues. The positioning
of the forearm and hand to create large drag forces is demonstrated
clearly in this picture. An unusual slight bend at the hips which
raises the buttocks is exhibited. The right arm is stretched well
forward and continues to be slightly bent at the elbow. The "pocket
of bubbles" can be seen under the right armpit.
- Frame #8: The left forearm and hand are essentially vertical
creating the greatest drag force possible. The hips are rolling
to the right. The body is returning to a flatter position than
in frame #7.
- Frame #9: The left arm is extending and probably at the extreme
of its propulsive effectiveness. The right arm continues to be
carried forward with the distinctive slight bend at the elbow.
- Frame #10: The left hand exits. At this time there is no propulsive
force being created.
- Frame #11: A rapid and direct bending of the right elbow and
direct "grabbing" action of the hand is initiated. This
is accompanied by medial rotation of the upper arm. The right
shank is raised to kick so that a counter-balancing movement for
the arm forces can occur. The counter-balancing will keep the
hips and torso level.
- Frame #12: The right forearm and hand have achieved an "elbow-up"
position which demonstrates the surface that is developed to produce
primarily horizontal drag forces. Adduction of the upper right
arm is occurring. A right leg kick is initiated.
- Frame #13: The right forearm is in a classic "elbow-up"
position and is similar to that exhibited by Keiren Perkins and
Murray Rose each on one of their arms. The right leg kick is completed
while the left leg begins to rise to the surface in preparation
- Frame #14: The body rolls past a flat position. The right
forearm and hand continue to push back together as the adduction
of the upper arm is completed. The left arm approaches entry.
In this position the shoulders are flat. An argument could be
made that Sadovyi would benefit by having the left shoulder lower
in the water at this stage so that the external rotator muscles
of the back could be used to complete a longer adduction of the
upper right arm.
- Frame #15: The left arm enters elbow first. The right forearm
and hand persist in a vertical plane although the right arm has
commenced extraction. The path of the extraction is rounded to
conserve momentum. A small left leg kick occurs to counter-balance
the left arm entry.
- Frame #16: The right arm is almost extracted with only the
hand being in the water. The left arm begins its downward press
as it commences to re-position where it can generate propulsive
- Frame #17: The stroke cycle is complete and a position similar
to that in frame #1 is achieved.
- In Sadovyi's arm movements there is a distinct absence of
any "S-shaped" arm pull pattern.
- There is little commonality between the left and right arm
pull patterns. It would be misleading to claim that Sadovyi demonstrates
a particular stroking pattern as each arm pull is distinct. The
asymmetry of the arm movements is characteristic of that exhibited
by most champion crawl stroke swimmers.
- The arm entry appears to be an unimportant aspect of the stroke.
Both arms enter elbow first almost at a complete stretch.
- Sadovyi's stroke appears to be relatively "rough."
His hips bob up and down (frames #6 and #7) and the head is raised
up and down (frame #5), features which should increase resistance.
- There are brief time periods in Sadovyi's stroke where no
propulsive forces seem to be generated.
Cappaert, J. M., & Rushall, B. S. (1994). Biomechanical
analyses of champion swimmers. Spring Valley, CA: Sports Science
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