HOW CHAMPIONS DO IT
Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall,
XUEJUAN LUO AT 15 m OF HER GOLD MEDAL 50 m BREASTSTROKE RACE AT THE 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN FUKUOKA
This sequence was recorded at slightly slower than real time. The time for this winning swim was 30.84 seconds.
This stroke analysis includes a moving sequence in slower than real time, the same 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 swimmer exhibits superb streamline. During the pull and kick, the torso and head are flat.
The kick features legs trailing in a streamlined position. The legs are drawn up as the breath is taken minimizing the time that the swimmer is out of streamline (all the non-streamlined events occur at roughly the same time). The feet are fully turned out at the commencement of the kick (Frame #16). The direction of the kick is mostly horizontal and backward (no outward or downward "frog" kick).
When the kick is initiated, the torso, head, and arms are flat, producing a minimal cross-sectional area for drag production. This a very admirable characteristic of this swimmer's form.
The pull (Frames #4 through #8) is a double-arm thrust backward and downward, similar to a good butterfly pull in its early stages. This is an exhibition of very good direct force production and is very different to an "inward-outward" sculling action. Part of the vertical force component is used to generate the initial force to lift the shoulders and head up to breathe.
The breathing action is initiated by the arm pull and completed by extreme hyperextension of the upper back. The coordination of these two movements allows other good action components to occur. If the head/shoulder lift was totally generated by the arm pull, it would not be possible to minimize the vertical movements of the head and shoulders -- the swimmer would have an exaggerated lifting action to breathe.
The upward movement of the arms early in recovery counterbalances some of the downward movement of the head and torso, resulting in a nice flat alignment for the kick. This action is very different to that of swimmers coached to dive downward after an early raising of the hands in the recovery.
There are many good features of breaststroke technique in Xuejuan Luo's stroke that are worthy of being models for other swimmers to emulate.
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