ISCA Coach Education Program

We are thrilled that after about a year of production and development, the ISCA Education Program has officially launched!

The program is available online internationally and features evidence-based curriculum developed by sport scientists specifically for swim coaches. Our modern education portal is easy to navigate and secure, with transcript tracking and interactive course content.

ISCA Certification is available for coaches that are ISCA members and also complete the six core science-based courses (Biomechanics 101 & 102, Physiology 101 & 102, and Sport Psychology 101 & 102). The science behind swimming is something that all coaches need to understand to be effective and successful–and we look forward to providing this crucial piece of education to coaches around the world.

Get started today on the ISCA Education Portal:

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SSWIMT: Swimming Research


Research on swimming is broad and essential for the evolution of the sport. The level of swimming related scientific research is very advanced, as is the level of coaching. However, as both fields are very demanding, their connection, in terms of knowledge and experience diffusion, is difficult.

In-depth reading of scientific papers is needed for a thorough interpretation of their results. However, this is usually time consuming and difficult for non-accustomed readers. The short display (shorter than their abstract) of interesting articles in a simple manner, without meddling, for someone to figure out if an article is helpful (and then go on with full-text reading), is our main intention. Additionally, useful notes from the coaching practice that are based on testing will be posted. The purpose is to assist swimming coaches and relevant sport scientists to keep up with the swimming research progress.

So sswimt comes to accelerate the dissemination of information and updates on swimming testing and research with a focus on physiology, biochemistry, metabolism, nutrition and training!  Our goal is to set off the abundant information provided by eminent sports scientists and swimming coaches, thanks to whom swimming is evolving constantly. Hope you will enjoy it! More interesting things are on the way…

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5 Hot Swimming Topics for Elite Swimmers

As a take home message:

  1. Some of the hot topics for elite swimmers are shared in this piece
  2. I will elaborate on what Science tell us on those topics and what we have yet to learn
  3. For further reading, I will share a few papers and interviews with leading researchers

We are on the road to two major international competitions: Kazan 2015 and Rio 2016. Everybody is looking forward for both competitions. Those that work on the backstage, such as analysts and researchers, hopefully are experienced, as hot topics can diverge training plans, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst.

Here you will find five selected hot topics, based on my personal opinion, that several coaches and elite swimmers have been seeking advice. You are most welcome to add more topics on the bottom of this piece. Please, be my guest.

The piece is structured in a not-too-wordy FAQ style:

  1. What do we know so far? I.e., what is the solid scientific knowledge on the topic and the take home message;
  2. What we don’t know yet? I.e., what are the gaps that we still find in the Science, the grey zone, or the limitations reported by the researchers;
  3. Where do I find more details on this? You can have deeper insight on these topics referring to selected research papers or interviews with leading researchers.

And without further ado, the selected topics are……

5 Hot Swimming Topics for Elite Swimmers

  1. High-intensity (interval) training & Ultra-short race-pace training

What do we know so far?

We do know that for low-tier swimmers, any training program is effective. Can be HI(I)T or any other program, including MICE (acronym

High Intensity Swimming Training

for “moderate-intensity continuous exercise”).

HI(I)T is on one end of the spectrum (High-intensity; low-volume) and MICE on the opposite end (Low-intensity; high-volume). USRPT is considered by some people as an extension of HI(I)T although including some extra features. We also find “mixed” programs with different Hi-Lo combinations of volume and intensity.

Mid-tier swimmers show the same performance enhancement regardless of the program being HI(I)T or MICE. Hence, HI(I)T can be considered as more efficient because they get the same outcome with lower physical and psychological stress.

What we don’t know yet?

We find anecdotal reports and claims that a few elite swimmers showed improvements or delivered good performances after a HI(I)T/USRPT program.

We don’t have solid scientific evidence that HI(I)T/USRPT is more or less effective in high-performance swimmers though. I.e., there is not sufficient evidence to endorse or discontinue HI(I)T/USRPT in elite swimmers.

Nevertheless, I am wondering if world-class coaches, at some point of the periodization program, include in their training sessions some of the HI(I)T concepts.

Where do I find more details on this?

Interviews to leading researchers on the topic can be found here and here.

One research paper can be retrieved here.

  1. Altitude

What do we know so far?

An altitude training camp should take roughly 4 weeks. The best times are posted 2-4 weeks after returning to sea level.

On the first week at sea level, performance might even impair. So re-acclimatization is a good moment for tapering before major competitions.

The duration of this recovery seems to be dependent on the event to be raced and individual characteristics of the swimmer.

Altitude training is related to the hypoxia effect, but also the fact of swimmers and coaches are completely focused on the training round the clock, with no need to juggle between different commitments.

Most of the times these camps are held at venues where swimmers can easily approach support staff (e.g., biomechanists, physiologists, Mireia Belmonte VO2 swimming test Altitude Trainingnutritionists, physical therapists, etc.) to be monitored, seeking their advice and thoughts (seems to improve performance at least by 3%).

What we don’t know yet?

There is an individual response to altitude, hence swimmers that are low-responders should be flagged beforehand.

The effect of intermediate- v high-altitude training is still a little bit controversial. I.e., what is the minimum altitude needed?

A lot of research will be done on the different combinations of Hi and Lo regimens.

The nocebo and placebo effects of being part on this kind of training camps is still to be studied.

Where do I find more details on this?

The interview to a leading researcher on the topic can be found here.

One research paper can be retrieved here.

  1. Warm-up

What do we know so far?

Active warm-up has a positive effect on the swimmer’s performance. Bigger effects were found notably for middle- and long-distance (i.e. 200m onwards) than for sprint events.

Pre-race dry-land stretching drills are a common practice as a complement to the in-water warm-up; despite no effects preventing injuries or enhancing the performance. Clarification: I’m talking about stretching before the race and not about a well-designed program over time to enhance flexibility to an optimal range of motion.

The in-water warm-up should last for 15–25 min, including a moderate-intensity set, another of specific drills focusing also on the stroke efficiency, a set with reps at the race pace, starts and turns.

For the time-lag between the in-water warm-up and the race, passive warm-up should be considered.

What we don’t know yet?

The optimal design (e.g., duration, volume, intensity, type of drills and recovery period) according to the event to be raced is not yet fully understood.

Little is known on the effect of different passive warm-up strategies, although none should rise the body temperature above 39 degrees Celsius, otherwise performance might impair.

Where do I find more details on this?

The interview to a leading researcher on the topic: still to come. Stay tuned.

One research paper can be retrieved here.

  1. Strength & conditioning

What do we know so far?

A S&C program concurrent to the in-water training helps to prevent injuries and enhance the performance.

A S&C coach should also monitor anthropometric features and sometimes a preliminary assessment of the body posture and limbs’ alignments. However, physiotherapists can run more comprehensive clinical tests.

The program must be coupled with a proper diet according to the goals to be achieved (i.e. swimmer should refer to a nutritionist).12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) - Day Three

S&C can help when the swimmer pushes solid bodies (i.e. block-start; wall-turns) being explosive power a major determinant.

Performance can also be improved while he pulls a fluid body (i.e. water-swim strokes).

Dryland S&C does not have a direct effect on the performance. The earlier one will have an influence on specific in-water parameters and the later on the performance.

As rule of thumb, routines should change every 3-4 weeks (i.e., mesocycle or block) and training loads adjusted to remain effective and avoid injuries.

What we don’t know yet?

The challenge though is the transfer of dry-land strength & power to water and make the best use of it swimming, turning and starting.

More reliable in-water measuring techniques could be developed in the new future. E.g., handgrip testing is not specific enough and tethered swim has some hydrodynamic limitations. Obviously, these tests also have some pros, but I won’t elaborate on that today.

One concern that we cannot rule out is how to build-up power (that is based on maximal strength) avoiding the significant increase of body surface area and weight that affects drag force, buoyancy and underwater torque.

Should the S&C session be before or after the in-water training?

Where do I find more details on this?

The interview to a leading researcher on the topic can be found here.

One research paper can be retrieved here and here.

  1. Starts & turns

What do we know so far?Doha 2014 Dive

Starts plus turns can account up to 50% in a sprint.

Turns can represent up to 30% of the race time in middle- and long-distance events.

Streamline gliding and dolphin kicks are important phases in both race moments.

Over the start, underwater phase (i.e. gliding and dolphin kick) depends upon above-water phases (i.e., take-off horizontal velocity and optimal flight trajectory).

What we don’t know yet?

The body of knowledge on the start seems to be more solid and consistent than for the turns.

The big challenge for the swimmer is to understand when to stop gliding and begin the dolphin kicks, stop the kicking and start or resume the swim stroke.

Where do I find more details on this?

The interview to a leading researcher on the topic can be found here and here.

One research paper can be retrieved here.

By Tiago M. Barbosa PhD degree recipient in Sport Sciences and faculty at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The post 5 Hot Swimming Topics for Elite Swimmers appeared first on Swimming Science.

How to Analyze Breaststroke Swimming

As a take home message:
1. In this piece we did the analysis of three age-group breaststrokers.
2. Modeled data sometimes does not fit completely the individual data of a specific swimmer.
3. After benchmarking the swimmers against data retrieved from the literature we have learned that one of the swimmers is able to reach a high speed (strong point), but with a high speed fluctuation (main concern).
4. Several analyses were carried out to run a full diagnosis, prescribe what to change and predict the outcome of such improvements. He would be able to increase the speed by 0.1 m/s (faster) and decrease the speed fluctuation by 10% (more efficient).

In my latest piece eventually I shared a picture that depicts modeled and real data. At that time, it was explained that most textbooks and even research papers share modeled data because: (i) it will be easier to understand a concept having “smoothed” data and; (ii) the modeled curve aims to represent the main trend across all subjects assessed.

Unfortunately, there is a huge drawback of this. Most of the times the theoretical model does not fit in the data of one particular subject. In academia, this falls under the topic “universal versus individual data analysis” (Barbosa et al., 2010). I.e., data from a pooled sample of swimmers does not represent what is the best for my swimmer. Indeed, the inter-individual variability is a concern for several researchers (Seifert et al., 2011).

A very good example is the assessment of the speed fluctuation. The academic jargon for speed fluctuation is “intra-cyclic variation of the velocity”. Meaning, it is how speed changes over one fig1single stroke cycle. As you are aware the swim speed is the result of the balance between thrust (propulsion) and resistance (drag). So, over one single stroke cycle the speed goes up whenever the thrust is higher than the resistance. The speed goes down if the thrust is lower than the resistance.

Let’s apply these two concepts (universal v. individual analysis; assessment of the speed fluctuation) to breaststroke. Figure 1 (top panel) depicts what would be the typical speed fluctuation at breaststroke reported in a textbook. At the begging of the stroke cycle the speed goes up due to the kicking and eventually reaches a first peak (thrust by the kick is higher than the water resistance). After the kick the swimmer will glide in the streamlined position. Because there is no thrust, only passive drag is acting upon the body, the speed decreases and we can find that “valley”. After the glide it is performed the arms’ stroke and the speed increases once again (second peak). With the legs’ recovery the resistance increases significantly and speed goes south sharply.

Now, that we did the re-cap of the stroke cycle at breaststroke, I must share with you that this curve is the modeled data of three age-group breaststrokers. Figure 1 (bottom panel) depicts the variations in the modelled curve considering the individual differences among the three swimmers. For instance, at the beginning of the stroke cycle (the first upward slope, i.e., kicking) the vertical lines are rather small. That means that the three swimmers are quite similar, little difference can be found among them. But, the vertical lines on the second peak are big. So, it seems that the three are doing thing in a different way at this phase of the stroke cycle.

So far, we did the analysis of the pooled and modeled data of three swimmers (i.e. universal analysis). Moving on to the individual analysis. Figure 2 depicts the individual curves of each subject. One seems to be a top-tier age-group breaststroker (blue line), the other two a mid- and a low-tier swimmers (red and green lines, respectively). Now, you understand why I told you at the beginning that unfortunately the modeled curves most of the times do not fit the individual curves. Figure 1 was computed based on the data of these three swimmers represented in Figure 2. We can see that at the beginning the curves of the three match almost perfectly, but then start to drift away from each other. This is why the variation is low at the beginning of the cycle and high at the end as shared earlier (vertical lines, i.e. standard deviation, in figure 1 – bottom panel).



Now, we are ready to do the quantitative analysis. For the kinematic analysis, I selected the average swimming velocity (v), stroke frequency (SF), stroke length (SL), maximal velocity (v-max) and minimal velocity (v-min) within the stroke cycle. Two other variables were selected as efficiency estimators, and this includes the stroke index (Costill et al., 1985) and the speed fluctuation (e.g., Barbosa et al., 2005).

Based on the average speed over the cycle it is easy to follow that we are assessing swimmers of different competitive levels. The green swimmer has a lower speed, SF, SL, dv and v-max. What makes the difference between the blue and red swimmers? The SF is slightly higher, but the SL shorter for the later breaststroker. The red swimmer has a lower speed fluctuation than the blue counterpart. So, this deserves some further investigation.


First things first, we should benchmark the swimmers against other subjects in our database or data retrieved from the literature. Today I will benchmark the swimmer against the data reported in a research paper (Barbosa et al., 2013). The black dots are the data reported in the paper, the coloured dots are our swimmers. We are benchmarking the relationship between speed fluctuation and swim velocity. Now, we are sure that the green swimmer is an average breaststroker, the red a mid-tier-almost-top-tier and the blue a top-performer. The main concern is that the blue swimmer despite reaching a high speed also shows a big speed fluctuation in comparison with two other counterparts that race at similar paces (1.2-1.3 m/s, black dots). These two reach the same speed with speed fluctuations lower than 40% though. Being the bigger picture, now we should do the analysis of the individual curve of the blue swimmer.


The top-left panel (figure 4) depicts the kick. The blue swimmer is the one reaching the highest speed (2.01m/s). The rate of speed development is the same for the three, but the kicking action is 0.03s longer for the blue swimmer (the kick took 0.28s). So, one might say that the kick power (or mechanical impulse) is quite nice for the three, the main difference might be in the legs’ insweep. This is the end of the kick, when the swimmer squeezes up the water between the calf and feet, the plantar surface almost touches each other and toes point backwards-inwards.fig4

The top-right panel (figure 4) is related to the glide. This seems to be a major drawback for the blue swimmer. The speed drops 0.99m/s in 0.32s. Probably the glide is a little bit too long and the body position not the best. For instance, the red swimmer does not have such a significant decrease in speed. One should have arms fully extended and horizontal, head in a neutral position between the upper-arms and looking downward-forward, hips high close to the surface, legs fully extended and horizontal with no sinking of the feet.

The bottom-left panel (figure 4) reports the arms’ action. That took 0.26s and he reached a maximal speed of 2.09m/s. The blue swimmer is very balanced because the ratio between the maximal speed reached by kick and arms is 2.01 v. 2.09m/s. Several breaststrokers are more kick-driven and neglect the arms’ stroke. Both the red and green swimmers are not able to reach the same speed over the arms’ stroke they did at the kicking. I.e., the second peak (arms) is smaller than the first (kick). If they improve the arms’ action, the average speed would increase even though at the cost of the efficiency (i.e. probably speed fluctuation would increase). With that, they would reach the performance level of the blue swimmer. After reaching such level, would be time to think about the speed fluctuation (which is what we are doing right now to the blue swimmer).

The bottom-right panel (figure 4) help us to have a deeper understanding of the legs’ recovery, when the knees and hips bend. This should be another concern for the blue swimmer. In 0.34s he loses 1.83m/s reaching the lowest speed (0.25m/s). I.e., for tenths of a second he almost stopped in the water. Avoid dropping the thighs. Less bend by the hip and keep the knees high. The end of the arms’ insweep and legs’ recovery happens at the same time. Head moves as one with the torso (spine completely aligned). Do not bend or extend the neck. This phase is all about tempo and sync between upper and lower limbs.

An analyst must be able to answer a few questions:

  1. What is happening?
  2. What can we do to improve?
  3. How much will be the improvement?

Well, the diagnosis is done. So we can try to help the blue swimmer to be one of the finest breaststrokers.

Time to re-cap what we’ve learned so far: his propulsion is very good. Let’s keep this good work. The resistance after the glide and legs’ recovery are two concerns and deserve special attention.

Good coaches will suggest a set of drills in order to improve the gliding position, the tempo (notably the duration of the glide), the thigh and shank positions over the legs’ recovery and timing between arms and legs. Follow the link for a comprehensive list of drills (WARNING: the original paper is in Portuguese. Sorry for the inconvenience. If you speak a Latin language it is easy to understand. Alternatively I have a nerdy solution for you: 1. Install the “google translate” in your smartphone or tablet; 2. Set the app to translate from Portuguese to English; 3. Below the field to type the word to be translated you will find the camera icon. Press that icon/button. 4. Point the camera to the text and the app will automatically translate the text for you. 5. To clarify: you need a hardcopy of the piece or softcopy being displayed in a second device. E.g., display the piece on a laptop and use the phone for the automatic and real-time translation).

A good analyst will try to predict what happens with the changes advised. He will have to work the math, do some modelling, signal processing, chunk the numbers and provide a result. My prediction for the blue swimmer is as follows. If over the legs’ recovery the speed does not decrease up to 0.25m/s but 0.33m/s, the speed fluctuation improves to 36.03% and the speed to 1.36m/s (i.e. 0.1m/s faster). Figure 5 includes the real glide (blue line) and the “optimal” glide (magenta line). If the swimmer improves his glide, the speed fluctuation reduces to 35.29% and the speed to the same 1.36m/s.

So, if the swimmer and the coach embark in only one of these two solutions, the dv-v will be 35%-1.36m/s. End of the day, shifting the blue dot in the figure 3 to the coordinates (35; 1.36) one can learn that the swimmer not only becomes the fastest but also the most efficient.


1. Barbosa TM, Keskinen KL, Fernandes RJ, Colaço C, Lima AB, Vilas-Boas JP. (2005). Energy cost and intra-cyclic variations of the velocity of the centre of mass in butterfly stroke. Eur J Appl Physiol. 93: 519-523.
2. Barbosa TM, Morouço P, Jesus S, Feitosa W, Costa MJ, Marinho DA, Silva AJ, Garrido ND (2013). Interaction between speed fluctuation and swimming velocity in young competitive swimmers. Int J Sports Med. 34(2): 123-130
3. Costill D, Kovaleski J, Porter D, Fielding R, King D (1985). Energy expenditure during front crawl swimming: predicting success in middle-distance events. Int J Sports Med. 6: 266-270
4. Seifert L, Leblanc H, Herault R, Komar J, Button C, Chollet D. (2011). Inter-individual variability in the upper-lower limb breaststroke coordination (2011). Hum Mov Sci 3:550-65

By Tiago M. Barbosa PhD degree recipient in Sport Sciences and faculty at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The post How to Analyze Breaststroke Swimming appeared first on Swimming Science.

Healthy Swimmer’s More Dysfunctional Than Injured Baseball Players: Swim Shoulder Pain

This is an interview with Dr. Lucas Wymore. Dr. Wymore recently published: Shoulder Functional Performance Status of National Collegiate Athletic Association Swimmers: Baseline Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic Scores. This interview discusses this research article, but don’t forget to look at Dr. Wymore’s other study: No correlation between stroke specialty and rate of shoulder pain in NCAA men swimmers. For more on Swimmer’s Shoulder checkout SSP 004: Swimmer’s Shoulder Rehabilitation, Injury Prevention and Much More with Dr. Tracy Spigelman or consider purchasing the COR Swimmer’s Shoulder System.

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

My name is Lucas Wymore, and I am an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. I attended Notre Dame for college where I swam for the Shoulder-InjuryIrish. I went to medical school at Texas A&M University, completed my orthopedic residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a sports medicine fellowship with the San Diego Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy fellowship. I became interested in sports medicine while in high school. I loved sports, and because of swimming, I had a desire to remain involved in the sport and work with athletes as a career.

2. You recently published an article on subject active swimmer responses based on their shoulder. What do we know about the accuracy of subjective responses ?

We know with any survey study, there are some inherent limitations. Recall bias can change people’s responses due to memory of past events. Some athletes may wish to underreport their symptoms if they fear that they may lose playing time. In order to decrease this bias, our study was to be completed based on shoulder symptoms at the present time, in an effort to minimize recall bias. Privacy was assured so that athletes would be more comfortable answering as truthfully as possible.

3. What did you choose the KJOC and did you consider any other subjective questionnaires ?

The KJOC score was selected because it is validated for overhead athletes. It is specific for function and performance in the athlete, which will pick up differences that may be missed in other scores. Many studies have used this questionnaire for a variety of shoulder and elbow research in athletes. There are other shoulder scores in the orthopedic literature, but these focus on activities of daily living. For example, the Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) ask questions including difficulty with preparing meals or washing one’s hair because of shoulder pain. In many athletes, they may have a debilitating shoulder problem and are completely disabled for sport, but can still have a nearly perfect DASH score. The KJOC score evaluates function and performance specifically for athletes to find these differences.

4 . What exactly did your study look at and why is this a point of interest ?

Our study was designed to define a baseline KJOC score for active swimmers. We wanted to take a group of swimmers that were actively competing in the sport at a high level, and determine a numerical value for their shoulder function. This had been done previously with baseball pitchers. Our goal was to provide similar data to the swimming community that can be useful for comparison both with future research and clinical evaluation.

5. What were the results of your study ?

The study showed that swimmers had a surprisingly low baseline KJOC score. The mean score for all participating athletes was 79.0 out of a possible Shoulder Pain100. For swimmers competing without shoulder trouble, the mean score was 84.4, those with shoulder trouble was 53.9. We found swimmers competing for 11 years or longer had a significantly lower score than those swimming for 10 years or less, 72.0 vs 86.4, respectively. We have no other swimming data like this for comparison. However, other studies looking at baseball pitchers show a baseline score of 94.8 (Kraeutler et al, Journal of Shoulder Elbow Surgery, 2013.) That study concluded that scores for healthy pitchers should be greater than 90. Our study showed a baseline score less than 80.

6. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study ?

This data can be useful when evaluating swimmers with complaints of swim shoulder pain. The survey is very simple to use and can be completed in under 5 minutes. Physicians and athletic trainers can now compare their athlete’s score to our baseline scores to help guide treatment.

7. Do you think the results would be different if you had older, elite or untrained swimmers?

Yes, I think the results would have been different. We focused only on NCAA swimmers, which gives a consistent age and skill level. Older studies show that youth or age group swimmers have less incidence of swim shoulder pain than older swimmers. Most research shows that the more elite swimmers have a higher incidence of shoulder trouble. I think that generalizing our results to all swimmers- competitive or recreational, youth or masters, is difficult and should be done with caution.

8. There has recently been research on perceptions of swim shoulder pain in swimmers (mainly by Hibberd), what are your views on the perception of swim shoulder pain in the sport of swimming?

Dr. Hibberd has published some excellent research in swimming. Her recent article on perception of swim shoulder pain gives a scientific insight to the culture of the sport. I think that in swimming, shoulder pain is considered part of the sport in ways not seen in other overhead athletes. Pitchers are shut down if they develop shoulder pain. Swimmers tend to accept it as normal. I think our data shows this. Athletes who define themselves as competing without shoulder trouble have an average score of 84.4- still lower than what is considered the cutoff for a healthy pitcher.

9. I’m often asked, especially in maturing young swimmers, how can you tell the difference between pain and soreness, how do you respond to that question?

It can definitely be difficult to define. In general, I think of soreness as the body’s physiological response to intense athletic activity. It is generally milder discomfort, resolves on its own, and should not interfere with sport. Pain from injury tends to be more severe and consistent in location and nature. Pain that forces alteration in technique, or causes a noticeable decline in performance in both training and competition is more concerning.

10. There has been more of a shift towards high intensity swimming training with a lower volume, do you feel this training approach reduces shoulder stress ?

I think that the “swimmers shoulder” is a cumulative effect of the miles on the shoulders. Swimming is still an inexact science- both with training and medicine. I think that less miles reduces shoulder stress. The true test will be if it improves performance as well as decreases shoulder problems.

11. If a swimmer has pain in their shoulder, what course of action do you suggest?

I would first recommend a short period of rest (3 days rest to minimize deconditioning,) ice, and anti inflammatory medications. Then a gradual return into the pool, with a focus on warm up. Pain that was persistent and more debilitating warrants work up with a careful exam of the shoulder, X-rays, and possibly an MRI if there was concern for a soft tissue structural problem, such as a tear of the labrum or rotator cuff.

12. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

I would like to design a study that determines prevention strategies to decrease shoulder problems in swimmers. In our study, the question “How difficult is it to get loose or warm up before practice?” had the lowest score, a mean of 6.4 out of 10. I think that investigating warm up is an area that may help the athletes decrease shoulder problems.

The post Healthy Swimmer’s More Dysfunctional Than Injured Baseball Players: Swim Shoulder Pain appeared first on Swimming Science.

All you Need to Know About Partial Squats

This is a short written interview with Caleb Bazyler, Ph.D (c) on partial squats and sports performance. See Caleb’s research on partial squats and regular squats here. If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section, thanks! Strict use of partial squats are blasphemy in the strength and conditioning world [ask Bret Contreras], but we still don’t know much about their effects, especially when used in combination of full squats, as I’ve written about previously. Also, check out Caleb’s Sports Science Website. Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

Currently, I am a doctoral student in the exercise and sport science program at East Tennessee State University and work with various athletic teams as one of the athletic weightroom supervisors. I completed my undergraduate at Florida State University where I was an intern with the women’s basketball team and performed research with cross country athletes as part of my thesis. I was interested in continuing to do research with athletes, but wanted the practical experience working as a strength coach. I was able to accomplish this at East Tennessee State University where I was the strength and conditioning coach and sport scientist for the men’s tennis team while completing my master’s degree. I have been a certified strength and conditioning coach (NSCA-CSCS) for about 4 years and have worked with various collegiate athletic teams including tennis, golf, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track and field. I am primarily interested in the performance of strength-power athletes, specifically powerlifters and weightlifters.

2. You recently published an article on the effects of partial squats. What do we know about partial repetition training?

Relative to other topics in the field of strength and conditioning there is not a lot of research on partial range of motion training. In one of the earliest studies examining changes in strength with partial versus full range of motion training, Graves and colleagues (1989) showed that changes in isometric maximal strength were specific to the range of motion trained. More recent investigations have reported similar findings for 1RM strength and have also found that changes in muscle cross sectional area are specific to the range of motion trained (Bloomquest et al. 2013, Hartmann et al. 2012). The subjects in these studies, however, were untrained and there is evidence indicating that partial lifts, if effective, would benefit lifters with previous strength training experience (Clark et al. 2011, Massey et al. 2004, Mookerjee and Ratamess 1999).

One of the primary reasons partial squats and other partial range of motion movements may be beneficial for athletes is improved strength and explosive ability in the terminal range of motion. This is because partial squats are not limited by the sticking region, which allows for heavier loads to be lifted. Considering many athletic events involve countermovements from knee and hip angles similar to those in a partial squat has lead researchers and strength coaches to suggest partial squats may improve an athlete’s ability to perform these movements. An example from swimming would be pushing off the starting block or off the wall during a turn.

3. What specifically did your study on partial squats look at?

Our study looked at differences between two training groups in 1RM squat,Full Squats vs. partial squats 1RM partial squat (starting from safety pins), isometric squat peak force scaled and impulse scaled at 90 and 120 degrees of knee flexion. One group performed full squats only, whereas the other group performed full squats and partial squats (at 100 degree knee angle starting from pins) during a 7-week training intervention. To ensure total work completed was similar between groups we measured bar displacement and multiplied it by the total number of reps and load. The subjects had at least 1 year resistance training experience and on average squatted >1.7 x body mass (full squat depth was determined as top of leg at hip being below the knee). For a detailed description of the training program please see Bazyler et al. 2014.

4. Did you consider any other repetition schemes or partial squat training?

We based our set x rep scheme on a block periodized resistance training model aimed at improving maximal strength. Both groups performed similar rep schemes with the full range of motion only group performing more sets to equalize the work completed. The group performing full and partial squats did half their sets on full squats and half their sets on partial squats. We considered various joint angles for the partial squat, but we selected 100 degrees for safety reasons (the loads were not as heavy and were easier to control than loads at higher knee angles). We also chose this knee angle because it was above the sticking region (~90 degree knee angle).

5. What were the results of your study?

Both groups improved 1RM squat and partial squat as a result of training; however the magnitude of improvement (effect size) was slightly larger in the group performing full and partial squats. This group was able to achieve greater improvements in early isometric force-time curve characteristics at 90 degrees of knee flexion (statistically speaking, “a group*time interaction”) and much larger magnitudes of improvement at both 90 and 120 degrees of knee flexion. The magnitude of improvement in isometric squat peak force at 90 degrees was greater for the full range of motion group, but at 120 degrees the magnitude of improvement was greater for the full plus partial range of motion group. The larger magnitudes of improvement may have been due to the greater relative training intensities accomplished by the full plus partial range of motion training group during the last 3 weeks of training.

6. What were the practical implications for sports strength coaches?

Although more research needs to be performed in this area, our findings indicate that partial squats performed above the sticking region with loads greater than full squat 1RM, may result in greater improvements in strength and explosive ability at the terminal range of motion. This is relevant for strength coaches because this “top end” range of motion in the squat is included in many sport movements (i.e. sprinting, throwing a shot put, jumping to get a rebound or to hit a volleyball, a swimmer pushing off the starting block). Partial squats can be included in the training cycles preceding a competition to reduce total training volume allowing for fatigue to dissipate and fitness to be expressed.

7. Do you think the results would be different if you had untrained or elite trained?

The aforementioned studies with untrained individuals found larger magnitudes of change in 1RM strength compared to those reported in our study. This can be expected as untrained individuals have more room to improve. Additionally, these studies still observed adaptations specific to the range of motion trained. For example, Bloomquest et al. 2013 reported improvements in quadriceps (front thigh muscle) cross-sectional area at the most proximal sites for the partial range of motion squat group, whereas the full range of motion squat group improved at all sites along the length of the muscle. It is important to note that these findings along with other studies comparing full to partial range of motion squats do not rule out the use of partial squats. Athletes with more training experience (collegiate to elite) may benefit from partial squats at certain phases in the annual plan. I am not sure how the results would differ with elite athletes; no study to date that I am aware of has researched this topic with that caliber of athlete. I can say that the more important issue is how and when partial squats are incorporated into an athlete’s training plan. It is not uncommon for someone to read our findings and just “add on” partial squats to the rest of their athlete’s training program. This is a mistake that should be avoided by the strength and conditioning professional. Careful attention needs to be given to when these lifts are included in the annual plan, the impact on acute training stress, and the “after effects” carrying over to the next phase of training.

8. Should swim coaches (or swimming strength coaches) incorporate partial squat training?Partial squats and swimming start

This really is up to the discretion of the coach as it depends on the training age of the athlete. Athletes with little strength training experience would benefit greatly by performing full range of motion squats alone. Swimmers with mobility limitations beginning a strength training program may benefit from starting with a partial rather than full squat. They should still in my opinion be progressed towards full range of motion training (gradually decreasing the depth of their squat as mobility improves). Swimmers who are proficient with full squats can begin by practicing partial squats with lighter loads. If the strength coach wants to work on race starting strength then he may have the athlete perform partial squats starting with the weight resting on the safety pins; however, if the goal is to improve push of the wall during a turn, partial squats can be performed with a countermovement. Partial squats can also be performed with a triple extension to more closely mimic these swimming movements.

9. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

In our lab we are currently working on a study comparing various kinetic variables for partial squats with and without a triple extension. We are also conducting research on tapering for strength-power and team sport athletes, as limited research has been done in this area.


  1. Bloomquest, K, Langberg, H, Karlsen, S, Madsgaard, S, Boesen, M, and Raastad, T. Effect of range of motion in heavy load squatting on muscle and tendon adaptations. Eur J Appl Physiol 113: 2133–2142, 2013.
  2. Clark, RA, Humphries, B, Hohmann, E, and Bryant, AL. The influence of variable range of motion training on neuromuscular performance and control of external loads. J Strength Cond Res 25:704–711, 2011.
  3. Graves, JE, Pollock, ML, Jones, AE, Colvin, AB, and Leggett, SH. Specificity of limited range of motion variable resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 21: 84–89, 1989.
  4. Hartmann, H, Wirth, K, Klusemann, M, Dalic, J, Matuschek, C, and Schmidtbleicher, D. Influence of squatting depth on jumping performance. J Strength Cond Res 26: 3243–3261, 2012.
  5. Massey, CD, Vincent, J, Maneval, M, Moore, M, and Johnson, JT. An analysis of full range of motion vs. partial range of motion training in the development of strength in untrained men. J Strength Cond Res 18: 518–521, 2004.
  6. Mookerjee, S and Ratamess, N. Comparison of strength differences and joint action durations between full and partial range-of-motion bench press exercise. J Strength Cond Res 13: 76–81, 1999.

The post All you Need to Know About Partial Squats appeared first on Swimming Science.

SSP 012: Correcting Biomechanics, Louisiana Swimming, and Swimming Mentorship with Braden Holloway

This episode of the Swimming Science Podcast features Braden Holloway, the head coach N.C. State University. Braden and I discuss a wide range of topics, from common stroke corrections, Louisiana Swimming History, and swimming mentors.


  • Common swimming biomechanic flaws in college swimmers.
  • Louisiana swimming history.
  • Swimming mentorship.

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.



Thanks for joining me for this episode. I know the conversation broke up a few times and I apologize, I’m still very new with this! If you have any tips, suggestions, or comments about this episode, please be sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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Swimming Turns and Starts Guide to Glide and Depth

Take Home Message:
1. The aim was to perform the analysis of the final time improvement at different swimming turns push-off intensities and glide depths of a former world-ranked swimmer
2. The velocity would be 1.50, 2.18 and 3.02m/s performing the push-off 0.75m deep at 1.1, 1.5 and 2BW, respectively
3. For this swimmer, the optimal depth would be between 1.25 and 1.50m.
4. He/she would be shaving between 0.029-0.034, 0.014-0.016 and 0.007-0.008s if the push-off would be done at 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0BWs, respectively.

Every now and then I get e-mails by coaches seeking my advice on different matters, ranging from swimming turns to starts to psychology. I have to say, they are quite friendly and generous complimenting my effort (probably not always so well succeed) to explain in a straightforward way the technological innovations that can be implemented in competitive swimming.

I got a few messages bringing my attention to the talks delivered in Doha by world-class coaches at the FINA Swimming Coaches Golden Clinic. You can find the lectures on the FINA’s YouTube® channel. I will share the talk delivered by Fred Vergnoux and from here you can easily find the remaining videos. Be prepared for some hours of great viewing on swimming turns, starts, and much more! I watched all of them back-to-back and a couple did it twice.

Why did I enjoy so much? Because the clinic did not feature a group of academics (I hope not to offend my peers…) that were explaining how innovation, science and technology helps the swimmers to excel. In most of the talks, top-class coaches were able to go straight to the point on how a given device or test can be used to implement a holistic evidence-practice. They not only explain the testing procedures and devices selected, but also showcased how the insight was useful for their daily practice. However, eventually all coaches acknowledged having advisers as very well-known and established swimming researchers.

Swimming Turns and Starts

A concern that crossed over most talks was the swimming turns and starts. How to improve these two moments of the swimming race? Getting back to the e-mails that I got. Some people sought my advice on start & turns, while others suggested me to publish a post on the topic. Previously, I shared a piece on the dolphin kick. But, before the underwater kick there is the push-off and the glide. So, today let’s do the analysis of these two moments.

Swimming Turns Testing Push-Off

We do know that the swimming turns push-off must be as powerful as possible. How to measure this? Imagine that you weight yourself on a weighting scale and it displays 70kg. In your case, one body weight (to be accurate “body mass”) is 70 kg. Now, put the weighting scale on a track. You will jog and one of the strides must hit on the weighting scale. Ask someone to check the weight displayed in that exact moment that the foot strikes. The value was 210kg. Therefore, you stride at 3 times your body weight (210kg/70kg=3.0BW). In biomechanics, we have at our disposal some fancy weighting scales by the name of force plates. Not so different of the wi-fiit® though. If we set one force platform on the head-wall of the swimming pool it is possible to measure the intensity of a push-off (i.e. ground reaction force). There is evidence that good swimmers will perform the push-off between 1.1 and 1.5 body weights (BW) (e.g., Lyttle et al., 1999). In some extreme cases, they may go up to almost 2.0BW.

Swimming Turns Glide Tests

But, then we have another concern: what is the best depth for swimming turns glide? To learn that computer fluid dynamics (CFD) can be used (Marinho et al., 2009). CFD is applied in several settings and notably in motor sports. I went to my database and retrieved some old CFD data of one swimmer that our research group did the hydrodynamic analysis a long, long time ago. The swimmer used to compete on a regular basis at major international competitions (OG, WC) and has the anthropometrical features (i.e., height, weight, arm span, etc.) of a typical 100 & 200 finalist at freestyle and butterfly events. He/she as several swimmers used to perform the glide in the streamlined position at 0.75-1.0m deep.

Ok, now it’s time to advise my swimmer of the ideal swimming turns depth and push-off intensity. Let’s say that the race includes 4 glides (one at the start plus three turns). It can be the 100 SCM event or the 200 LCM (in both he/she must perform 4 glides). The question addressed to me would be: so what is the best depth and push-off? How much can I shave to the final time? I will have as a baseline a glide at 0.75m and be working from there to check what happens if he/she glides: (i) deeper or shallower than that; (ii) after a more or less powerful push-off.

Swimming Turns Push-Off

Intuitively we would say that, higher the intensity of the swimming turns push-off, the better. And the findings confirm that. He/she would have a velocity of 1.50, 2.18 and 3.02m/s performing the push-off 0.75m deep at 1.1, 1.5 and 2BW, respectively. These figures are in accordance to what can be found in the literature (Lyttle et al., 1999; Pereira et al., 2008).

If you do the push-off on an ice ring, your body will displace at a steady speed (i.e. uniform motion) because the ice and air resistance are rather low. In the water though, the drag resistance is a major player, leading to a sharp decay on the speed. That´s why we need to monitor the drag force by CFD or any other testing procedure. The bottom line is that the swimming turns push-off velocity is important, but to have an accurate estimation of the time shaved we must control the drag force and how it will affect the speed decay over the glide.

Swimming Turns Depth

Moving on to the next part of the question: the swimming turns depth. Gliding between the surface and the 0.75m or deeper than 2.5m (yes, you are right no one would glide so deep…) there is no improvement (Fig 1). Actually, the time impairs no matter the push-off intensity in these two bands.

For this swimmer, the optimal depth would be between 1.25 and 1.50m. He/she would be shaving between 0.029-0.034, 0.014-0.016 and 0.007-0.008s if the push-off would be done at 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0BWs, respectively. If the event includes 8 glides (200SCM or 400LCM) the swimmer would improve up to 0.032-0.068s.

Swimming Turns Depth

Swimming Turns Push-off and Glide Improvement

One may argue than an improvement of 0.014-0.068s it’s not exactly impressive, which is partially right. But then again, we are only analyzing the swimming turns glides and neglecting other race moments. If we add these 0.014-0.068s to other improvements, this is something to take into account. Here it is the typical marginal gain “theory” taking place as popularized by Dave Brailsford. Plus, we all are able to recall dramatic races that a swimmer won/lost a gold medal, got a record, did the cut-off to the national squad by 0.014-0.068s.

For those that are not so familiar with swimming, please refer to table 1. You will find the final times in one of the most exciting races in the recent swimming history: Men’s 200m butterfly final at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I am not suggesting that in this particular race the glide was the determinant factor. It is far more complex than that. The point here is to showcase to laymen that there are races decided by as little as 0.1s or even less.

table1A follow-up question would be how long the swimmer should glide. That is a very interesting point, and let me keep this hanging here. We might cover that topic some other time. Allow me to wrap-up saying that the data shared in this piece are only representative of this former swimmer and does not mean necessarily that are the optimal values to others. This kind of analysis must be tailored to the swimmer´s characteristics and race strategy.

Hopefully, I was able to showcase how innovation, science and technology can be useful; despite in a less brilliant way than the presenters at the Coaches Clinic in Doha.

Have fun watching the talks!


  1. Lyttle AD, Blanksby BA, Elliott BC, Lloyd DG (1999). Investigating kinetics in the freestyle flip turn push-off. J Appl Biomech 15: 242-252
  2. Marinho DA, Barbosa TM, Klendlie PL, Vilas-Boas JP, Alves FB, Rouboa AI, SILVA AJ (2009). Swimming Simulation. In: Peter M (ed.). Computational Fluid Dynamics for Sport Simulation. pp. 33-61. Springer-Verlag. Heidelberg.
  3. Pereira S, Vilar S, Gonçalves P, Figueiredo P, Fernandes R, Roesler H, Vilas-Boas JP (2008). A combined biomechanical analysis of the flip turn technique. In: Kwon YH, Shim J, Shim JK , Shin IS (eds). 26 International Conference on Biomechanics in Sports. pp. 699-702. Seoul.

By Tiago M. Barbosa PhD degree recipient in Sport Sciences and faculty at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The post Swimming Turns and Starts Guide to Glide and Depth appeared first on Swimming Science.

Butterfly with Hand Paddles

This interview is an interview with Thiago Telles. Thiago has a great background in swimming with swimming and research and is applying his practical knowledge towards swimming research (see his research here). This interview mainly discusses his work on hand paddles and parachutes in butterfly (see here for the article).

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

I started on swimming in my childhood in Brazil, I was swimmer for some years on my teenager and after that, I decided to go forward and study it for my professional life. In the college I knew the biomechanics and thought why don’t I use both together? At the same time, I was invited to assume a job of coach assistant in my hometown swim club. For some years I have had hard work in both sides: academic and swim club. I had a biomechanics course, master and doctor; and in the swim team I became coach, head coach and director of the entire team. At one point, I had to choose between the swim team and the academic life and I decided to dedicate my life to my passion about academic works.

2. You recently published an article on the effects of paddles and parachutes in butterfly. First, what characteristics make an elite butterfly swimmers?

Actually in swimming it is too easy to separate the elite swimmers and the non-elite swimmers: the time. If the swimmer is capable to swim fast or not. But we might separate some skills that they must know how to perform. In my opinion, the first thing is about the undulation. They must know how to use it. After that, the coordination is also important: two leg kicks for each stroke. The relationship between the head and the hip along the undulation and the head recovery before the arms recovery in the breathing. But all these things depends directly in which amount of water the swimmer can move in each stroke. Others skills on the start, and a lot of details on the turn are also required to the high level.

3. What do we know about paddles and parachutes in freestyle swimming?

In the “academic world” there are several studies using front crawl with hand paddles and it is a little bit smaller using parachutes. The hand paddles increases the hand surface, so the swimmer is capable to move more amount of water in each stroke; to it, they must perform more strength in each stroke. It increases the size of each stroke and decreases the number of strokes to cover the same distance. Some studies shows that the direction of the strength application with hand can change in a good way, and the electromyography activity is similar with and without hand paddles. On the other hand, the parachutes increases the total drag. It increases the total resistance to be overcame by the swimmers. It also can change the hand trajectory. Both changes the coordination in front crawl, they induces the swimmers to keep the propulsive continuity.

4. What do we know about these resistance devices in other strokes?

We know that these implements also modified the front crawl coordination. It became better when the same gear sizes were used.

5. What did your study look at?

My study have tried to understand how the overload might change the coordination during their use. And after the results, we have tried to suggest some useful ways to put it on the training.

6. What were the results of your study?

We found that some conditions (using implements) improved the coordination on butterfly swimming.

7. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?

We have showed which experimental conditions are better to use and which is not for the overloaded butterfly training.

8. Do you think the results would be different if you had older, elite or untrained swimmers?

Yes, for sure. The coordination changes with gender, age, skill level and velocity (and distance).

9. What does the research suggest about the power rack or power tower and swimming (free and any other strokes)?

These devices can be other options to be used for the overload on swimming. My main concern about these devices are the displacement on the swimming pool, the load should be accordingly with the swimmer, and have to allow the swimmer to move along the pool. They can’t be swimming on the spot. But I’m unaware about scientific researchers using it.

10. How much resistance with a parachute or how large of paddles should a swimmer wear? Does that depend on their speed, if so how can you figure an appropriate application?

It is a good question and a hard task. The coaches have to know that only swimmers with a good technique should use these implements. In addition, the coaches have to balance stroke rate and strength application by the swimmers. This way, they must swimming in almost the same way without gears. If they improve velocity, they will have to put more strength in each stroke.

11. What makes your research on butterfly with hand paddles and parachutes different from others?

Our research was the first one to analyze butterfly with hand paddles and parachutes.

12. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

My Professor guide in Brazil was my main inspiration to do that and, on the other way, the lack of information about the use the implements by the teachers (actually coaches) in Brazil have inspired me a lot. It is good to contribute a little beat to improve the Brazilian swimmers training.

13. What areas of swimming research still need investigating?

When we put the implements on the spot, many things still need to be investigated, but for it, the researchers have to understand which the main concerns of the coaches are. The first step was the behavior with the implements, and now on the task is understand exactly how and why all this things have happened.

14. How would you implement parachutes and hand paddles for a fully developed elite 20-year-old swimmer?

They have to be adapted to use it and they have to put all the steps on a training program (almost like on the gym). The first step is the body’s preparation, they can use little load during big times in slow velocities (small rest times). After that, is possible to improve velocity and decrease the volume (rest time accordingly to the specialty of the swimmer), and the last step is to increase the overload (or the coaches can to that in each step before move to the next).

15. At what age do you feel these external aides can be used?

My suggest is to use it for high-level swimmers since 15, but the coaches have to use the right overload sizes, exposition time and set purpose.

16. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

Other studies evaluating resisted swimming with others kinds of implements, sizes of them and others perspectives (other methods) of evaluating will help the coaches to improve their training. I am already working on that and they will be soon be online.

The post Butterfly with Hand Paddles appeared first on Swimming Science.

Comparison of the Short Course Meters Woman’s 100 Breaststroke World Record

Take Home Message:

  1. The aim was to: (i) compare Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) WR in Moscow (October 2013) and Alia Atkinson (JAM) in Doha (November 2014), both with a time of 1:02.36; (ii) learn the effect of the taper on Alia´s performance (Singapore vs. Doha races, 5 weeks apart).
  2. Water entry and water break was not different comparing Ruta and Alia.
  3. Alia Atkinson showed a shift in the stroke kinematics between the Singapore and Doha events (decrease in the clean speed, stroke length and efficiency but increase in the stroke rate).
  4. Alia’s breakout was around the 8-9m and 9-10m distances in Singapore and Doha, respectively. She not only stayed underwater longer, but the turning speed was also higher (10.6% and 6.9% faster in the first and last turns).

A lot was already said about Alia´s WR and gold medal at the SCM World Championships held last December in Doha. It is great for her, for Jamaica and for the World swimming according to the reasons pointed out in a very comprehensive way in the specialized media. Let´s go back one month, November 2014. Early that month, a few weeks before the Championships, it was held here in Singapore the last leg of the 2014 FINA World Cup Series. Overall, the leg was fairly entertaining considering that: (i) most swimmers were away from home at several weeks to compete at the legs of the Asian cluster; (ii) each leg is a two-days meet packed with a lot of events; (iii) most swimmers race more than two events per day; (iv) there are claims that some of them still have training sessions between the morning and evening races; (v) probably they are looking forward to the World Championships in 4-5 weeks time. However, a couple of athletes posted very promising races, swimming at world record paces.

That time, my comment to a few friends and peers was that if Chad and Alia can race at WR pace 4-5 weeks before Doha, after a good taper, probably they will smash some records in December. So, we must keep an eye on them. Surprisingly, at least for some people, that did happen. So this bring us to today´s post: (i) compare Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) WR in Moscow (October 2013) and Alia Atkinson (JAM) in Doha (November 2014), both with a time of 1:02.36; (ii) learn the effect of the taper on Alia´s performance (Singapore vs. Doha, 5 weeks apart).

Race analysis was done as reported in my previous posts on Ruta Meilutyte’s 100 SCM World Record Race Analysis. The Doha race can be found on YouTube® and the one in Singapore I recorded on the stands.

Ruta is well known to be very quick on the blocks (i.e. reaction time). However the water entry and water break is not so different comparing RM and AA (table 1). Between Singapore and Doha, Alia covered one more meter fully immersed but only spent an extra 0.13s. Hence, one might consider that she improved the first and second glides in the start (RM: 2.43m/s; AA: 2.30m/s and 2.44m/s; an improvement of 5.8% in 5 weeks).

table 1

AA was slightly faster in the first split than RM (AA: 29.46s; RM: 29.56s) but that paid-off even though she was slower by 0.1s in the following one (Table 2). In Singapore, AA did the first split at the WR pace (29.58s). I am not sure if she was only testing paces, really wanted to break the World record but was too tired, saving energy for the remaining events of the session because she raced back-to-back two finals: the W100Br (at 06:24pm) and the W200IM (at 06:53pm). Only she and her coach have the right answer to that.

table 2

Surprisingly the Atkinson´s stroke kinematics were slightly lower than the one performed by RM (table 3). Clean speed, stroke length and efficiency (i.e. stroke index) are lower, but the stroke rate higher. Interestingly, the same trend can be verified comparing the Singapore leg with Doha´s final. In Singapore, 81.8% of the speed was related to the stroke length, while in Doha only 35.34%. So, it seems that she had a strategy based on the stroke rate in Doha, a nice and “smoother” technique in Singapore.

So far, we learned that Alia Atkinson start was quite good, and there was a shift in the stroke kinematics. This lead us to the question on how did she performed during the turns and the finish.
table 3

Over the three turns, AA increased the distance to the water break (table 4). She was doing the water break around the 8-9m and 9-10m distances in Singapore and Doha, respectively. Not only she stayed longer fully immersed but the turning speed was also higher (10.6% and 6.9% faster in the first and last turns). Regarding the finish, the difference between RM and AA is 0.06s. AA showed a slight improvement by 0.04s (1.2%) between November and December. Therefore, it seems that the turns were determinant for Alias Atkinson World Record.
table 4

table 5

To wrap-up, comparing RM and AA WR at the W100Br by the same time of 1:02.36, it seems that the start and the turns were determinants for the later swimmer´s performance. Over that race, the clean swimming relied more on the stroke rate than the stroke length or swimming efficiency. That improvement on the start and turns did happen between the race delivered in Singapore and the final in Doha. Moreover, there was a slight shift in the swimming mechanics (higher SR, lower SL).

Can’t wait for the long course meters woman’s 100 breaststroke world record showdown, any predictions?

By Tiago M. Barbosa PhD degree recipient in Sport Sciences and faculty at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The post Comparison of the Short Course Meters Woman’s 100 Breaststroke World Record appeared first on Swimming Science.