Race Analysis and Video: Katie Ledecky 400 Free World Record

Take Home Points on Race Analysis and Video: Katie Ledecky 400 Free World Record
  • Katie Ledecky broke the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle world records in roughly one and a half month, being the first American swimmer holding the big-three middle- and long-distance records after Janet Evans.
  • She swam the 1500m at a 1:02 pace, the 800m in negative split and the 400m with two splits bellow one minute.
  • There is a trend for the number of strokes per lap decrease with increasing distance (1500m: first half 38 and second half 39-40; 800m: 40-41; 400m: first half 39 and second half 40-41).
A good piece of news is when a man bites the dog. Katie Ledecky breaking another world
record is not a surprise or comes out of the blue. But to be the first woman after Janet Evans holding the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle records, that is truly… remarkable. We are talking about three world records broken in roughly one and a half month, wearing textile swimsuits and still on the road to the season´s major competition. On top of that, she posted the 2nd best time in the world at the 200m event (as on 10 August 2014; table 1).



As you can imagine I did not have much time to carry a deep analysis. So, my purpose for today is to compare the split times and number of strokes per split in the four events. Split times were retrieved from the competitions´ websites. I will report both the 50m (figure 1) and 100m (main text) split times. The stroke count (number of strokes per 50m split) was done after downloading the videos from the web. Unfortunately for the 1500m event, I failed to find the full race. There is one video available that is a 7 minutes condensed version of the race from beginning to end. So, I had to interpolate some missing data (dash line in figure 2). If you wish the number of stroke cycles rather than the number of strokes, just divide the figures reported by two.

Regarding the split times (figure 1): (i) a very stable swim pace at the 1500m (around 1:02) and she end the race in 1:00.7; (ii) we can see clearly the negative split at the 800m event; (iii) in the 400m, two splits bellow one minute (57.74; 59.98) and remaining two inside the “double-0” (1:00.68; 1:00.46); (iv) in the shortest event, splits where 56.64 and 58.52, respectively. Probably several countries would like to have their top-sprinters doing these 200m splits.


The partial difference (table 2) of Ledecky´s split times in the 1500m in comparison with the: (i) 800m is between -0.44% and 3.89%; (ii) 400m, 3.05-4.20%; (iii) 200m, 5.60-6.80%. I.e. the first half of the 1500m and the 800m paces are fairly similar (on average a 0.40s difference per 100m split). In the last 100m of both races (i.e. 1400-1500m and 700-800m) she clocked 1:00.7 and 1:00.12 (difference: 0.58s).


Concerning to the stroke counts: (i) there is a trend for the number of strokes per lap decrease with increasing distance; (ii) number of strokes increases in the second half of the 1500m event from 38 to 39-40; (iii) in the 800m event the number of strokes was rather stable, between 40 and 41; (iv) in the 400m event, we can see again that the number of strokes increases in the second half from 39 to 40-41; (v) as expected the 200m is the race with the highest number of strokes per split (38-41); (vi) it might be interesting to pinpoint that Katie did 33, 34 and 35 strokes (first split) and 38, 38 and 29 strokes (second and third splits) in the 1500, 800 and 400m events, respectively.


My guess (my bet?) is that the figures I report here might be of no use by the end of the summer. After the Pan Pacs, to be held in late August, we may need to update this post. I hope you enjoyed the analysis though.


By Tiago M. Barbosa that earned a PhD degree in Sport Sciences and holds a faculty position at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Sarah Sjöström LCM 50 Fly World Record: Race Analysis and Video

Take Home Points on Sarah Sjöström LCM 50 Fly World Record: Race Analysis and Video

  1. The start, clean swimming and finish took 26.56%, 8.47% and 64.97% of the race, respectively 
  2. So during non-breathing cycles for one side the drag is lower and the propulsion is higher, leading to higher speeds. 
  3. The duration of the underwater path is higher performing non-breathing cycles and this is more obvious during the most propulsive phases (insweep and upsweep) 
  4. Performing non-breathing cycles at butterfly, the frontal surface area and the drag is lower 
  5. Sarah Sjöström did not perform one single breath during the race 

The news of the week is that Sarah Sjöström (SWE) shaved 0.64s to Theresa Alshammar´s WR, clocking 24.43s in the LCM 50 Fly during the Swedish National Championships.

For this analysis I retrieved the video from Youtube. Procedures are almost the same reported earlier in another post. Please bear in mind that we have over here some shortcuts as the video is far from being the best. Albeit the challenge, hopefully the analysis will provide us some insight about this amazing race.
Some points to highlight from table 1:

1. The water entry is almost the same reported for Ruta Meilutyte´s WR last October. Sarah did the water entry at 2.86m and Ruta at 2.85m. A swimmer should try to enter the water as far away as possible. Air resistance is lower than water resistance enabling a higher speed (Vantorre et al., 2014). 

2. The start represents 26.56% of the full race (6.49s in 24.43s). The finish (i.e. last 5m) took 2.07s (8.47%). So the clean swimming represents the remaining 64.97%. For more details about the partial contribution of each race segment to the final time, I invite you to read another post.

3. Sarah breaks the surface 4.46s after the starting signal. I have no way to report an accurate distance. I would say that the water break happened around the 12th meter, because she did one and a half stroke cycles (almost two cycles) till the 15m mark. For a SL of roughly 2m, this means that after breaking the water surface, she traveled 3m to reach the 15m mark. There is evidence that drag is lower fully submerged than on surface. On surface, drag force is the sum of three components (friction, pressure and wave). If one swims fully submerged, there is no wave drag. Wave drag is 50–60% of the total passive drag on elite swimmers (Vennell et al., 2006).

4. Swim speed shows an “U” shape. I.e., a high speed in the first split, a slight decrease in the second (0.09m/s) and an increase in the last one (0.04m/s). These “U” and “zig-zag” profiles are reported on regular basis in the literature and any practitioner is aware of it. Having said that, she has an impressive average speed of 2.05m/s.

5. Swim speed depends from the relationship between SR and SL. There was a trend for a SR increase and a SL decrease over the race, probably due to peripheral fatigue. Anyway, we should acknowledge that the SL is quite high. To increase the speed, most elite swimmers increase the SR because the SL is fairly high and constant no matter the swim pace (Barbosa et al, 2008). Likewise, the SI is also very high but tends to decrease slightly (11.4%) throughout the race.

6. Sarah Sjöström did not perform one single breath during the race. If I remember, Theresa Alshammar did the same in 2009. There is evidence that performing non-breathing cycles at butterfly, the frontal surface area (i.e. the angle between the trunk and the horizontal plane) is lower (Barbosa, 2000). Therefore one might speculate that the intra-cyclic variation of the drag force will decrease.

7. If we breakdown the stroke cycle into hands´underwater path and arms´ recovery, we can learn that the first took on average 0.56s (60.43% of the full cycle). Research comparing different breathing techniques reported that the underwater path is higher performing non-breathing cycles than frontal or lateral breaths, at least in national level butterfliers (Barbosa, 2000). This increase is quite obvious during the most propulsive phases (insweep and upsweep). It was also reported that the recovery will take less time holding the breath (Hahn and Krung, 1992). 

8. So during non-breathing cycles the drag is lower and the propulsion is higher, leading to higher speeds. One way to understand such relationship between propulsion and drag is assessing the intra-cyclic variation of the mechanical impulse. When the mechanical impulse is positive, it means that the propulsion acting upon the swimmer is higher than the drag. If the mechanical impulse is negative, hence the propulsion is lower than the drag. In one paper it was reported that even though there was no significant differences, the intra-cyclic variation is lower performing non-breathing cycles (Barbosa et al., 2002). So, the swim stroke is smoother, with less variations and probably more efficient.

9. However, the most impressive thing is that Sarah shaved 0.64s to a 50m sprint (2.55% improvement) wearing a textile swimsuit. During the high-tech era (2008-2009), manufactures claimed that their swimsuits would improve the performances in 2 to 4%. If so, that means that Theresa wearing a textile swimsuit at the World Championships held in Rome would had set a time between 25.57 and 26.07s.

References


  1. Barbosa TM (2000). Análise tridimensional da cinemática da técnica de Mariposa ao realizarem-se ciclos de inspiração frontal, ciclos de inspiração lateral e ciclos não inspiratórios [3D kinematical analysis of the butterfly stroke performed with frontal breathing, lateral breathing and non-breathing cycles]. MSc thesis. Faculty of Sport Sciences of the University of Porto (Portugal).
  2. Barbosa TM, Santos Silva JV, Sousa F Vilas-Boas JP (2002). Measurement of butterfly average resultant impulse per phase. In: K Gianikellis (ed). Proceeding of the XXth International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports. pp. 35-38. Universidad de Extremadura, Cáceres.
  3. Barbosa TM, Keskinen KL, Fernandes, RJ, Vilas-Boas JP (2008). The influence of stroke mechanics into energy cost of elite swimmers. Eur J Appl Physiol. 103: 139-149
  4. Hahn A, Krung T (1992). Application of knowledge gained from the coordenation of partial movements in Breaststroke and Butterfly swimming for the development of technical training. In: D. Maclaren, T. Reilly and A. Lees (eds.). Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming VI, pp. 167-172. E & FN Spon, London.
  5. Vantorre J, Chollet D, Seifert L. (2014). Biomechanical Analysis of the Swim-Start: A Review. J Sport Sci Med 13: 223-231
  6. Vennell R, Pease D, Wilson B. Wave drag on human swimmers. J Biomech 2006: 39: 664–671.
By Tiago M. Barbosa that earned a PhD degree in Sport Sciences and holds a faculty position at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Race Analysis: Cesar Cielo 21.39 50 LCM Freestyle

First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. 

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. Below is the video of Cesar Cielo's 21.39. Check out our past 50 free WR Comparison.

Cesar Cielo 21.39 50 LCM Freestyle

Start

Compared to his world record swim, Cielo spends more time underwater, bringing him close to the 15-m mark. This dropped his stroke count from 4 (during his world record) to 2 strokes. This propelled him to a 15-m time of 4.89-seconds, nearly two tenths faster than his world record swim. This adjustment in his start gives one of the fastest times to the 15-m mark, comparable to Brad Tandy and George Bovell (other members of the >3.0 m/s club).

15 - 25 Meters

Cesar continued this speed as he reached the halfway mark, taking 8 strokes from 15 - 25 meters, the same as his world record swim. His velocity was nearly identical as his world record swim during this portion of the race (~2.7 m/s).

25 - 35 Meters

During the next leg, Cesar took one less stroke than his world record swim. However, this was likely continued from his longer start and finishing his either stroke during the last portion directly at the end of the 25-m mark. This part had similar time and velocity as his world record swim.

35 - 50 Meters

Into the wall, Cielo took one more stroke than his world record swim (equaling his stroke count in the world record race after removing the first 15 - m). However, this portion was nearly ~.50 seconds slower than his world record swim. 

Swimmer Advice

Maintain current start and underwater duration, as it provided significant time improvement. Work on maintaining stroke rate (seconds/stroke) at 0.18, instead of 0.16. Consider performing maximal efforts with tempo trainer with this set tempo. 

Written by G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent  diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Race Analysis and Video: Emma Reaney 2:04.06 200 SCY Breaststroke NCAA Record

First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. 

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. Below is the video of Reaney's swim and showdown with former NCAA record holder and Olympian Breeja Larson:
[Thanks to Rhys Brennan on YouTube]

Emma Reaney 2:04.06 200 SCY Breaststroke NCAA Record

Emma Reaney was not well known before breaking the NCAA in this event at her conference championship meet a few weekends ago. As you'll see stroke rate consistency and her pullouts helped her turn in the fastest time every in the 200 breaststroke SCY.

First 50

Emma had an excellent start, gracefully reaching 15-m and taking 4 strokes over the entire lap. These four strokes are an important feature, as she used ~4 strokes from the 15-m mark into the wall for the first 125 yards. Her velocity to 15-m was 1.63 on the second 25, which was consistently faster than her competition. She also had a faster stroke rate than Larson, potentially giving her more speed and her lead at the first 50.

Second 50

Emma extended her lead on the second 50, maintaining a stroke pull out (~1.55 m/s to 15-m) on the 3rd and 4th 25, while maintaining her stroke length and tempo. She held six strokes per lap, with excellent turn timing, as noted in the photo below.


Third 50

Emma extended her lead on the third 50, maintaining 15-m under 10 seconds with her velocity around~1.55 m/s to 15-m [note her 15-m distance compared to Katie Olsen below her]. She continued to maintain her stroke count, as her competitors increased their tempo.

Fourth 50

Over the last 50, Emma began showing signs of fatigue, most notably by a shorter and slower breakout. However, she keep her strong long, keeping her stroke count at 6 strokes per lap. This consistent stroke count gave her excellent timing on her turns.


Swimmer Advice

The swimmer demonstrates excellent swimming stroke count consistency. Emma may benefit from maintaining her pull out distance and velocity on the last two laps. This may be improved with proper "hypoxic" training [more correctly hypercapnic training] training (Friday Interview: Dr. Chia-Hua Kuo and Dr. Futoshi Ogita).

Written by G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent  diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Race Analysis: Michael Andrew 19.85 50-Yard Free

First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. 

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. This analysis breaks down Michael Andrew's 19.85 50 yard freestyle race. Check out our previous Race Analysis and Video of Caleb Dressel 18.94Stat Sunday: WR analysis Men's 50 free.

Michael Andrew 50 Yard Free - 19.85 seconds

Michael Andrew swam a remarkable race for his age over the past weekend in the 50 free. Could anyone have imagined a 14-year-old swimming a 50 yard free under 20 seconds a decade ago? I sure couldn't and if you want more of my thoughts see more on young swimmer 50-yard-free progression.

First 25

Unlike Brad Tandy and Caleb Dressel, Andrew does not perform as long as an underwater phase as he surfaced in ~3.38 seconds. This put him ~0.5 seconds behind Caleb Dressel at the 15-m mark and 0.8 seconds behind Tandy. Once swimming, Andrew had a the same distance per stroke into the wall as Tandy and Dressel and only slightly shorter distance per stroke than Cielo.

Second 25

A similar race occurred on Andrew's 2nd 25 compared to the other great swimmers. He broke the surface 0.3 - 0.4 seconds earlier than Dressel and Tandy resulting in him taking two more strokes over the first 15-m. On the last 8.6-yard, Andrew posted the same distance per stroke as Cielo and Tandy (even better than Dressel). [race video if embedded video doesn't work].

Conclusions on Michael Andrew 50-yard Free

Michael Andrew demonstrated excellent distance per stroke and swimming speed, comparable to elite swimmers over the course of the 50-yard free. However, improvements are required on his start and turn, so he can reach a starting velocity ~3.0 m/s. 
B. Tandy Breakout

Michael Andrew Breakout

Swimmer Advice: Consider working on more starts and turns, using more underwater kicking

G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent  diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Race Analysis and Video: Brad Tandy 18.80 50 SCY Free

First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. 

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. This analysis breaks down Brad Tandy's 18.80 50 yard freestyle race at Pac-12 championships. Check out our previous Race Analysis and Video of Caleb Dressel 18.94; Stat Sunday: WR analysis Men's 50 free.

Brad Tandy 50 Yard Free - 18.80 seconds

Brad Tandy had a great swim in the 50 yard free at Pac-12 Championships on March 6th 2014. Most notably was his start and underwater dolphin kicking. These components provided him a faster 15-m time than Cesar Cielo's record of 18.47. 

First 25

Once again, Tandy's start was his largest asset, helping him to a velocity of 3.09 m/s and a 0-15 m time of ~4.84 seconds. He took only one stroke to the 15-m mark and eight strokes for the first lap, two whole strokes less than Cielo's race.


Second 25

On the second 25, Tandy used his velocity from the first 25 for a similar 25 breakout time as Cielo. However, his time to the 15-m mark was ~0.3 seconds slower than Cielo, despite having the same stroke count as fourteen (seven to the 15-m mark and seven into the wall). This slower second 25 was likely aided by a much slower stroke rate (1.99 vs. 2.04).

Conclusions on Brad Tandy 50 Yard Free

Brad Tandy demonstrated an excellent start and underwater kicking. For further improvement, he should work on maintaining a higher stroke rate during the second 25 of the race. 

Swimmer Advice: Considering swimming with a tempo trainer at a faster rate (~0.48) during hypoxic [more correctly hypercapnic training] training (Friday Interview: Dr. Chia-Hua Kuo and Dr. Futoshi Ogita). 

G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Open Water Swimming Performance Trends

Take Home Points on Open Water Swimming Performance Trends

  1. Open water performance peaks in the mid to early 20s for both men and women.
  2. Overall performances have generally slowed.
  3. Slowing overall times may reflect the importance of tactical surging throughout the race.
Open water swimming has been around for many years, but has grown in stature with its
inclusion in the Olympic schedule. With Olympic hardware at stake, the sport attracts even higher level competition with stalwarts like Ous Meloulli and Grant Hackett having competed in the open water. Naturally, the sport has different demands than the pool, but shares common variables.

There’s plenty of research on open water safety and tactics for channel crossings and marathon swims, along with other research on triathlon swim performance (1500m to 2.4 miles in Olympic and Ironman events). However, our focus here will be on performance characteristics in the main swimming open water events: 5k, 10k, and 25k.

Most recently, Zinng (2014) studied over a decade of World Cup performances from 2000-2012. Key findings included the following:
  1. Female swimming speed in the top 10 performances decreased in both the 5k and 25k events significantly, but significantly increased in the 10k. 
  2. Male swimming speed in the top 10 decreased in the 5k, but remained unchanged in the other two events 
  3. Females peaked at age 22.5 in the 5k, 23.4 in the 10k, 23.8 in the 25k. This average remained consistent through the study period. 
  4. Males peaked at age 24.8 and 27.2 in the 5k and 25k respectively. During the study period, the peak age in the 10k increased significantly from 23.7 to 28.0. 
Vogt (2013) studied similar data, but in a shorter time period covering World Cup races from 2008 through 2012. This research team found that “performances remained stable for the fastest elite open water swimmers [both genders] at 10 km FINA competitions between 2008 and 2012, while performances of the top ten men tended to decrease.” They also completed a gender comparison, finding that in this sample (A total of 2,591 swimmers (i.e. 1,120 women and 1,471 men)), women were approximately 7% slower than male times. 


Though 7% was shown to be a smaller gender differential compared to other ultra-endurance sports, it is an even greater difference compared to pool times. As a reference, the difference between the 1500m male and female world records is approximately 3% (Sun Yang’s 14:31 vs. Katie Ledecky’s 15:36). It could also be true that because surging plays such a key role in open water events to stay with a pack (or break those trying to keep contact), the anaerobic demands may be underappreciated. Yet in a sample of elite open water swimmers, VanHeest (2004) found that “lactate threshold (LT) occurred at a pace equal to 88.75% of peak pace for males and 93.75% for females.” 

Practical Implications on Open Water Swimming Trends

Based on the current data, it’s hard to make training conclusions beyond those pertaining to each individual athlete. The data mostly serve a descriptive purpose and perhaps highlight the role of tactics and conditions in the open water. Though most would subjectively agree that more top level swimmers are testing the open water, times have not improved significantly, and in some cases have gotten slower. Regardless of time, it is abundantly clear that open water remains an outlet where post collegiate swimmers may continue competing at a high level without the competition from precocious age groupers!

References
  1. Zingg MA, Rüst CA, Rosemann T, Lepers R, Knechtle B1. Analysis of swimming performance in FINA World Cup long-distance open water races. Extrem Physiol Med. 2014 Jan 2;3(1):2. doi: 10.1186/2046-7648-3-2.
  2. Vogt P1, Rüst CA, Rosemann T, Lepers R, Knechtle B. Analysis of 10 km swimming performance of elite male and female open-water swimmers. Springerplus. 2013 Nov 12;2:603. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-603. eCollection 2013.
  3. VanHeest JL1, Mahoney CE, Herr L. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):302-5. Characteristics of elite open-water swimmers.
Written by Allan Phillips is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and owner of Pike Athletics. He is also an ASCA Level II coach and USA Triathlon coach. Allan is a co-author of the Troubleshooting System and was selected by Dr. Mullen as an assistant editor of the Swimming Science Research Review. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at US Army-Baylor University.

Race Analysis and Video of Nick Thoman 44.07 100 Yard Backstroke

First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. 

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. This analysis breaks down Nick Thoman's 44.07 100 yard backstroke race (almost a 0.5 second drop from the previous 100 yard record). Check out our previous WR Analysis: Men's 100 back.

History of 100 - Yard Men Backstroke Record

In 1997, Neil Walker set the bar high with a blazing split under 45 seconds at 44.92. This amazing record stood for nine years, until the great Ryan Lochte broke the record with a 44.60 leading off the Florida University 400 medley relay. In the 2010 NCAA championships, Eugene Godsoe went a 44.93 in a textile suit and briefly slower than Walker's 44.92. The next 100 yard back contender was Albert Subritas, but no one touched the record until 2012 when Matt Grevers went a 44.55. A few weeks back Nick Thoman (and Matt Grevers) broke the record, lowering the mark quite a bit, to an astounding 44.07! Click here for a more detailed history by one of the greats, Josh Davis.

Nick Thoman 100 Back SCY - 44.07 seconds

Nick Thoman put together a historic race in this 100 back (click here for the video). When looking at the statistics, the most impressive aspect of this swim is Nick's consistency. He is able to go ~15-m off each wall and reach the 15-m mark no slower than 6.76 seconds! His lap 25 was only ~0.4 seconds slower to the 15-m mark than his second 25! 

First 25

Nick had a great start and performed double leg kicking (dolphin kicking) to the 15-m mark in 5.73 seconds. He took six strokes from the 15-m mark to the wall and had a distance per stroke of 1.43 strokes/meter with an accompanying stroke rate of 1.30 stokes/second. 



Second 25

On the second 25, Thoman performed double leg kicking and took one stroke into the 15-m mark in 6.37 seconds. This was at a velocity of 2.3 m/s. His time into the wall was 4.89 s and once again took 6 strokes, giving him the same distance per stroke while his stroke rate increased to 1.35 strokes/second.

Third 25

On the third lap, Thoman took 6.64 seconds to get to the 15-m mark and once again only took one stoke. Once again, he took 6 strokes into the wall (giving him the same distance per stroke) and once again increasing his stroke rate to 1.43 strokes/second.

Fourth 25

This is the wall where Thoman really put the hammer down against Grevers (who was next to him). He once again only took one stroke to the 15-m mark and get to this point in about 6.76 seconds! Into the wall, Thoman charged hard, increasing his stroke rate and count (up to 7 strokes on this lap). This allowed him to have his second fastest lap on the last lap! 

Conclusions on Nick Thoman's 44.07 100 Yard Back

Consistency! Nick's 2nd - 4th laps were extremely consistent, especially his dolphin kicking and breakout distance. In a stroke where double leg kicking is most utilized, it is amazing to see it finally being perfected over an entire race! Once again, double leg kicking is likely the fastest "stroke", so it should be utilized as much as possible! 

G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Partial Contribution of Each Race Segment to the World Records Broken at the 2013 FINA World Cup Swimming Series

Take Home Points on FINA World Cup Swimming Series World Records

  1. Starts and turns are determinant race segments in SCM races;
  2. Partial contribution of the start plus turns to a SCM World records is 40% to 50%
  3. Coaches should consider spending an appropriate amount of time practicing starts and turns according to its contribution to final race time.
FINA World Cup is a series of SCM competitions organized by FINA since 1988/1989. Nowadays is split in three clusters (Europe: Eindhoven, Berlin; Middle East: Moscow, Dubai, Doha; Asia: Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo). The interest for the FINA World Cup boosted this year. Excluding the recently recognized mixed relays, in 2013 eleven World Records were set at the Series.

The aim was to analyze the partial contribution of each race segment to the World Records broken at the 2013 FINA World Cup Series. In the event of a World Record being set several times for the same race, it was considered only the latest (table 1). A search was conducted online to retrieve the videos of such races (e.g., FINA TV, YouTube). Unfortunately it was not possible to download the videos of two races (i.e. 100IM and 400IM). For the 100IM it was spotted another World Record set by the same swimmer a few days before, which was used for further analysis.

Table 1. SCM world records (WR) broken at the 2013 FINA World cup series (as on the 5th Nov 2013).

It was done the breakdown of the race in: (i) start; (ii) clean swimming; (iii) turns; (iv) finish. Criteria available in literature to determine each one of these segments is based on fixed distances, notably for LCM races. E.g., the start ends at the 15m mark and the turns are set as the 7.5m in and out of the wall (Cossor and Manson, 2001; Mason and Cossor, 2001). It is quite challenging to consider that same criteria when we talk about SCM races though. In such case, during the first lap we would have only 2.5m of clean swimming (15m start plus 7.5m in-turn). So, there was the need to change these criteria. The start was defined as the time spent between the starting signal and the end of the first complete stroke cycle (after the dive, glide, underwater kick and head´s break). The turn was defined as the time between the stroke cycle before the last and the first complete stroke cycle (after the rotation, glide, underwater kick and head´s break). The finish was the time spent to swim the last 5m of the race. All times were measured with a motion analysis tool (Kinovea, v.0.8.15, Bordeaux, France).

First of all, we should be careful interpreting the data. Bear in mind that we are talking about oranges and apples. We have World Records set by different genders, distances and techniques. Even so, it seems quite obvious the trend. As distance increases, the partial contribution of the start and finish to final time decreases (figure 1). The turn time also decreases but in a less sharp way. Please check how important is the turn at butterfly (53.17% of Chad´s race time). Since the FINA World cup series are held in SCM swimming pools, for sure the turns have a higher importance than LCM. A fair analysis would be to compare the 100IM, 200IM and 400IM WRs by Katinka in 5 days (between 7 and 11 Aug 2013). I have to share with you that being unable to retrieve her latest 100IM and the 400IM World Records was very disappoint. I am such a fan of hers and Shane Tusup. What an amazing journey they have been on…

Figure 1. Partial contribution (in %) of each race segment to final time.

Another way to analyze the data is gathering race segments. Swimming (clean swim plus finish) represents between 49% and 70% of the race (table 2). For races up to 200m, its contribution is around 50 to 60%. Therefore the remaining 40% to 50% are spent in the start and turns. Since starts and turns have such influence on final time, one might consider dedicating a good share of time practicing those race segments. I am wondering if one coach dedicates (or should s/he dedicate?) so much time practicing starts and turns. It is not an easy call. Nevertheless, coaches should consider spending an appropriate amount of time practicing starts and turns according to its contribution to final race time.

Should Coaches Spend More Time on Starts and Turns?

During starts and turns the swimmers have a fixed support to create propulsion (block and wall, respectively). From a scientific point of view the analysis of both segments should be based mainly on rigid body mechanics. While during clean swimming and finish, the swimmer has to find other ways to propeller himself as water is a fluid. Hence, the main framework to assess these two segments must be the fluid mechanics. In this sense, to improve starts and turns a lot can be done during Strength and Conditioning sessions. The start is pretty much a squat jump and the turn a counter-movement “jump” (Garrido et al., 2010). Hence, lower body strength and conditioning such as plyometrics training should be considered. An interesting paper about this topic was published recently and may be read for a deeper insight (Bishop et al., 2013) [see Plyometrics and Its Effect on Swimming]. Last but not least, to highlight that obviously technique also plays a part in all these and should not be disregard.

Table 2. Partial contribution (in %) of start plus turns (i.e., fixed support) and clean swimming plus finish (i.e., fluid support) to final time.

References

  1. Bishop C, Cree J, Read P, Chavda S, Edwards M, Turner A (2013). Strength and conditioning for sprint swimming. Strength & Cond J 35: 1-6
  2. Cossor JM, Mason BR (2001). Swim start performances at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In Blackwell J, Sanders R (eds). Proceedings of XIX Symposium on Biomechanics in Sport (pp. 70-74). University of San Francisco. San Francisco
  3. Garrido N, Marinho DA, Reis VM, van den Tillaar R, Costa AM, Silva AJ, Marques MC (2010). Does combined dry land strength and aerobic training inhibit performance of young competitive swimmers. J Sport Sci Med 9: 300-310
  4. Mason BR, Cossor JM (2001). Swim turn performances at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In Blackwell J, Sanders R (eds). Proceedings of XIX Symposium on Biomechanics in Sport (pp. 65-69). University of San Francisco. San Francisco

Written by Tiago M. Barbosa earned a PhD degree in Sport Sciences and holds a position at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Race Analysis and Video of Caleb Dressel 18.94

It has been a while since we've done a race analysis [other than the superb analysis by Tiago Barbosa: Ruta Meilutyte's 100 SCM World Record Race Analysis]. First and foremost, this analysis was based off a streaming video, since the race is not downloaded yet [as far as I know], so some hand times were used [which  has inherent errors]. Also, Cielo had the use of the hi-tech suits, compared to Dressel who was able to use the Omega Block [Omega Track Start Tragedies Part I].

For new comers to the website, we have done numerous race and world record analyses, which are purely meant for enjoyment and discussion. This analysis will compare the amazing 18.94 sec swim by Caleb Dressel and compare it to Cesar Cielo's 18.47 [see here for complete 50-free world record analysis].

History of 50 - Yard Men Freestyle Record

The short course yard 50 free has obviously been dominated by races in the United States (mainly because other countries don't swim yards unless their athletes attend college in the US). In 1987, Tom Jager went a 19.05 which stood alone for 15 years. This coveted swim was tied by Anthony Ervin in 2002 and broken by Fred Bousquet in 2005 when Fred smashed the 19 second barrier with a 18.47. Since Bousquet opened the flood gate in 2005, many have broke the 19 second barrier, but none under the age of 18. From 2005-2010 the record progressed 3.05%, from 1987-2005 the record progressed 0%. Like the LCM record Cesar Cielo owns this crown with a 18.47 from leading off the Auburn Tigers 200 free relay in the 2008 the NCAA championships. In this memorable race, he broke the 15 meter mark in 4.97 seconds and was moving at 3.02 m/s. His average distance per stroke over the two 25s was 1.33 meters/stroke and his stroke rate was 1.94 strokes/second (.5196 seconds/stroke).

Caleb Dressel SCY - 18.94 seconds and Cesar Cielo 18.47 Comparison 

 
Unlike Cielo, Dressel uses more underwater compared past 50-yard champions. This is

Hard to see, but the below shot of Cielo was much further from 15-m.
likely the wave as the future, as underwater dolphin or double-leg kicking is believed to be faster than surfacing swimming [see Friday Interview: Ryan Atkinson Breaks Down Dolphin Kicking]. Dressel went approximately one second longer underwater than Cielo, but at the 15-m mark he was approximately 0.15-sec slower than Cielo. Dressel took only 2 strokes to the 15-m mark and only 9 strokes for the first 25-yard, one stroke less than Cielo for the first lap. This decreased stroke count can be attributed to the extended dolphin kicks off the start. Dressel still had a higher stroke rate and lower distance per stroke than Cielo on the first lap, 1.92 strokes/sec and 1.80 strokes/sec respectively. Stroke length is estimated for Dressel at 1.22 m/stroke compared to 1.43 m/stroke past the first 15-m for Cielo. 
On the second 25, Dressel also went much further underwater, approximately 0.6 seconds longer. Yet, Cielo and Dressel both took 7 strokes to the first 15-m. Into the wall, Dressel took one more stroke after the 15-m on the second lap (8 strokes vs. 7 strokes). On this lap, Dressel's stroke rate was 0.28 strokes/second faster than Cielo (2.32 vs. 2.05). The distance per stroke was also much shorter for Dressel, 1.07 m/stroke compared to 1.23 m/stroke. 

Caleb Dressel SCY 18.94 Analysis

Once again, an amazing swim for young Caleb. With the longer underwater kicking, he is a part of the new generation taking into advantage the use of this faster form of swimming. Yet, there is still a bit of work, specifically improving distance per stroke, which may simply come with improving in-water strength and biomechanics. Can't wait to see what the future holds for this talented young man!


G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, Swimming Science, Swimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Ruta Meilutyte's 100 SCM World Record Race Analysis

On the 12th October 2013 Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) raced the SCS 100m breaststroke at the FINA World Cup (Moscow leg). She clocked 1:02.36, smashing Rebecca Soni (US) world record. This can be used to showcase how to do race analysis with affordable tools and gather some insight about a swimmer´s performance.

The analysis includes the breakdown of the race in three main components (Jesus et al., 2011): (i) start; (ii) clean swimming; (iii) turns. Whenever possible or suitable it should be analyzed as well the finishing. Each component will include several items. Depending from the competitive level of the swimmer, his goals, what has been practice during training, etc. we can include items to the tiniest detail.

Data were collected from two sources: (i) official race times and; (ii) kinematic analysis. Reaction time, split times and final time were retrieved from a database (www.omegatiming.com). Remaining variables were calculated after downloading the video of the race from a website and import it to a motion analysis tool (Kinovea, v.0.8.15, Bordeaux, France) [see Underwater Video Analysis Software]. The analysis was done having Ruta´s head as main reference (Arellano, 2000).

I have to warn that the most challenging part is that the analysis was carried out from a TV broadcast. So, some parameters are not available and the accuracy of others might be moderate. Even so this is a good way to explain how to do race analysis. Please just keep in mind that, e.g., during the turns the broadcaster shows the glide and underwater kick of the swimmer in lane 8. Therefore I am not in conditions to assess Ruta´s water break during two turns or even the clean speed during the first 25m. Unfortunately this is not an HD movie and sometimes images are a little bit blurry. Last but not least, she races in lane 3, which is on the top of the screen, having between her and the camera several other swimmers. It is well known that kinematic analysis is very sensitive to these issues (Alard, 1995). But if you are on the spot, recording your swimmers with a video camera, you can avoid all these and get very accurate data.

The following video presents the race analysis with the motion analysis software. Table 1 showcases how to design a basic report. During a debriefing session both video and report can be delivered to a swimmer, explaining the strongest and weakest points of the race.





Table 1. Race analysis of Ruta Meilutyte´s SCS 100m breaststroke World record.

References


  1. Allard P (1995). Three-dimensional analysis of human movement. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  2. Arellano R (2000). Evaluating the technical race components during the training season. In: Sander RH, Hong Y (eds). Proceedings of XVIII International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports, pp. 15-22. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  3. Jesus S, Costa MJ, Marinho DA, Garrido ND, Silva AJ, Barbosa TM (2011). 13th FINA World Championship finals: stroke kinematics and race times according to performance, gender and event. In: Vilas-Boas JP, Machado L, Wangdo W, Veloso AP (eds). Biomechanics in Sports 29, pp. 275-278. Porto: Portuguese Journal of Sport Sciences.
Tiago M. Barbosa earned a PhD degree in Sport Sciences and holds a position at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore