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Data Source: Zamparo P, Bonifazi M (2013). Bioenergetics of cycling sports activities in water.

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

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Stat Sunday: 200 IM Comparison

First off, it was great to see some WR's go down without the high-tech suits!  Hopefully this will remove the mental block, allowing athlete's to realize they can go faster than they went with the high-tech suits.  I've done a WR analysis: Men's 200 IM and I still feel the 200 IM LCM WR is the most impressive.  This analysis will take a short look between Phelps and Lochte.

Lochte: 24.89 53.48 1:26.51 1:54.00
                      28.59  33.03   27.49

Phelps: 24.83  53.67 1:26.80 1:54.16
                       28.84 33.13   27.36

It is easy to look at the race and say Lochte had a better butterfly and breast leg, leading him to victory.  However, what was better and faster?  My analysis showed a nearly identical race, with Lochte having a slightly better start and first 25, but Phelps building better into the finish.  Lochte and Phelps taking the same number of strokes in the butterfly. Off the first wall was Lochte's largest advantage, spending 1.5 seconds longer underwater which allowed him to keep his stroke number equal to Phelps, but use a faster stroke rate. The breast was quite similar, but once again Lochte had a slightly higher stroke rate, helping him slightly extend his lead. On the last 50, Lochte once again gained room off the wall and was out splitting Phelps at the 25, but Lochte's higher stroke rate or longer duration under water potentially lead to him velocity to slow and finish with a long extension.

This is nitpicking differneces, but the Lochte's superior walls and stroke rate allowed him to hold off Phelps', but if Lochte can't rest on this win, Phelps' and Bowman and great strategist who will be ready to duel again next year, luckily Lochte is oblivious to most of society and will be able to stick to his strategy.  Can't wait for the next race.


Past Decade of Women's NCAA Results

Talk about an exciting finish to the women's NCAA championships. It is great a see a team not predicted to swim to bring home the title. Anyway, great swimming and thank you for one of the closest NCAA meets of all time. However, how do the numbers compare to last year or the year before? Once hi-tech suits were banned the theme around great swimmers was times do not matter it is all about getting your hand on the wall first, but what do the numbers say?

From 2001 (excluding 2004 due to short course meters) to 2008 the average percent improvement (deemed from the composite difference of the 1st and 9th place finisher plus the 8th and 16th place qualifier) .33%. This is a fairly minimal increase from year to year, however these improvement is a bit top heavy since 2007-2009 has improved an average of .78% per year. Consequently, 2001-2006 improved a merely .25%. More notably, from 2008-2009 an improvement greater than 1% occurred. An improvement greater than 1% is more than .5 seconds a 100! The .33% improvement came to a screeching halt over the weekend with a decrease in overall time from 2009 at an average of .59%. Surprisingly, breaststroke was the event with the largest decrease in time (.77%). All of the other strokes saw similar depreciations around .57%. The 50 free saw the greatest decrease at 1.27%, in part due to the first place finisher almost 3% behind Lara Jackson's time from the previous year. The 100 , 200 distance races, and relays were roughly .6% faster in 2009.

A decrease of improvement over half a percent is unheard of in the past decade of swimming, but was this discrepancy due to a slow year or an overzealous group in 2009. In comparing 2010 to 2008, the percent of improvement is .55%. This amount of improvement is closer to the .78% improvement since 2007 and greater than the .33% average since 2001. This statistic makes the case 2009 was an outlier in the data points. The case of this outlier will never be known, but my bet (and the opinions of many message board readers) is on the hi-tech suits, more to come on this following the men's NCAA meet.


Women NCAA Qualifiers pt. 2

Women’s NCAA is well around the corner. Unlike every website that is predicting the champion of each race or meet, I am still analyzing percent changes from years before. On Sunday, I analyzed the 2010 automatic qualifying times from last year compared to the 2010 qualifiers (http://www.swimmingscience.net/2010/03/differences-between-2009-and-2010-ncaa.html) and found the 2009 qualifiers were .68% faster. The question remains (at least my question), was this due to an extraordinarily fast 2009 season or a drop this past year. Well, luckily enough for me I received the psych sheets for NCAA women’s though the 2006 season.

2006-2007 Comparison

In 2007, Kara Lynn Joyce was a senior dominating the sprint freestyle races, Elaine Breeden was a freshman and swimmers were freezing in Minneapolis Minnesota. The 2007 season was .32% faster than 2006 most notably seen in the first place finishers who were .44% faster than the previous year. Butterfly events were .60% faster than 2006, opposing breaststroke were practically equal between both years. Races of 50 yards (solely the 50 free) were .19% faster, 100 yards .34% faster and 200 yards .32% faster.

2007-2008 Comparison

The year of 2008 had a large improvement from Kara Lynn Joyce’s final year. Elaine Breeden was a year older, Rebecca Soni broke through, and the ladies open the new Ohio State McCorkle aquatic pavilion. 2008 was .81% faster than 2007, most notably seen in the breaststroke (1.3%) and backstroke events (1.2%). The 50 free was .32% faster, 100s were .86% faster and 200s showed the most improvement at .96%. The largest improvement was noticed in swimmers at the 8th-16th position.

2008-2009 Comparison

College Station saw the fastest NCAA qualifiers of all time in 2009 and it wasn’t even close. The 2009 qualifiers blew the doors off of 2008, Lara Jackson’s 21.33, Gemma Spofforth’s 1:48.34, etc. Overall these qualifers were 1.32% faster from the 1st qualifier to the 32nd qualifier. The largest improvement was seen in the backstroke events (2.0%). The 50 free was 1.41% faster, 100s were 1.49% faster and 200s 1.54% faster.

2009-2010 Comparison


2008-2010 Comparison

I know what you’re thinking 2008 and 2010 are not consecutive years, but lets take a look if 2009 did not happen. The 2010 NCAA qualifiers were .66% faster than 2008, which is around the average of improvement from years other than 2009 which is .57%. Once again, this is a small sample and the factors for this change are vast, but it appears 2009 is an outlier. Was this from the suits? Was this due to faster swimmers? Were these qualifiers faster since they all had to swim their best (tapered) to reach NCAAs? We will not be able to answer all of those questions, but the results from this weekend should clear some of the smoke. Following the results from this weekend, I will be comparing the percent of improvement in the results from the previous decade. Good luck swim fast girls!


Differences Between 2009 and 2010 NCAA Qualifiers

NCAA is around the corner and today I will discuss the time differences between the 2010 and 2009 NCAA qualifying times. I was going to analyze the NCAA qualifiers from years before 2009, but I could only find 2007, 2005...so if anyone can fill in the gaps for me, post a link to psych sheets from previous years (it burns me that this information is not readily available on the web...come on swimming!). Anyway, here are the results:

From the previous year, the composite difference in all the freestyle events is .81% slower. This is surprising since the 50 free shows the biggest difference from the year before (1.44%, thank your Lara Jackson). Even without Jackson's time, the 50 free is only .81% slower. 1.44% is huge for sprinters, since USA Swimming found females at the 2000 Olympic trials improved a whopping .06% from the previous year.

For women, the backstroke events improved the most (1.05%). This large difference was due to the 200 back showing a decrease of 1.2%. Vast improvements were in the fastest swimmers, the 1st place qualifier was 2.68% faster and the 8th place qualifier was 1.36% faster. In the 100 back, the swimmers were .9% slower than the year before and the largest difference was 8th place at 1.5%.

The stroke with least improvement was...breaststroke (what suspense), .74%. These results are highly skewed due to Rebecca Soni's times were 1.63% faster in the 100 and 2.27% faster in the 200. Without Soni's times, the events are .34% slower than the year before.

The seconds biggest difference was seen in the butterfly events. Once again, the highest difference in the 200 fly was the first place qualifier 2.54% slower than 2009. Without the top 200 fly qualifier the event was a mere .52% in 2009.

All the events combined (relays included) 2009 NCAA women qualifiers were .68% faster. Studies by Costill et al. (thank you Anonymous) determined collegiate swimmers improve .8% each year, but it is hard to directly correlate these two pieces of data. Costill looked at the average collegiate swimmer, not the top times from year to year. In his results, which I can not get full access, likely included every swimmer on the team, which could include swimmers like Scott Usher who improved 6.5% in the 100 breast through his collegiate career (1.63% per year). On the other hand, in Costill's study the swimmers could have included swimmers who did not improve over their four years (I doubt the coach would like to publish those results...). USA swimming, Sokolovas, found the 2000 Olympic trial swimmers improved around .57% from the year before. However, this data is a bit skewed because 2000 was the emergence of the leg suits. As I've said before, many factors are involved from time comparisons from year to year, but it is essential to look at the trends and compiling data makes this possible. If anyone has older NCAA psych sheets online, or can scan them to me it would help to look at these results as a whole, because I've started compiling the men and before 2009, they certainly did not improve .8% per year. Psych sheets can show us part of the story, the true analysis will be the final NCAA results!

How much do your swimmers improve? Do you calculate this data or think it is unnecessary?


Stats Sunday: Conference Comparison

All the conference meets are winding down which makes it is time to compare the results from last year! This comparison will look at three of the top conferences (Big 10, SEC and Pac 10). Overall, the results are slower from the previous year, which can be attributed to a variety of factors: textile suits, different swimmers, swimmers not shaving until NCAAs, etc. The true comparison of results from the year before will be done at NCAA, but the composite comparison of these three conferences gives us an idea of the impact of aforementioned factors. I am going to be throwing a lot of stats and numbers into this analysis, take it for what it is. First, lets look at the conferences one by one:

Pac 10
The Pac 10 men had the biggest drop off from the previous year, decreasing .94% and the women had a decrease of .59%. These percentages are not dramatic, but this drop equals to .20 second difference per 50 for the men and .15 second difference for the women. In men and women, the 1st place finishers (compared to 8th place qualifier, 9th place finish, and 16th place qualifier) had the biggest drop off, both around 1%. In men and women, freestyle and breaststroke had the biggest drop off (men's breast and free 1.12% different). The 100s had more than twice the drop off (1.15% in 100s and .56% in 200s). The races with the biggest differences were: the men's and women's 50 and 100 free (women's 50 free was 2.05% slower than the year before!). The race that had the most improvement was the men's 400 IM, which was 1.15% faster this year. As stated, many factors can attribute to the differences (no Lara Jackson in the women's 50 free).

Overall the SEC men and women had the biggest drop off, combing to .81% equating to .17 per 50. The biggest difference was seen in the men's first place finishers (averaging a 1% difference) and the women had the largest difference in their 9th place finisher with a .84% difference. In the SEC, backstroke had the biggest difference, a 1.33% difference and freestyle had the least difference .72%
Once again, 100s had a larger difference form the year before compared to 200s. The races with the largest difference were women and men's 200 back, and men's 50 free. The men's 50 free had the largest drop off, but the women's 1650 had the most improvement from 2009.

Big 10
The Big 10 conference had the smallest difference from the year before, .37% combined for men and women. This difference equals .11 seconds per 50, the least among the three conferences analysed. The 9th place finishers had a the largest drop off compared to 1st place finishers, 8th and 16th qualifiers. This conference had a .46% difference in butterfly and .20% in the rest of the strokes. Surprisingly, the women's freestyle events were faster in 2010 than 2009, only by .02%, but still a first! Once again the 100s showed a bigger decrease than the 200s. The men's and women's 100 fly had the largest drop off from 2009 with the men's 100 free and women's 200 breast not far behind.

Overall a few generalities can be made from this small sample size:
  • The shorter the race, the larger percent difference from 2009.
  • A larger sample size is needed to see a trend in the different strokes, from these results the differences from largest to smallest were: fly, free, breast, back.
  • Men and women had similar drop offs from the previous year.
In my opinion, most of these differences were from the suits, but a comparison from NCAA is needed to confirm this since many swimmers are not shaving until they are fully rested at NCAA.

What do you think?

Stats Sunday: Men's 100 Fly

The 100 fly is a grueling event that causes a lot of frustration to those not good at the event. There's the the “sprinter” who can swim an amazing 100 fly with no butterfly training. The “sprinter” is able to swim a 100 fly as an off event and beat most of the field. Then there's the “underwaterer(erererer...)” who like the er can demolish every one on the underwater kicks (typically a yards or short course meters swimmer), but barely get his chest out of the water for a breath. And we certainly can't forget the “closer”; the swimmer who is last at the 50 and able

to pass by the whole field in the last 15 meters (typically a long course meters swimmer). The Men’s 100 fly hit the spot light in the summer of 2008 when the Phelps (the closer) vs. Cavic (the sprinter) battle began. The rivalry hit its peak during the world championships with some friendly banter being exchanged with one another. Lets take a look at the history of the event.
An American was the first swimmer to break the 1:00 barrier in the LCM 100 fly, his name was Lance Larson. Lance held the record for two years until passing the torch to three-time Olympian Luis Nicoloa of Argentina. Next was the reign of Mark Spitz, this 9-time mustache growing Olympic gold medalist (possibly he could have won more if he didn’t retire at 22) held the title for 10 consecutive years (’67-’77).His long standing record was broke by Mike Bottom’s brother, Joe Bottom. Following Bottom’s record the record was exchanged by a group of swimmers none who held the record for longer than 2 years until Pablo Morales stepped to the

scene. Morales’ time of 52.84 stood for 10 years until the great “underwatererererer”, Russian Pankratov, took the crown. Following Pankratov Australian Klim held the record and broke the 52 second barrier in 1999. This record stood until 2003 World Championships in Barceloa where three consecutive swimmers (Serdinov, Phelps, and Crocker) broke the title with Crocker (sprinter) capping off the record breaking with a 50.98. Crocker held the record until 2009 when the Cavic vs. Phelps extravaganza began and the record is currently held by Phelps with a historic time of 49.82. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaR2lPdssZc
Serdinov the shortest WR holder
The SCM record history is not as rich but many familiar faces have held the crown. In 1997, Pankratov held the title with a time of 51.78. Michael Klim succeeded him once again and held the title for 2 years (with a short break by James Hickman). Sweeden’s Lars Frölander was the next world record holder, Lars was a five time Olympian who swam for SMU from ’96-’98. Following Lars, Thomas Rupprath of Germany held the title until the Serbian Michael Cavic took

the crown in 2003. Crocker took the title in less than a year from Cavic and was the first under 50 seconds, clocking a top time of 49.07 in 2004. This record stood for 5 years until Russian Evgeny Korotyshki (closer) n smashed the record with a 48.48 which can be seen here:

Q: Who is Kortyshki? A: The best looking Swimmer

Short course yards is the shortest of the butterfly events with the shortest history (that I have, anyone have a link to a list of NCAA champions and times?). Ian Crocker the Texas guitar playing flyer held the crown in this event from 2004-2007 being the first to break the 45 second barrier. Venezuelan Albert Subritas “underwaterererer” took down Crocker’s mark with the second fastest time of 44.57 in 2007. Ohioan Austin Staab “sprinter” broke this mark in 2009 with a time pressing the 44 second barrier, 44.18. The second race in the video:

Race Analysis
Lets start with breakout times and 15 meter times. Staab averages the longest time underwater, 5.8 seconds which is nearly a second longer than Phelps’ (5.0 seconds) and a half of second ahead of Korotyshkin (5.4). This difference is likely due to differences in the length in these swimmers' underwater, since SCY is shorter swimmers are able to utilize their underwater kicking the most (plus Staab is a underwatererer). Breakout times are good to note, but the speed to the 15 meter mark is much more relevant. Phelps’ and Staab both average 2.38 m/s to the 15 meter mark compared to Korotyshkin’s 2.28 m/s. This .1 m/s is a large difference over 100 meters (or yards for that case), and if these velocity were carried out for 100 meters Phelps’ and Staab would demolish Korotyshkin by 2 seoncds! Surprisingly all three swimmers averaged 2.0 m/s throughout their races, which makes it a dead heat! Phelps’ and Staab had the same distance per stroke at 2.14 meters/stroke opposed to Korotyshkin who had a shorter distance per stroke, but a faster stroke rate of .96 strokes/second. Staab had the same stroke rate as Korotyshkin, but Phelps’ had a slower stroke rate of .88 strokes/second. A few interesting notes: Phelps’ took 15 more strokes than Staab over the 100 fly. Phelps' also swam nearly twice as long as Staab, I'm not talking underwatering, but pure swimming (Phelps' 39 seconds, Staab 20 seconds). Even though Phelps’ is known to be a great closer, Staab and Korotyshkin have a faster velocity over the last 10 meters on the last lap (most likely due to the duration of the race, but an interesting note none the less).

Time Conversions
The Swimming World time converter does not give much love to Staab’s record. Swimming World puts Staab’s record at 50.90 LCM and 49.31 SCM. Korotyshkin’s times convert to 49.07 LCM and 43.44 SCY. Lastly, Phelps’ record converts to 49.22 SCM and 43.24 SCY. The way I look at this is, Swimming World puts Korotyshkin’s and Phelps’ record at the same level and Staab’s record a bit lower.

Most Impressive 100 Fly World Record
All of these records are less than a year old and swam in high-tech suits, therefore this variable

is irrelevant (thank you). Korotyshkin’s record has the largest amount of time between him and the next fastest swimmer (.59 seconds) and is the only swimmer under 49 seconds SCM. However, the fact that Phelps’ has the same overall velocity as Staab and Korotyshkin in LCM and is tied for the fastest average 15 m velocity I am convinced Phelps’ 100 LCM fly is the most impressive. Moreover, this record was an instant classic great battle between Phelps’ and Cavic and most swimmers do not know who Korotyshkin is! There is the history of the event and an analysis of the current records, time will tell the future of the 100 fly to see if any race can match the Cavic vs. Phelps' battles.

What do you all think? Vote on the Poll!
Pretty Accurate...

Stats Sunday: 2009 and 2010 SEC Comparison

Conference championships is under way and it is an opportunity to see some fast swimming again! I am excited to still see records fall (Mark Dylla 200 fly, Micah Lawrence 100 breast, etc.) However, the scene is a bit different from last year, possibly shaving parties again...who knows. The hot topic all year was how will the ban of the high-tech polyurethane, water repelling, shark skinned, hydroturbulent, self-repelling suits differ the results. At quick glance, the results do not look much different from the year before, but in 29 of 36 races (men and women) at the SEC championships were slower than the previous year. Also, 24 out of 31 9th place finishers (excluding relays) were slower than the year before. What about the 16th finisher, 23 out of 31 times was slower than 2009 results. Overall the composite difference of the 1st, 8th, 9th and 16th finishers were .81% slower than the year before .81% is not extreme, but it is .2 slower in a 50,.4 slower in a 100, .8 slower in a 200 and so-on. More data needs to be compiled before a definitive amount of improvement can be associated with the hi-tech suits, at least now, when someone asks me how much the suits helped I can reply...a few tenths of a second.

Stat Sunday: WR Analysis Women's 100 Breast

The women’s 100 breast is a star studded American record holder event. All three of the world records are held by three separate American ladies. Here is a history of the event.

Long Couse Meters:
In the development of the 100 breast, there was an exchange between countries with a steroid history and the United States (well I don’t consider the US a country with a steroid history…who knows!). The East Germans were dominate, holding the world record between 1958-1964. In 1964, an American, Claudia Kolb, held the record for two short months until another steroid ridden country regained the title. The Soviet Union held the title for a few years until the Americans took the title again. American Catie Ball held the title for 6 years and broke the record four times around the 1:14 mark. Following the American reign, the steroid countries exchanged the record for 20 years with Silke Hörner having the title for the longest period, 7 years, with a time of 1:07.91. This was the end of the steroid era (I’m not counting AdvoCare) and the Australian Samantha Riley inched the 20 year hold by Hörner with a time of 1:07.69. Republic of South African Penny Heynes broke Riley’s record and held the title for 7 years and broke her own record multiple times. Next, Leisel Jones came on the scene with new hi-tech suits she broke the record with a time of 1:06.37. After this, Jones, Hardy and Soni exchanged the title a few times and the current world record is held by Jessica Hardy set in August of 2009 at the U.S. Open in Federal Way with a time of 1:04.45 (watch here: http://www.swimnetwork.com/Events/Meets/2009/August/US-Open.aspx).
During Hardy’s WR race, she had an average breakout time of 5.64 seconds, velocity of 1.5 m/s, distance per stroke of 1.68 meters/stroke and stroke rate of 2.41 strokes per second (.414 seconds/stroke).

Short Course Yards:
The women’s 100 breast short course meters, is a bit harder to find good history... The first lady under the 1:00 minute barrier was Beata Kaszuba when she went a 59.71 in 1995. Kristy Kowal went a blazing 59.05 in 1998. Following Kowal’s record Tara Kirk had a tear of record breaking years at Stanford. She currently holds the record with a 57.77 which she set in 2006. No video is available for this race.

Short Course Meters:
Samantha Riley held the world record in 1996 with a time of 1:05.70. This record stood for 7 years until Emma Igelstrom from Sweden took the crown with a time of 1:05.11. Tara Kirk once again took the title in 2004 and held the title until the next round of hi-tech suits. Tthe record is currently held by Rebecca Soni with a time of 1:02.70 and can be viewed here: http://www.swimnetwork.com/Events/Meets/2009/December/Duel-in-the-Pool.aspx. Soni had an average breakout time of 4.9 seconds, velocity of 1.6 m/s, distance per stroke of 1.43 meters/stroke and a stroke rate of .955 strokes per second (1.04 seconds/stroke).

I have compared Soni and Hardy’s short course meter races once before (http://www.swimmingscience.net/2009/12/race-analysis-rebecca-soni-100-breast.html), but comparing Soni’s SCM race and Hardy’s LCM are a bit different. In Soni’s SCM race she decreases her speed 7.9% which is significantly less than Hardy’s drop off 14%! However, Hardy’s front half speed is her race strategy and allows her to take the first half of her race out fast. Hardy takes out her first 50 .2 seconds faster than Soni’s SCM race! This is unheard of, but due to their race strategies this is an instance where it can occur. Hardy has better pull-outs than Soni, but Soni has great stroke count consistency. However, even though Soni is able to hold great consistency, Hardy is able to finish the last 10 meters of her race at a velocity of 1.4 m/s which is superior to Soni’s velocity of 1.24 m/s into the finish. Both of the meters races convert to times of 56 low in short course yards. Kirk's race converts to a 1:06 LCM and a 1:04 SCM and I am surprised it survived the high-tech suits, but it is the third most impressive. However, we're not here to tlak about the thrid most impressive, but the most impressive and that crown goes to AdvoCare ex-sponsor Jessica Hardy. Hardy has better stroke rates and distance per stroke than Soni and even though she slows down on the last 50, the fact that she still finished the last 10 meters with a higher velocity than Soni is amazing. Lastly, who doesn't like a comeback?

What do you think?

Stat Sunday: WR analysis Men's 50 free

The men's 50 free is one of the most popular events in the sport of swimming. This drag race is about 20 seconds for elite male swimmers and is the closest thing to a pure anaerobic event in the sport.

The long course meter 50 free was dominated by the United States until the turn of the century. From Joseph Bottom, Robin Leamy to Rowdy Gaines in the early 80s to the great duels between Tom Jager and Matt Biondi. Tom Jager held the record for 10 years (1990-2000) with a time of 21.81 until the famous Russian Alexander Popov broke the record with a 21.64. Popov is a legend in the sprinting community with the dominance of his record through the beginning of the high-tech suit era when the Australian Eamon Sullivan was the first to lower the world record mark in 2008. From then on, the WR has been broke 5 times most notably two swims under the unbelievable 21 second barrier. The world record improved 3.4% from 2000-2010, but only improved .78% from 1990-2000. Now the record is held by the Brazilian Cesar Cielo at a 20.91 which he set this past year. In his world record race, Cesar demolished the field and swam in open water allowing him to be to the 15 m mark 5.17 seconds a velocity of 2.9 m/s. His distance per stroke was 1.20 meters/stroke and his stroke rate was 1.578 strokes/second (.5339 seconds/stroke if you use tempo trainer).
The short course yard 50 free was also dominated by 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, 13 people have broke the 19 second barrier. 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).
A familiar name held the crown during the mid-1990s, Alexander Popov. Popov held the title from 1995-1998 until Britain's Mark Foster took a chunk of time of the race going a 21.31 in 2008. This mark stood until the high-tech suit era and is currently held by South African and world cup participant Roland Schoeman with a time of 20.30. This record progressed 3.92% from 2001 to 2009, but it progressed 1.72% from 1995-2001 as well. There is no video for Schoeman's world record.
Schoeman's race converts to a 20.91 in LCM. However, I do not feel it is in the same category of either Cielo's records. For one reason it is only .61 seconds faster than the 50 LCM record, which is unsubstaintle compared to the 1.97 difference between the 100 LCM and 100 SCM world records. Both of Cielo's records are beyond belief and I wonder how long these records will stand. Overall Cieldo's race in SCY he averaged a velocity of 2.71 meters/second compared to his LCM velocity of 2.42 meters/second. Even though his velocity is faster in SCY, the turn plays an extraordinary role which is unmeasurable. One outlandish fact is Cielo's LCM time converts to a 17.98 in SCY! Moreover, I remain dumbfounded that a swimmer (let alone two) has broke 21 seconds in the 50 meter long course. Therefore the most impressive world record is Cielo's LCM 20.91. Another reason for Cielo's most recent race being the most impressive is the difference between the 100 SCY world record and 100 LCM world record is 6.01 seconds (40.92-46.91) and the difference between the 50 LCM and 50 SCY records is only 2.44 seconds (20.91-18.47).
What do you all think?

Stat Sunday: WR Analysis Women's 400/500 Free

The women's 400 long course meter free world record history has rich heritage as great American swimmers have written the record books. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Deborah Meyer was dominant progressing the record by 8 seconds in three years (I wonder if there was a major suit debate during this progression...). Through the rest of the 70s and 80s a hodgepodge of women held the world record, notably including Shirley Babashoff and Skippy Woodhead, until the late 80s. In the late 80s the best female distance swimmer of all time rewrote the record books in 1987 and 1988 and held the crown for 18 years! If you haven't guessed I'm referring to Janet Evans and her performance at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2006, France's Laure Manaudou broke this mark, since then the WR has been exchanged between Manaudou, Jackson and the current WR holder Pellegrini. Pellegrini set the mark in Rome in a head-to-head match with Joanne Jackson where Pellegrini left victorious breaking the 4 minute barrier at 3:59.15. The race can be seen here:

The short course meters WR did not have the opportunity for Evans' to swim at her prime, but Cynthia Woodhead did and held the WR in the late 1970s. Woodhead maintained the record until the late 80s where East Germany's Strauss took the crown. After that race, the record was held for years until the hi-tech suit decade and is currently held by Great Britain's Joanne Jackson. Jackson broke this record at the British Gas Swimming Grand Prix, there is no video online (at least that I could find).

The short course yards WR is a record dominated with American stars. In the late 70s Tracy Caulkins went a jaw-dropping 4:36. Evans swam this race during her late heyday performing a top time of 4:34.39. This mark stood for nearly two decades and now two young American stars have exchanged the record. Kate Ziegler broke her own American record in December of 2007 and one day later Hoff broke that record by 2 seconds with the current record of 4:30.47. This performance was done at the North Baltimore Christmas Invitational and no video is available (I couldn't even find all her splits, I'm missing her last two 50s...anyone have them?).

Due to the lack of videos I will be referring mostly to Pellegrini's WR and the comparison will be between splits only. Pellegrini's race was artistically performed as her last 100 was only .6 seconds slower than her first 100 (take away the start and they would be identical!). Her stroke rate (SR) is consistently between 1.4-1.5 and averaged 1.44 strokes/second. Her last 15 meters distance per stroke (DPS) is around 1.16 meters/stroke. 1.16 is .16 meters/stroke greater than Steffen's 50 LCM WR. This is due to great extension, Pellegrini only stands at 5”9 (thanks Wikipedia.com), but she swims as if she was over 6'0” tall. I would attribute this to her great rotation and catch, no female gets into the catch of freestyle better the Pellegrini. On the graph that shows SR and DPS it is nice important to note the relationship between the two, as one increases the other decreases.
In comparison, Hoff and Jackson have a greater overall velocity (all in meters/second), but this is due to the advantage of more turns. Once again, the Hoff's velocities are missing her last two 50s because I couldn't find those last two splits, can anyone help me out?

As far as the most impressive race...I'm not going to build it up, Pellegrini's race is the most impressive. I agree with this youtube video, she is the one (no nipples of clitori...don't worry about the title)!
Not only did she beat Jackson in this head to head race, but she demolished her. Pellegrini's record was also the first female swimmer under 4:00, a great feat that may not be repeated for a while. The second best record out of the three analyzed....I will give to Hoff. Hoff's 4:30 was done prior to the latest round of hi-technology suits.

What do you all think? Take the anonymous poll on the left to compare what everyone thinks!

Stat Sunday: WR Analysis Men's 200 Back

The men’s 200 backstroke is a highly competitive race that has rising stars, athletes at the top of careers, and veterans holding onto their greatness. The 200 back long course meters (LCM) began with stars like the German Roland Matthes from the 1960s to early 1970s held the crown for the majority of the time with Americans, Gary Hall Sr. and Michael Stamm, holding the record for less than a month at a time. American John Naber broke the record in 1976 breaking the two minute barrier for the first time and held onto the record for 7 years. Following Naber’s reign, a few Russians held the crown. The Russian Poliansky held the record for 6 years and the Spanish backstroker Zubero held the record for 8 years until the American favorite Lenny Krazyelburg broke the record in Sydney. Since, then Peirsol and Lochte have been exchanging the record back and forth (Peirsol having it more than Lochte) with Peirsol currently holding the title at a 1:51.92 which he went in Rome. Video can be found here thanks to Dublin Cat:

The Short Course Meters world record was recently broken by Arkady Vyatchanin in the Berlin world cup. In 1991, the Spaniard Zubero went an amazing time of 1:52.51 and was held for years until the American dominance in the race. Now this young Russian is the current record holder and is a top competitor at any distance. Side note, the top ten times of all time in this event are from the past 5 months. Vyatachnin’s record swim can be found here,http://www.universalsports.com/video/assetid=61baffab-7606-4a32-8f45-eb70f9a2eebc.html#finaarena+world+cup+berlin+day (it is the second to last race).The short course world record is currently held by Ryan Lochte. Lochte currently has 5 of the top 10 all time performances in the 200 back short course yards. The record was held by Brian Retterer in 1995 with a time of 1:40.06 and held the crown until the hi-tech suit age. Ryan Lochte currently holds the record with a 1:36.81 which he broke in 2007. Unfortunately there is no video available for this race, therefore most of the comparison will be between Peirsol and Vyatchanin.

This comparison is hard to do since the 200 back long course and short course are completely different races

due to the development of underwater kicking. In the SCM race, Vyatchanin is underwater for 46% of the entire race, time wise and if I were to guess from observation he goes a further distance underwater than on top of the water. This is an greatly different than Peirsol who swims

16% of the race underwater in long course meters. Throughout the race Peirsol maintains a higher stroke rate than the long lanky Vyatchanin, but Vyatchanin counters with a longer DPS (the figures show Vyatchanin having a 0 DPS and stroke rate for lap two since the video makes does not show this part of his race).

Comparing their velocities, Peirsol has a faster middle 100, but Vyatchanin is quicker on the first and last 50,

especially on the last lap where he was swimming at .1m/s faster than Peirsol. This can also be noted in the percent decrease as Vyatchanin decreases 2.55% on the second 100 compared to Peirsol’s 3.71% and Lochte’s 3.23% decrease.

As I said earlier this is a hard race to compare considering one race is half underwater kicking and the other is only one tenth underwater kicking. However, a most impressive record must be chosen. As far as age, Lochte’s record is ancient for swimming nowadays dating all the way back to 2007. All three of the records are between .6-.9 ahead of the second fastest ever, making that area a wash. If one race must be chose, I am going with Vyatchanin’s world record. The young Russian is an up and coming star and one of the only people to hold the same distance kicking underwater fly kicks for an entire 200 and maintain his speed, one of the main reasons this is the most impressive. Moreover, his times convert to a 1:49 LCM and 1:35.1 SCY. I’d love to see this young man hop his 6’6” frame in a SCY pool and see what he can do. Unlikely, but I can still wish!

What do you all think?


Stats Sunday: Women's 50 free

The women’s 50 free is an event with a lot of history. The long course meters 50 free was a record dominated by the United States women in the early 1980s, and was held by Jill Sterkel and the timeless great, Dara Torres. In the late 1980s and 1990s the Chinese women had a hold on the record, with Jingyi Le maintaining the top time for 6 years until a young Inge De Bruijn took the title in 2000 and held on to the record for eight remarkable years. Over the past two years the record has changed hands three times and the current World Record holder is the German Britta Steffen with a time of 23.73. Over this 30 year history the 50 free time has improved a remarkable 8.4%. Britta obtained the WR in Rome of 2009 against a stacked field including three former long course world record holders. In the race, Britta gets off the start (a two footed grab start) and came up with the rest of the field. Britta was with the top of the field for the first 35 meters and held a distance per stroke (DPS) around 1 meter/stroke. She maintained the DPS for the last 15 meters and finished with an amazing stroke rate (SR) at 1.92 strokes/second which is .12 faster than Cesar Cielo’s WR when he went 20.91. As you can see in the video she finished the race with a head of steam to get her hand on the wall first.

The video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1xFkb1fIA8.
The women’s short course meter (SCM) world record does not have as rich of a history as the long course world record, but a history nonetheless. In 1987, Romanian Tamara Costache was the first female to break the 25 second barrier, 24.94. She held on to this record until the Chinese dominance in the early 1990s. In 1994, Jingly Le went a spectacular time of 24.23 and held on to the record until Therese Alshammar broke the 24 second barrier and went 23.59. This record was untouched until the end of the decade when it switched hands a few times until at World Championships in 2008 Marleen Veldhuis broke the record with a 23.25. Veldhuis broke the world record at the 2008 world championships and owned the field. Since 1987 the record has improved 7.26%. The video I found of the race cuts to the race during the second half of the first 25, so I can’t talk about her start, but from previous races, Veldhuis utilizes a track start and comes up in the front of the pack. On the second 25, Veldhuis comes up with clean water and has a DPS of 1 meter/stroke and a stroke rate of 1.86 meters/stroke over the last 15 meters. 

The video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBizwcbNMuc.
The last world record is the women’s 50 short course yards (SCY) “world record”. In 1997, Catherine Fox was the fastest in the world with a time of 22.01, just shy off the 22 second barrier. However, the sprint star of the 1990s, Inge De Bruijn, of course took care of the 22 second barrier, going a 21.88 in 1999. Inge only held this record for two years until Tammie Stone regained the record for the United States. Maritza Correia went a 21.69 in 2002 and held the record for four years, where it began changing hands more quickly. Lara Jackson currently holds the record at 21.27 as well as holding the top 5 times ever in the event. Lara Jackson broke the record at 2009 NCAA when she leads of the Arizona Wildcats’ 200 free relay, which also broke the NCAA record. Unlike the other records, Jackson utilized more underwater fly kick and stays underwater a full second longer than Steffen’s record, but they both hit the 15 meter mark about the same (hard to time due to the angles of the races, but around 5.8 seconds). Jackson has a little longer DPS, 1.2, than the other two records over the last 15 meters, at a stroke rate of 1.86 strokes/second the same as Veldhuis. Compliments of Swimming World TV, the video can be found here, it is the second relay.
Obviously, these are all great swims. Converting their swims makes a case for the two meters' world records and even though Jackson’s swim has the largest difference between her and the second fastest ever, I would not classify it as the most impressive because she has not beat these women in the top distance and she has competed in both the SCM and LCM. This leaves the most impressive between the 2008 swim of Veldhuis and the 2009 race of Steffen. As stated, these times both convert to impressive SCY times, 20.8 respectively. Even though Steffen consistently beats Veldhuis in LCM, with Veldhuis’ impressive start and speed I feel a short course race is more in her favor. Overall, I believe these races are dead even, but Veldhuis’ record is 15 months older and that is the deciding factor, making Veldhuis’ record the most impressive race.
What do you all think? Do you like the history and different style of analysis?

Stats Sunday: Men's 200 Free

This week it is time to look at the Men’s 200 freestyle world records. This event has received good publicity with the duels between Mr. Michael Phelps and Mr. Paul Bidermann, let’s break down the records.

LCM: Paul Biedermann splits: 24.23/25.89/26.18/25.70 Percent Decrease: 3.39%

SCM: Paul Biedermann splits: 23.79/25.50/25.43/24.65 Percent Decrease: 1.58%
http://www.universalsports.com/video/assetid=61baffab-7606-4a32-8f45-eb70f9a2eebc.html#finaarena+world+cup+berlin+day 3 minutes into the video

SCY: Simon Burnett splits: 21.28/23.16/23.09/23.67 Percent Decrease: 4.96%
No video available

Since there is no video available for Burnett’s race, this analysis will be mostly comprised of Biedermann’s two races. In both of Biedermann’s races he gets off the block like he gets off the block slower than my grandmother and comes up behind most of the field in both races. It is hard to pinpoint the problem with his start because the issues are diverse… However, after his start in both races he doesn’t waste time catching up. In both of his races he has a stroke rate (SR) of 1.28 his first 50, but in his SCM race his distance per stroke (DPS) is a bit longer at 1.5 compared to 1.36. On the second 50, in LCM, Biedermann holds his SR and DPS the same as the first 50, and his SCM race Biedermann begins to slow his SR to match his LCM pace. In the second 50 of Biedermann’s LCM race he had a great split, 25.89. This impressive second 50 pulls Biedmann to a 50.12 LCM which converts to 43.25 SCY compared to his SCM time which converts to a 44.16 and Burnett was out in a 44.44.

On the second 100, the SCM WR makes the move while Biedermann’s LCM WR tapers off. On the third 50, not much difference is noted between the SR and DPS, but Biedermann starts to get into a rhythm on his turns and is averaging .3 m/s faster than his LCM race which he carries on throughout the race. On the last 50, Biedermann’s LCM race begins to lose his DPS and begins losing .15 meters/stroke compared to his SCM race and to compensate for this he begins to pick up his SR by .2 strokes/second. Unfortunately, this compensation was not the best method to maintain speed as he decreases 3.39% on the second 100 compared to a minimal 1.58% decrease SCM, Burnett decreased 4.96%.

Both of Biedermann’s times are far superior to Burnett’s WR, however Burnett’s record is ancient in the swimming world and is growing white hair on its fourth anniversary. However, Burnett’s record is only .5 seconds ahead of the next fastest, Shaune Fraser, and Biedermann’s SCM race is .7 seconds faster than the next fastest, Izotov, and his LCM race is .91 faster than Phelps’ old WR. As far as time conversions, crazy fast times are presented. Time converters put Biedermann’s SCM record to a 1:29 in SCY, but his LCM WR converts to a 1:28 SCY! Obviously, these conversions are a little much and the screwy thing is that the Biedermann’s SCM WR converts to a 1:41 in LCM. Anyway, despite these conflicts there still has to be one decisive champion and today it is going to Paul Biedermann and his LCM WR!

What do you all think, which is the most impressive? Also, what is up with Biedermann’s starts and streamlines?


Stats Sunday: Most Impressive WR women's 200 Individual Medley

For the new year I will be looking at the Women's 200 Individual Medley World Records (WR). All three of these records are held by American's, Ariana Kukors holding the 200 long course meters (LCM) and Julia Smit holding both the 200 short course yards (SCY) and 200 short course meters (SCM) WR.

Julia Smit: 200 SCM IM: 2:04.60 (27.22/31.38/34.94/30.06)

Compliments of

Ariana Kukors: 200 LCM IM: 2:06.15 (27.72/31.52/37.07/29.84)

Julia Smit: 200 SCY IM: 1:52.79 (25.08/28.42/32.26/27.03)
Compliments of http://www.swimmingworld.tv

Both of these Americans are great young IM swimmers and have been improving rapidly. In Rome, Ariana Kukors shocked the world by not only breaking a WR, but demolishing it by nearly a second. Smit has been dominating the college scene and utilizes her great breaststroke speed to take over races.

Today were are going to breakdown three aspects of these races: the speed through the first ~10 meters of the races, the swimmers' distance per stroke (DPS) and their stroke rate (how many strokes their taking per second, SR). In the butterfly, Smit has superior speed to the first 10 meters by over a tenth compared to her SCY and Kukors' LCM WR. Smit also has a longer DPS by .3 meters per stroke, however Kukors counters this with a much faster stroke rate, which is nearly .2 faster than either of Smit's races. This faster SR gets Smit to a faster start and ultimately, a superior butterfly leg.

On the backstroke, all three races have similar speeds to the first 10 meters of the race. Smit holds SR at 1 stroke/second on both legs of her breaststroke and holds a DPS around 1.3. Unfortunately, Kukors' video cuts out during the backstroke and I can't analyze that portion of the race. However, Kukors once again has a superior time and if I were to guess, I'd say Kukors continues a fast SR giving her a lead at the 100.

On the breaststroke, Smit always makes a strong move. For the first time, Smit picks up her SR faster than Kukors, but more importantly she holds her DPS equal to Kukors. This combination gives her a faster split.

Like many 200 IM races, this comes down to the freestyle leg. Smit has a faster time in both her races to the first 10 meters and maintains a slightly higher DPS, but her SR is substantially slower than Kukors' (especially finishing into the wall). This is why Kukors' 200 LCM IM is the most impressive race!

A few other reasons why this is the most impressive:
  • The LCM WR has the largest margin over the second fastest time ever!
  • It converts to a 1:49.4 SCY (I know a bit ridiculous, but it's still another point in my argument).
  • Kukors' race was against tougher competition at Rome.
  • Kukors' race was on a bigger stage.
What do you think? Which do you think is the most impressive?

Next week Men's 200 Free...


Stats Sunday: Men's 100 Breast

Back again with another installment of Stats Sunday. Today the Men's 100 breast will be analyzed, a record in which the oldest time in the all time top ten comes from the 2008 Olympics. Anyway, here are the records:

Cameron Van Der Brugh: 100 SCM 55.61 (25.98/29.63)

Brenton Rickard: 100 LCM 58.58 (27.67/30.91)

Damir Dugonjic: 100 SCY 50.86 (23.45/27.41)

Lets start by looking at Van Der Brugh's swim. This South African has great speed, owning most of the 50 breast records and this race is no different. He flys to a 5.9 second 15 m split and despite his shorter turn times (~5.5 seconds), he manages to get great distance per turn (DPT, (attributed to an impressive dolphin kick) and only average 6.25 strokes per lap, which is less than Dugonjic's 6.5 strokes per lap in SCY! Van Der Brugh had a stroke rate of 1.45 seconds/stroke, showing his great DPS. However, with great speed comes great drop off and he slows 12.3% on the second 50.

Rickard's race strategy is a bit different from Van Der Brugh as he finishes with great speed. This Aussie uses his 6'4" frame to barrel through his first 50 in a 27.67, only slightly slower than Van Der Brugh who took the same race out in a 27.54. Despite being behind at the 50, Rickard picks up steam during the second 50, easily passing up Van Der Brugh, taking 20 strokes the second 50 and only decrease 10.4% in velocity. Rickard has a stroke rate of 1.22 seconds/stroke on the second 50, likely the reason behind his superior second 50.

Dugonjic, the Cal Bear is the only swimmer to break 51 seconds in SCY and did it by a margin of .14. Dugonjic has a high stroke rate throughout his race, .955 seconds/stroke. and gets out in a 23.45. During his second 50 he continues his fast stroke rate, but loses his catch slowing down 14.4%.

Overall, these records are impressive and Dugonjic breaking 51 seconds catches my eye. However, the analysis proves otherwise. He has impressive take out speed, but not as impressive as Van Der Brugh and he slows down 2% more than Van Der Brugh and 4% slower than Rickard. This leaves us between Van Der Brugh and Rickard. Rickard's swim is impressive since he beat Van Der Brugh in his WR breaking swim, but Van Der Brugh has been on fire lately and I feel SCM fits his swimming style more than LCM. Moreover, Van Der Brugh would have destroyed the top breaststroker at the duel in the pool, Mike Alexandrov, suggesting his record is more legit the other recent SCM WRs. Lastly, Van Der Brugh's time converts to unreal SCY and LCM swims. His time supposedly converts to a 57.63 LCM and a head scratching 49.83 SCY! I agree these conversions are not the best, but along with the other facts it suggests the 21 year old South African has the most impressive 100 breast WR.

What do you think?

By G. John Mullen founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, Swimming World Magazine Columnist, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Stats Sunday: Women's 200 Free

Today I will be looking at the women's 200 freestyle. At the time, the event seems to be dominated by the Italian Federica Pellegrini, but the United States is loaded with a lot of women on the cusp of unleashing an amazing 200 free. One of those ladies is the 200 SCY record holder, Dana Vollmer who swam out of her gord on a few relays at the Duel in the Pool over the week (54.3 and 50.9, 100 fly and free splits)! Anyways, here are the records:

Dana Vollmer 200 free SCY: 1:41.53 (23.93/46.92/1:15.55/1:41.53) Percent difference: 4.41%
No video

Federica Pellegrini 200 free LCM: 1:52.93 (27.34/55.60/1:24.38/1:52.98) Percent difference: 3.10%, Stroke rate: 1.56 strokes/second

Federica Pellegrini 200 free SCM: 1:51.17 (26.58/54.84/1:23.09/1:51.17) Percent Difference: 2.64%. Stroke Rate: 1.41 strokes/second

Of the three records, the two by Pellegrini are on another level because she has been dominant in this event and she doesn't have the SCY record (in my opinion) because she has never swam that distance. Now to the analysis, one interesting note from the Pellegrini videos is that she swims with a high stroke rate, especially in her LCM race. Her 1.56 strokes/second LCM is not far off the tempo Steffen swims in her 50 free LCM WR, 1.64 strokes/second. Another interesting note is that Pellegrini does not utilize underwater kicking. She is up first off the start (2.5 seconds) and turns (~2.2 seconds from her feet to head breaking the surface on most walls). This is an aspect of her swimming she can greatly improve (if she wants to, not sure if she needs it).

At the 100, both of Pellegrini's swims convert to faster splits than Vollmer's 49.62, 48.59 from her 100 LCM split and 49.14 from her 100 SCM split. The fast swimming does not stop there for Pellegrini, she is able to hold her speed better than Vollmer only slowing down 3.10% LCM and 2.65% SCM compared to Vollmer's 4.11% SCY. She is able to hold this pace because she is able to maintain her tempo throughout her race as she held ~41 strokes (20.5 cycles, whichever you prefer) per 50 in her LCM race and ~36 strokes per 50 in her SCM race. This amount of strokes is extremely high; in comparison Biedermann averaged 28 strokes per lap in his 1:39.0 SCM WR 200 free.

Time to pick which WR is the most impressive and this title goes to the 21 year old Italian star Pellegrini in the 200 LCM free. Both of Pellegrini's races convert to crazy fast times in SCY, 1:38.74 for her LCM race and 1:39.61. This top time conversion and the fact that Pellegrini is 2 seconds faster than anyone else in the event make it the most impressive and in my opinion, it was lopsided!

What do you all think? Do you think Pellegrini will stay this dominant in the event or will some young American like Knutson, Vollmer, Hoff, or Schmitt be able to close the gap?
By G. John Mullen founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, Swimming World Magazine Columnist, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.