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  #1  
Old 12-01-2014
Josefish Josefish is offline
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Default Symmetric v Asymmetric stroke

Dear people,

I know TI encourage swimmers to do a symmetric stroke which for me make sense.
Though competitive swimmers usually use an asymmetryc stroke.
You may tell me that this are the sprinter swimmers, that for long distance races it's better to swim with symmetric stroke .
BUT if you see a 10 km or even 25 km open water race, like olympic games or so, you can find that most of the swimmers do asymmetric stroke. So I'm a bit confused about that.
Any comment about that ?

Thank you guys

Josefish
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2014
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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I have asked myself the same question.
Its hard to find a world record that is swum with a symetric stroke.
But imagine yourself in the position of a coach with most of your swimmers craning the head up to air during the breathtaking.
Do you want to increase this bobbing up and down in the stroke or do you want to get rid of it?
Its easy to inforce this bad habit and never get a sense of being straight and level.
So first prove that you can swim symetrical with fairly long strokes, trhan take the freedaom to lope and shorten your stroke again to find your optimal personal style.
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  #3  
Old 12-01-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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old story I've told here before, but you were not around... ;)

I have observed that sun yang performs a 4 beat kick on his breathing strokes often, and a 2 beat kick most other times (with the 6 beat kick throw in when he wants to genrate max speed).

I thought the 4 beat was an interesting approach for breathing , so I set out to emulate him.

In the process I discovered that yes...the four beat makes my breathing feel easier, so I asked myself WHY? What I discovered is that I had poor balance on my breathing and the 4 beat compensated for it, letting me push down up front a little, since I was creating counter-force in the back.

So instead of continuing to practice my world champion inspired asymmetry, I instead focused on the weakness that I had discovered and worked on that aswell. Now if I slip into a 4 beat kick unintentionally, I go back and examine my balance and correct whateveer may be going on.

Often when we see assymetries, they are flaws,or are some adaptation UNIQUE to that individuals physical makeup and effort level.

So I don't think it's valid to emulate them as if they give us permission to do so simply because they are faster than us. Use the exploration to find your weaknesses and work to improve them.

This doesn't mean that everyone's optimal stroke will be symmetrical, but I think the ability to swim symmetrically at will and target that as an ideal is a valid goal...and that allowing assymetries is a temporary maneuver to learn or explore something, or permissively allow it in a race when your efforts may be taxing your limits.

ADDED:
SO I guess the real question is can you discover why an asymmetry is present in an elites stroke, and what advantage does it give? What disadvantage does it create? Human swimmers are far from optimal even the best swimmers, so there is always always always a compromise.
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  #4  
Old 12-02-2014
Josefish Josefish is offline
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I don't know, the only thing I can notice is that when I try asymmetrical stroke, it looks like I move easily through the water. But I am not sure if I waste more energy. maybe I do. It's a bit confusing.

Josefish
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2014
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Josefish,

Quote:
... the only thing I can notice is that when I try asymmetrical stroke, it looks like I move easily through the water....
Anyone outside who confirmed? Be aware, there often large gaps between what we feel and what really happens while we are swimming. (You know Terry's old Twain's footer?)

In which way ever, felt enjoyment will not be too bad. I often think, how would it feel if inner felt enjoyment and outer visible form are the same?

Best regards,
Werner
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josefish View Post
I don't know, the only thing I can notice is that when I try asymmetrical stroke, it looks like I move easily through the water. But I am not sure if I waste more energy. maybe I do. It's a bit confusing.

Josefish
what part of your stroke are you changing?

Do a series of time trials... 400s of each style, compare pace, RPE and avg HR or something like that/
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Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #7  
Old 12-02-2014
terry terry is offline
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Default Know what to emulate -- and what NOT to emulate

Suzanne is right. Think about it this way: Do you see asymmetry among elite athletes in strokes other than freestyle? Never!

Do we see asymmetry among highly skilled athletes in any other rhythmic-repeated movement discipline? Never!

This should cause us to be very skeptical if anyone suggests asymmetry is any sort of a virtue in freestyle swimming.

Why do we see asymmetry in freestyle then? Because freestyle is the only stroke where we turn the head sideways--perpendicular to the direction choose a breathing side. Favoring one side will lead to asymmetry simply because 8% of body mass is continually turning to one side, but not the other--creating uneven forces.

Elite athletes have the talent to successfully compensate for uneven forces. The rest of us lack that ability.

I have no doubt whatsoever that--given the chance to work with an elite who displays asymmetry--I could increase their efficiency and improve their performance potential.

There is no good reason to cultivate asymmetry on purpose. Instead do everything possible to eradicate it.

Full Stop!
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2014
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josefish View Post
Though competitive swimmers usually use an asymmetryc stroke.
You may tell me that this are the sprinter swimmers, that for long distance races it's better to swim with symmetric stroke .
BUT if you see a 10 km or even 25 km open water race, like olympic games or so, you can find that most of the swimmers do asymmetric stroke. So I'm a bit confused about that.
Any comment about that ?
Competitive swimmers (to reuse your term) don't necessarily display a productive but asymmetrical stroke. However elite males often do. It's an important distinction. Already with females, you see much more symmetry (winning symmetry that is).

I wrote on that at some point, but I don't remember where. Basically, as long as you don't impair your economy (mechanical energy / metabolic energy), you're fine with Loping. However, good luck!

Yeah I do believe that most high level lopers you've seen manage to swim this way without impairing their economy. It's just that the balance between their 2 sides is very different. For a right hand side breather, you would normally expect the right hand/arm to pull much harder/more efficiently. They rest on their left hand. I know that this may sound illogical, but it is logical. Say you have 10L of oxygen used to fuel a performance, using 7L whilst stroking with your right arm and 3 whilst stroking with the left one is fine.

Main problem with Loping obviously is that you move up and down. You move up on your strong arm and down on the weak side. Therefore the equilibrium which allows an elite to be 100% optimal swimming this way is very fragile. You "MUST" fall on the weak hand and just roll over it, to compensate for the fact that you'll be pulling yourself up with the other hand.

Frankly, I don't see how I could teach this to anyone but elite contenders. Now you may be wondering "Charles, have you ever done this with an elite contender?". The answer would be yes. Not last weekend, but the one before. Context is an elite jnr triathlete with a poor distance per stroke and a great passion for superheros. He's 16yo. Naturally symmetrical, he breathes every 3, etc. Do I want to kill this? Absolutely not. But yes we have a drill together, it's "our thing", where I ask him to swim like Michael Phelps (famous Loper). My purpose is to get him on a "quest", self motivated quest for finding more feel for water. That's about the only case I can think of though. And it's extremely specific, to his personality, to what we want/need to achieve, etc. And the kid do know that ultimately, we don't want to change his stroke from symmetrical to unilateral loping. It would be ridiculous. Therefore all that is just a drill, which fits where he is in his development stage (4:45 for 400m, but with a DPS that's way too low), passionate about super heros / role games etc etc...
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2014
jafaremraf jafaremraf is offline
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by asymmetry do you mean always breathing to the same side? So what about breathing to the left for 1 length (or a distance) and then breathing to the right for a length? Is that considered ok? It's how I breathe, but only because if I try and fit 3 strokes in I run out of breath (perhaps I need to swim quicker!), although for a short distance (say 1 length) I do prefer to breath every 3rd stroke. So my compromise is to breathe on every second stroke looking towards the same side of the pool, this way I believe it would keep me balanced.
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  #10  
Old 12-03-2014
tomoy tomoy is offline
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@jafaremraf, a significant contributor to asymmetry is breathing to the same side, but aside from the breath itself, one can imagine a virtually symmetrical stroke when breathing to one side - everything else is perfectly balanced. I'd say that is a goal or ideal in general, regardless of breathing on even strokes (same side) or bilaterally on odd strokes.

More pragmatically, because sometimes you need more air than breathing on every third stroke provides, breathing one length to one side and another to the other is entirely okay.
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