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  #1  
Old 08-12-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Default Olympic observations

I've been waiting for someone to finally start this thread, and Suzanne did it, but she buried it in another thread, so I am reproducing what she wrote here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
I've ready a few things about what people are seeing in olympic swimmers. Oddly, it doesn't match what I am seeing in the same swimmers.

Some prominent things I notice...
-The incredible quiet & still ness that occurse underwater. Not that there is no movement, but there is minimal movement...just enough to get it done
-Glide/stillness out front. EVERY swimmer in every stroke enters and pauses in front...there is a moment or more of stillness. Maybe 1 swimmer in every 3-4 heats moves through this moment without pausing.
-Many cases of the slowest tempo being the fastest swimmer, especially n the breaststroke
-At least one case of a single kick fly that no one commented on in the mens 200 fly prelim, 1st heat winner
-every swimmer in every stroke swims on tracks...arms are parallel to the direction of travel with not only no crossover, but nothing even close to crossover. Arms dead parallel.
-Streamlining is prominent in every stroke as well.
-arm entries in freestyle...all of them spear and extend forward underwater, and all of them have a full extension up front accompanied by the pause. Their extension occurs under water not above. No one does not extend, but many recreationals wimmers lack the extension.
I see a lot of what Suzanne wrote, but not all. The view from above in freestyle always shows how straight the tracks are of all swimmers. Beautiful to watch. The other thing that leaps out at me is that almost all freestylers have asymmetric strokes breathing on one side. There is also some pretty complicated asymmetric kicking. I sometimes think of two paradigms for swimming freestyle: swimming like a pencil and undulating. Seems to me that almost all of the olympic freestylers are undulating and, as such, their head comes out of the water somewhat on breathing.

I did see some single kick fly, but didn't have enough time to study it. there also seem to be a lot of variations where the second kick is so mild it could be argued whether to count it or not. Last night in the 100 m fly semi-finals, Phelps was in 8th place at the first 50 and finished in second place. In situations like this, it's fun to watch film to see how he did it. Was he stroking faster than everyone else or was he stroking longer? what combination? I need to go back and look at that.

Not sure that the longest stroke in breast stroke is always the winner. King beat Efimova in the 100 m breast, and I think she has a shorter stroke, especially in the sprint at the end.

Last edited by Danny : 08-12-2016 at 07:40 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2016
sojomojo sojomojo is offline
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Cammile Adams' butterfly side-breathing had me mesmerized. It works for her, and I know others have used this side-breathing technique with success, but it looks odd and inefficient. I wonder if this is a technique that she was taught or something that evolved.
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Old 08-12-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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I am in favor of butterfly side breathing if a flatter butterfly is more efficient compared to a butterfly with so much undulation you can breathe at the frontside anyway.
The flatter buterfly seems to be more efficient, so adapt your breathing to it, just like you do in freestyle.
( i dont know anything about butterfly, but have an opinion anyway ;-))
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Old 08-12-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sojomojo View Post
Cammile Adams' butterfly side-breathing had me mesmerized. It works for her, and I know others have used this side-breathing technique with success, but it looks odd and inefficient. I wonder if this is a technique that she was taught or something that evolved.
Yeah, I saw this too. Funny, I do this in freestyle all the time, but in fly it seems like it would throw you off. Then again, in freestyle we don't really do it because the head is rolling with the shoulders, so you aren't looking over your shoulder, but in fly she is looking over her shoulder.
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Old 08-13-2016
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
I see a lot of what Suzanne wrote, but not all. The view from above in freestyle always shows how straight the tracks are of all swimmers. Beautiful to watch. The other thing that leaps out at me is that almost all freestylers have asymmetric strokes breathing on one side. There is also some pretty complicated asymmetric kicking. I sometimes think of two paradigms for swimming freestyle: swimming like a pencil and undulating. Seems to me that almost all of the olympic freestylers are undulating and, as such, their head comes out of the water somewhat on breathing.
I reviewed the freestyle heats again before replying to this, and I don't see what you're saying. It is striking how horizontal the swimmers' bodies remain, even when they are swimming at race pace. Some of their heads do come up very slightly when they are breathing, but they appear to be doing this just enough to insure that their mouths are above water. When a racer is presented with the choice of remaining efficient or getting enough air, they are going to tend to err in the direction of getting enough air. (That is, they do this if they're going to be swimming for very long. Many of the swimmers in the 50m freestyle don't breathe at all, but they can do this because (a) they've developed good lung capacity, and (b) they're so fast that they only have to hold their breaths for about 22 seconds.) It is true that, when swimming longer distances, many of them do breathe on only one side, but I suspect that this stems from needing air more frequently than they can get from bilateral breathing.

It should be noted that Katie Ledecky is one of the swimmers who deviate most from what I've just said. What is very noticeable about her stroke is that she clearly isn't swimming in pace with a tempo trainer! There is a bit of a pause in her stroke every time she takes a breath. The first thing I learned about my own stroke from the tempo trainer is that I have this same tendency. It tends to make your stroke less symmetric, and is one of a number of reasons that many of us who were originally taught to breathe on only one side have trouble achieving a symmetric stroke. There are so many subtle stroke habits that arise from breathing unilaterally for many years! Shane Eversfield noticed a couple of years ago that when I'm swimming at certain speeds, I'm actually kicking with only one foot! It's a muscle memory that was created by having spent most of my life having breathed only on my right side, and it will take lots of training to transfer the bilateral kick I can achieve at slower speeds over to my race-pace kick. And in the meantime, I can probably swim slightly faster during a race by breathing only on my right side, though if I let myself do this during my practices, I will never overcome the problem.

Katie's head also comes up a bit more when she breathes than is true for her competitors, and I suspect that she might be able to cut drag a tiny bit if she could overcome this.


Bob
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Old 08-13-2016
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sojomojo View Post
Cammile Adams' butterfly side-breathing had me mesmerized. It works for her, and I know others have used this side-breathing technique with success, but it looks odd and inefficient. I wonder if this is a technique that she was taught or something that evolved.
The theory behind side-breathing in butterfly is that it lets you stay lower when you breathe, thereby allowing your body to stay more horizontal. The downside is that it's asymmetric, which is contrary to the inherently symmetric nature of butterfly. It doesn't feel natural to me, and my own conclusion for now is that if Michael Phelps doesn't need it to be as fast as he is, probably you and I don't need it, either.


Bob
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Old 08-13-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachBobM View Post
I reviewed the freestyle heats again before replying to this, and I don't see what you're saying. It is striking how horizontal the swimmers' bodies remain, even when they are swimming at race pace. Some of their heads do come up very slightly when they are breathing, but they appear to be doing this just enough to insure that their mouths are above water. When a racer is presented with the choice of remaining efficient or getting enough air, they are going to tend to err in the direction of getting enough air. (That is, they do this if they're going to be swimming for very long. Many of the swimmers in the 50m freestyle don't breathe at all, but they can do this because (a) they've developed good lung capacity, and (b) they're so fast that they only have to hold their breaths for about 22 seconds.) It is true that, when swimming longer distances, many of them do breathe on only one side, but I suspect that this stems from needing air more frequently than they can get from bilateral breathing.

It should be noted that Katie Ledecky is one of the swimmers who deviate most from what I've just said. What is very noticeable about her stroke is that she clearly isn't swimming in pace with a tempo trainer! There is a bit of a pause in her stroke every time she takes a breath. The first thing I learned about my own stroke from the tempo trainer is that I have this same tendency. It tends to make your stroke less symmetric, and is one of a number of reasons that many of us who were originally taught to breathe on only one side have trouble achieving a symmetric stroke. There are so many subtle stroke habits that arise from breathing unilaterally for many years! Shane Eversfield noticed a couple of years ago that when I'm swimming at certain speeds, I'm actually kicking with only one foot! It's a muscle memory that was created by having spent most of my life having breathed only on my right side, and it will take lots of training to transfer the bilateral kick I can achieve at slower speeds over to my race-pace kick. And in the meantime, I can probably swim slightly faster during a race by breathing only on my right side, though if I let myself do this during my practices, I will never overcome the problem.

Katie's head also comes up a bit more when she breathes than is true for her competitors, and I suspect that she might be able to cut drag a tiny bit if she could overcome this.


Bob
Bob, Katie Ledecky was my prime example of this, so we agree on that. I went back to look more carefully at some freestyle film, and I have to revise my comments about the prevalence of asymmetry. I may have a tendency to focus on the anomalous behavior and forget about the others. I was looking for some underwater film of Sun Yang, who, in my memory, has a rather asymmetric kick pattern, but I couldn't find it. So if someone can put a link in this thread to film of Sun Yang swimming underwater, preferably in a longer distance event, that would help. here are some of my impressions, which are very subjective, because I didn't have the time to go through a lot of film.

There seems to be more men who swim asymmetrically than women. The prevalence of this increases with the distance swum. 100 m and below, the swimmers aren't even breathing on a regular pattern, and it is much easier to swim symmetrically when you aren't breathing.

There is also a distinction between not being horizontal (which probably no one at the olympic level can afford to do) and undulating. Undulating drives the front part of the body deeper at one point in the stroke so that it will bob to the surface later on, usually in order to facilitate breathing. This has nothing to do with legs dropping.

But in conclusion, most of the swimmers do seem to swim symmetrically.
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Old 08-13-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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One more comment on asymmetry. Most of the olympic swimmers seem to be one-sided breathers. I can understand that the demands of racing make this necessary, but even if you want to breath on every second stroke, it seems to me that switching sides occasionally would at least give you the opportunity to see the competition on either side. Instead I have the impression that some of the best swimmers avoid breathing on the "wrong side" even when it might be beneficial. Once you start doing this, it becomes difficult to avoid building asymmetry into your stroke over time.
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Old 08-13-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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The asymmetric or loping stroke usage depends on the distance swum.
We have talked about this loping stroke stuff in the past without any real clear conclusion.

You will find the most lopers in the 200/400 m race distance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9usmHbuYWc (only one is almost symmetric, Frazer Holmes, who happens to win)
Non in the 50 m and also less in the long distance events.
Loping seems to be a hybrid between shoulder driven sprint and hip driven long distance. fast catch on one side long slide on the other side.
The rhythm happens to fit in nicely with some undulating and more time to take a breath,and keeps some advantages of a sprint stroke.
Kathy has said it often. Once she gets into that loping rhythm, its hard to stop.
Something is mental too I think. Like a monotonous tribal dance thats makes people go on and on far longer than they would do without the music and without getting into that trance, zone or whatever you want to call it.

Some of it also could be linked to buoyance bounce rhythms that work together (or not) with strokerates.
Here the boy goes from symmetric easy pace, to loping medium pace to symmetric sprint pace again:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fC_QCMW1Xs
He can swim symmetric, but chooses not to do so for certain paces.

Last edited by Zenturtle : 08-13-2016 at 05:21 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-13-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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ZT, where do you find this stuff? I've said this before, but the eminem sound track on this thing just cracks me up! It's great and works so well with the swimming. Maybe it's because I'm from the Detroit area, although I didn't grow up in a trailer park, like the protagonist in this song. Anyway, point well taken.
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