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Biomechanics of Competitive Front Crawl Swimming

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Biomechanics of Competitive Front Crawl Swimming

Abstract

Essential performance-determining factors in front crawl swimming can be analysed within a biomechanical framework, in reference to the physiological basis of performance. These factors include: active drag forces, effective propulsive forces, propelling efficiency and power output. The success of a swimmer is determined by the ability to generate propulsive force, while reducing the resistance to forward motion. Although for a given competitive stroke a range of optimal stroking styles may be expected across a sample of swimmers, a common element of technique related to a high performance level is the use of complex sculling motions of the hands to generate especially lift forces. By changing the orientation of the hand the propulsive force acting on the hand is aimed successfully in the direction of motion. Furthermore, the swimming velocity (v) is related to drag (A), power input (Pi, the rate of energy liberation via the aerobic/ anaerobic metabolism), the gross efficiency (eg), propelling efficiency (ep), and power output (Po) according to: Based on the research available at present it is concluded that: (a) drag in groups of elite swimmers homogeneous with respect to swimming technique is determined by anthropometric dimensions; (b) total mechanical power output (Po) is important since improvement in performance is related to increased Po. Furthermore, it shows dramatic changes with training and possibly reflects the size of the ‘swimming engine’; (c) propelling efficiency seems to be important since it is much higher in elite swimmers (61%) than in triathletes (44%); and (d) distance per stroke gives a fairly good indication of propelling efficiency and may be used to evaluate individual progress in technical ability.
... Swimming performance is dictated by the multifactorial interplay of anthropometric, physiological, psychological, tactical, and biomechanical factors. 1,2 Of these factors, biomechanics tends to receive the most attention during a typical training session. 3 Methods for addressing swimmers' biomechanics in training range from drills (eg, closed-fist swimming, catch-up drill, the "swim golf" game) to attentional focus while swimming (eg, "distance per stroke," "long and strong") and individual coaching instructions. ...
... 3 Methods for addressing swimmers' biomechanics in training range from drills (eg, closed-fist swimming, catch-up drill, the "swim golf" game) to attentional focus while swimming (eg, "distance per stroke," "long and strong") and individual coaching instructions. 1 Previous studies have used a variety of tools to quantify swimming biomechanics, from 2-and 3-dimensional motion capture 4 and inertial measurement units 5 to computational fluid dynamics. 6 At the most fundamental level, studies of kinematics have established that long stroke lengths and high stroke rates maximize speed. ...
... Of the 4 competition strokes, we chose FC because it predominates racing and training volume. We focused on the UL because it provides upward of 85% of the propulsion in FC. 1 The secondary objective of the study was to examine the relationship between UL errors and FC swimming performance. Based on previous reliability data and correlation magnitudes, 12,14-17 we hypothesized that the UL errors would have at least moderate reliability and be moderately correlated with performance. ...
Article
Context: Swimming technique is widely believed to influence performance, but this relationship has rarely been tested objectively using a real-time poolside assessment. Objective: To determine the (1) test-retest reliability, interrater reliability, and criterion validity (live vs video) of real-time poolside assessment of upper limb (UL) errors in front crawl (FC) swimming technique and (2) the relationship between UL errors and FC swimming performance. Design: Cross-sectional reliability, validity, and correlational study. Setting: Swim team practice at a college natatorium. Participants: Thirty-nine Division III college swimmers (21 women and 18 men, age = 19 [1] y, swimming experience = 11 [3] y). Main outcome measures: Seven UL errors in FC swimming technique, many of which involved unnecessary vertical and mediolateral motions, were assessed in real time from outside the pool during swim practice. Test-retest reliability, interrater reliability, and criterion validity were calculated using Cohen kappa (κ) and weighted kappa (κw). Swimming performance was determined by the participants' best FC events relative to the conference records. The correlation between total UL errors and FC swimming performance was assessed with Pearson r. Results: Cohen κ and κw were moderate for the majority of errors, with the following ranges: 0.46 to 0.90 (test-retest), -0.01 to 1.00 (interrater), and 0.36 to 0.66 (criterion validity). There was a significant correlation between total UL errors and FC swimming performance: r(24) = -.59 (P = .001, R2 = .35). Conclusions: Reliability and validity were moderate for the majority of errors. The fewer UL errors swimmers made while practicing FC, the faster their best FC race times tended to be relative to the conference record. UL errors in FC swimming technique explained 35% of the variance in performance.
... [3][4][5][6] in the framework of determinant swimming performance factors, technique plays a central role in the training process. 7 improvement in swimming performance can be explained by an increase in propulsive force and a decrease in hydrodynamic drag, which are mainly achieved with emphasis on technique training. 7,8 according to toussaint and Beek, 7 the stroke rate (Sr) and stroke length (Sl) represent a swimmer's technical ability. ...
... 7 improvement in swimming performance can be explained by an increase in propulsive force and a decrease in hydrodynamic drag, which are mainly achieved with emphasis on technique training. 7,8 according to toussaint and Beek, 7 the stroke rate (Sr) and stroke length (Sl) represent a swimmer's technical ability. ...
... 7 improvement in swimming performance can be explained by an increase in propulsive force and a decrease in hydrodynamic drag, which are mainly achieved with emphasis on technique training. 7,8 according to toussaint and Beek, 7 the stroke rate (Sr) and stroke length (Sl) represent a swimmer's technical ability. ...
Article
BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to investigate front crawl technique and performance in children using kinematic variables in a 50-m maximum (T50) test. METHODS: Thirty-five children performed the T50, from which images were obtained of the two 25-m laps (L1 and L2) by 2 synchronized cameras and processed with Kinovea software (Kinovea Org., San Francisco, CA, USA). RESULTS: Comparisons between L1 and L2 revealed that the index of coordination (IdC: -4.4±4.4; -4.7±3.7%); stroke length (SL: 1.37±0.20; 1.39±0.32 m) and duration of entry and catch (32.1±6.7; 33.2±7.5%), pull (15.7±3.2; 16.5±3.7%), push (25.9±6.1; 26.1±6.1%) and recovery stroke phases (26.3±6.1; 24.2±6.0%) remained constant. The stroke rate (SR: 53.9±6.1; 46.8±6.7 cycles·min-1) and mean swimming speed (SS: 1.22±0.13; 1.06±0.17 m·s-1) were reduced, and the propulsive time (Tprop: 18.2±3.5, 21.3±5.5 s) increased. Significant correlations were found between performance and SL and Tprop (r=-0.72, P=0.010; and r=0.53, P=0.022, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: SR, SS and Tprop were modified during the T50 in the front crawl in children, indicating technique variation, even in a short-distance event.
... The main goal of competitive swimming is to cover a certain distance in the least possible time. Performance in swimming depends on producing propelling forces and reducing resistance to movement in the water [1]. Maintaining streamlined balance and body position is crucial in enhancing the proficiency of swimmers' performance, which depends on the strength of the core muscles [2]. ...
... The enhancement of force production resulting from core training is achieved by improving neural adaptation, leading to faster nervous system activation, improved synchronisation of motor units, increased neural recruitment patterns, and lowered neural year. The exclusion criteria were as follows: (1) any previous injury of the shoulder or back muscles that could affect the training or measurement as reported by the participant, (2) any neurological or systemic disease as reported by the participant, (3) biomechanical abnormality of the participant that could affect the training and measurements, and (4) any medication that could affect performance. At baseline, the swimmers in both groups were performing a similar regular training program as they were enrolled under the same coach. ...
... The validity and reliability of TMG has been established by measuring neuromuscular properties [28]. TMG has five outcome measures: TC, TS, TD, DM, and 1 2 TR. In this study, we used TC and DM as the key parameters because they have high reliability in representing the effect of training on muscles. ...
Article
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Background: This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of core training in the swimming performance and neuromuscular properties of young swimmers. Methods: Eighteen healthy male swimmers (age: 13 ± 2 years, height: 159.6 ± 14.5 cm, weight: 48.7 ± 12.4 kg) were recruited from the Public Authority for Sports swimming pool in Dammam and randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. The experimental group performed a six-week core-training program consisting of seven exercises (three times/week) with regular swimming training. The control group maintained its regular training. Swimming performance and neuromuscular parameters were measured pre- and post-interventions. Results: The experimental group benefitted from the intervention in terms of the 50 m swim time (-1.4 s; 95% confidence interval -2.4 to -0.5) compared with the control group. The experimental group also showed improved swimming velocity (+0.1 m.s-1), stroke rate (-2.8 cycle.min-1), stroke length (+0.2 m.cycle-1), stroke index (+0.4 m2·s-1), total strokes (-2.9 strokes), and contraction time for erector spinae (ES; -1.5 ms), latissimus dorsi (LD; -7 ms), and external obliques (EO; -1.9 ms). Maximal displacement ES (DM-ES) (+3.3 mm), LD (0.5 mm), and EO (+2.2 mm) were compared with the baseline values for the experimental group, and TC-ES (5.8 ms), LD (3.7 ms), EO (2.5 ms), DM-ES (0.2 mm), LD (-4.1 mm), and EO (-1.0 mm) were compared with the baseline values for the control group. The intergroup comparison was statistically significant (p < 0.05; DM-ES p > 0.05). Conclusion: The results indicate that a six-week core-training program with regular swimming training improved the neuromuscular properties and the 50 m freestyle swim performance of the experimental group compared with the control group.
... Yüzücülerin başarısı, ileri hareket ederken karşı direnci azaltıp itici kuvvetler üretme kabiliyeti ile belirlenir (Toussaint ve Beek 1992;Pendergast ve ark. 2005). ...
... 2003). Özellikle serbest stil yüzmede, itme kuvvetinin %85'inden fazlası kollardan elde edilir (Toussaint ve Beek, 1992). ...
... Bunun olası bir açıklaması yüzmenin doğasında olabilir; dalgalanma elemanına karşı uygulanan kuvvetler, insan vücudunun duruşu itmeye karşı en önemli vektördür. Böylece yüzme performansı, sporcuların su sürtünmesini veya sürüklenmesini azaltırken ileri hareket üretme kabiliyeti tarafından belirlenir (Toussaint ve Hollander, 1994;Toussaint ve Beek, 1992). ...
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In this study, literature information under the headings such as individual and anthropometric characteristics and physiological demands of athletes in swimming, muscle fibers and biochemistry, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, warm-up and training subjects were evaluated. The aim of this study is to compile information that will contribute to the field and to interpret the literature information that can help scientific studies in the field. For this purpose, in order to examine the studies in the field of exercise and physiology in swimming; Google Scholar, DergiPark, Pub Med and Web of Science databases were used. During the search, 3 different keywords were used for national and international databases and the articles that were open to access were evaluated. Considering the studies examined, it has been determined that the studies that positively affect the performance in swimming branch mostly focus on training and exercise types. In the findings of the studies, it was found that it gave positive results mostly in anthropometric characteristics, development of motoric and physiological characteristics, respiratory and strength performances. It is thought that this research will give direction to new studies to be carried out in the coming years.
... Two potential mechanisms are described in the literature through which body height could be positively related to swimming speed. First, it has been suggested that an increased body height could reduce the wave drag acting on the body (Toussaint et al., , 2000Toussaint and Beek, 1992). Second, taller swimmers were found to have larger arm spans, which in turn were found to be associated with increased stroke length and swimming performance (Grimston and Hay, 1986;Mazzilli, 2019). ...
... where ρ is the water density, A is the hand surface as projected on a plane perpendicular to the mean flow (for the drag force), v hand is the hand speed, and C D,L is the drag/lift coefficient (Toussaint and Beek, 1992;van Houwelingen et al., 2017). Since the projected hand surface area A is directly related to the forces acting on the hand, a large hand surface area seems an important anthropometric asset for competitive swimmers besides body height. ...
Article
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To date, optimal propulsion in swimming has been studied predominantly using physical or computational models of the arm and seldom during real-life swimming. In the present study we examined the contributions of selected power, technique and anthropometric measures on sprint performance during arms-only front crawl swimming. To this end, 25 male adult competitive swimmers, equipped with markers on their arms and hands, performed four 25-m sprint trials, which were recorded on video. For the fastest trial of each swimmer, we determined the average swim speed as well as two technique variables: the average stroke width and average horizontal acceleration. Each participant also swam 10-12 trials over a custom-made system for measuring active drag, the MAD system. Since the propelling efficiency is 100% while swimming over the MAD system, the power output of the swimmer is fully used to overcome the drag acting on the body. The resulting speed thus represents the ratio between power output and drag. We included this power-to-drag ratio, the power output and the drag coefficient of the fastest trial on the MAD system in the analysis. Finally, the body height and hand surface area of each swimmer were determined as anthropometric variables. A model selection procedure was conducted to predict the swim speed from the two technique variables, three power variables and the two anthropometric variables. The ratio between power output and the drag was the only significant predictor of the maximal swimming speed (v = 0.86·power/drag). The variations in this ratio explained 65% of the variance in swimming performance. This indicates that sprint performance in arms-only front crawl swimming is strongly associated with the power-to-drag ratio and not with the isolated power variables and the anthropometric and technique variables selected in the present study.
... However, it is the cyclic movements of the upper limbs that are the main drive during swimming. They constitute (according to different authors): the primary propulsive force, in the kraul (Richardson, 1983;Hollander et al, 1988;Toussaint and Beek, 1992;Troszczynski, 1999;Przybylska, 2010); about 65% of the swimming speed in backstroke and butterfly (Dybinska, 2011); about 70-80% (Bartkowiak, 1984(Bartkowiak, , 1999; or almost 90% of the overall propulsion force (Pink and Tibone, 2000); and up to 80% of the propulsion force in kraulic sprint events, and up to 100% in longdistance events (Przybylska, 2010). ...
... Despite the above discussions, most researchers and trainers tend to agree with Toussaint and Beek (1992), who state that the main power generated during movement in water comes almost entirely from the work of the upper limbs and trunk. The authors (Baturo et al, 1984;Bartkowiak, 1999;Czabański et al, 2003) compare the swimmer's arm to a lever, for which the axis of rotation is the shoulder joint. ...
Article
Strength training is an important part of the preparation of competitive athletes. The subject of interest of the scientists connected of sports swimming was the level of strength ability of the competitors practising this sport and the influence of this ability on the final sports result. The purpose of this review is to describe and consider the impact of strength training of the shoulder muscles in sports swimming. A literature review was conducted in Embase, Medline PubMed, DOAJ, EBSCO and Google databases. Basic search terms are: training in sports swimming, strength tests, evaluation of muscle properties, rotation of the arm, strength measurement methods. Results: 235 results were found and 148 professional publications were selected and analysed. A thorough review of scientific publications indicates that strength parameters of the shoulder girdle muscles played a very important role on the sports performance of swimmers. The programmes combining swim training with 'on land' strength improvement or electrical stimulation are more effective than swim training alone. Significant fatigue of the rotator muscles can impair shoulder stability and result in injury. Increased strength in the internal rotation movement may result pathological conditions of the shoulder.
... Muscle power is crucial to increase swimming velocity [38] and declines earlier and more sharply than muscle strength [39], fundamentally due to an age-related slowing of contraction speed [39,40]. In the current study, 12 weeks in-water training in master swimmers resulted in significant improvements in UL power variables (MBT and HG), despite the changes in CMJ, associated to LL, were not significant. ...
Article
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Background: Master swimming is becoming increasingly popular, but research related to the training process and its effect on this population is scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of 12 weeks in-water training in stroke kinematics, dry-land power, and swimming sprints performance in master swimmers, and the relationships between these variables in this sports population. Methods: 15 healthy and physically active male master swimmers (age 32.3 ± 5.1 years, height 1.81 ± 0.04 m, body mass 77.0 ± 6.5 kg, training experience of 11 ± 4 years and average swimming training volume~2.5 km/day, 3 times a week) participated in the study. Previously and after the intervention program, entirely water-based, swimmers were tested in a dry-land environment to assess their upper and lower body limbs (UL and LL) strength through power measurements, namely countermovement jumps (CMJ), seated 3 kg medicine ball throwing (MBT) and maximal isometric strength with handgrip (HG). In-water 50 m maximal front crawl swimming test was also completed. Swimming performance at 15, 25, and 50 m (T15, T25, and T50) was determined, and the associated stroke kinematics. During the intervention program period, swimming training comprised three sessions per week (7.5 ± 0.9 km per microcycle), with low-to high-intensity aerobic and anaerobic swimming series and technical drills. Results: T25 significantly decreased after 12 weeks of training (18.82 ± 2.92 vs. 18.60 ± 2.87 sec, p = 0.02), the same was observed in the case of T50 (40.36 ± 7.54 vs. 38.32 ± 6.41 sec, p = 0.00). Changes in stroke rate (SR), stroke length (SL) and stroke index (SI) in swimming performance at 15 m were not observed, contrarily to 25 and 50 m, where SL and SI significantly increased. MBT and HG improved, but not CMJ, and improvements in T15, T25 and T50 were mostly related to kinematic proficiency improvement. Conclusions: 12 weeks of in-water training in master swimmers significantly enhance performance time in 25 and 50 m front crawl swimming. SL and SI are also improved and are the variables that most influence T15, T25 and T50 when compared to SR and dry-land power variables. Centering the training process not only in in-water tasks in master swimmers seem to be of relevant interest since age influences stroke kinematic and power variables.
... However, if the average intracycle velocity is constant over a period of time, a particular distance can be covered at an overall constant velocity. In this case, the propulsive power (developed by the athlete) and the drag power (acting on the athlete and/or the equipment) must be in balance (Gatta et al., 2016;Toussaint & Beek, 1992). In kayaking performance, this condition occurs when the paddler keeps the kayak at constant velocity for as long as possible (Borges et al., 2013;Goreham et al., 2021;Paquette et al., 2020), as it mainly happens during long-distance competitions (e.g., 1000 m) (Goreham et al., 2021;Paquette et al., 2020). ...
Article
This study aims to determine the propulsive force (Fp) and its timing of application during the paddle stroke confirming the dynamic balance between propulsive and drag powers (Pp = Pd) in kayaking performance. Ten male sub-elite paddlers participated in the study. The athletes carried out three trials of 50 m at three different velocity ranges: 2.70 - 3.00 m/ s; 3.01 - 3.50 m/s and 3.51 - 4.00 m/ s. A constant velocity during each trial was maintained and the section between 15 and 40 m of the total pool length was considered for further analysis. Data were collected using the E-kayak system provided of an instrumented paddle and 2D video analysis. It was observed that the propulsive force increases in intensity (up to 90% of the peak force) as the velocity increases. The dynamic balance between Pd and Pp was confirmed with a Bland and Altman plot (estimated bias: 0.2; LoA: 12.8 and 13.3 W). The related comparisons between the power parameters showed no significant difference (p > 0.050) in each of the considered velocity. By applying the dynamic balance theory between Pp = Pd on the data obtained from the interaction among GPS, force on the paddle and 2D video analysis, it is possible to acquire essential information (Fp, Pp) to monitor the flatwater kayaking performance.
... Differences between pre-and post-tests were noticed in SL, suggesting that both groups showed technical improvements. In fact, it is known that an improved swimming technique results in a longer SL, with this variable being more related to performance than SF [54,56,57]. Moreover, a SF minimization while increasing SL from the first to the second evaluation moment was noticed, which is a strategy used by elite swimmers to attain a more economical swimming pattern [56,58]. ...
Article
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This study investigated the effects of a coordinative in-water training. Total 26 young swimmers (16 boys) were divided in a training group (that performed two sets of 6 × 25-m front crawl, with manipulated speed and stroke frequency, two/week for eight weeks) and a control group. At the beginning and end of the training period, swimmers performed 50-m front crawl sprints recorded by seven land and six underwater Qualisys cameras. A linear mixed model regression was applied to investigate the training effects adjusted for sex. Differences between sex were registered in terms of speed, stroke length, and stroke index, highlighting that an adjustment for sex should be made in the subsequent analysis. Between moments, differences were noticed in coordinative variables (higher time spent in anti-phase and push, and lower out-of-phase and recovery for training group) and differences between sex were noticed in performance (stroke length and stroke index). Interactions (group * time) were found for the continuous relative phase, speed, stroke length, and stroke index. The sessions exerted a greater (indirect) influence on performance than on coordinative variables, thus, more sessions may be needed for a better understanding of coordinative changes since our swimmers, although not experts, are no longer in the early learning stages.
... That is, during swimming, accelerations and deaccelerations of the swimmer's body occur, leading to changes in velocity (known as intra-cyclic variation of the swim velocity) (Barbosa et al., 2010). Thus, swimmers can achieve faster swimming velocities when they are able to generate propulsion while reducing drag force (resistance to forward motion) (Toussaint and Beek, 1992). However, to generate higher propulsion, swimmers may suffer misalignments along their longitudinal axis which can lead to a larger frontal surface area and consequently to a higher drag (Morais et al., 2020c). ...
Article
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Introduction: This study aimed to: 1) determine swimming velocity based on a set of anthropometric, kinematic, and kinetic variables, and; 2) understand the stroke frequency (SF)–stroke length (SL) combinations associated with swimming velocity and propulsion in young sprint swimmers. Methods: 38 swimmers (22 males: 15.92 ± 0.75 years; 16 females: 14.99 ± 1.06 years) participated and underwent anthropometric, kinematic, and kinetic variables assessment. Exploratory associations between SL and SF on swimming velocity were explored using two two-way ANOVA (independent for males and females). Swimming velocity was determined using multilevel modeling. Results: The prediction of swimming velocity revealed a significant sex effect. Height, underwater stroke time, and mean propulsion of the dominant limb were predictors of swimming velocity. For both sexes, swimming velocity suggested that SL presented a significant variation (males: F = 8.20, p < 0.001, η ² = 0.40; females: F = 18.23, p < 0.001, η ² = 0.39), as well as SF (males: F = 38.20, p < 0.001, η ² = 0.47; females: F = 83.04, p < 0.001, η ² = 0.51). The interaction between SL and SF was significant for females (F = 8.00, p = 0.001, η ² = 0.05), but not for males (F = 1.60, p = 0.172, η ² = 0.04). The optimal SF–SL combination suggested a SF of 0.80 Hz and a SL of 2.20 m (swimming velocity: 1.75 m s ⁻¹ ), and a SF of 0.80 Hz and a SL of 1.90 m (swimming velocity: 1.56 m s ⁻¹ ) for males and females, respectively. The propulsion in both sexes showed the same trend in SL, but not in SF (i.e., non-significant variation). Also, a non-significant interaction between SL and SF was observed (males: F = 0.77, p = 0.601, η ² = 0.05; females: F = 1.48, p = 0.242, η ² = 0.05). Conclusion: Swimming velocity was predicted by an interaction of anthropometrics, kinematics, and kinetics. Faster velocities in young sprinters of both sexes were achieved by an optimal combination of SF–SL. The same trend was shown by the propulsion data. The highest propulsion was not necessarily associated with higher velocity achievement.
Article
In this study the relationship between morphological data and active drag, as measured on the MAD system (system to measure active drag), and the effect of a 2.5-year period of growth was examined in a group of children (mean age at the start of the study, 12.9 years). During this period the children showed a mean increase in height from 1.52 to 1.69 m, and in weight from 40.0 to 54.7 kg. Also the body cross-sectional area (Ap), previously reported to relate strongly to drag in a group of adult swimmers, showed an increase in size of 16%. However, the drag did not change; the mean drag force for all subjects swimming at 1.25 m•s−1 was 30.1 N (±2.37) in 1985 and 30.8 N (±4.50) in 1988. The increase in height resulted in a decrease in the Froude Number (Fr) and hence in a decrease in wave-making resistance. Furthermore, form indices derived from ship-building technology demonstrated changes that indicated a more streamlined body form. Therefore it was concluded that during growth a complex process takes pla...