Comparative Analyses of Two Methods of Backstroke Starting: Conventional and Whip


  • R. Green
  • W. Cryer
  • B. Bangerter
  • K. Lewis
  • J. Walker


Generally, when a new skill, technique, or style is introduced into a sport, the first attempt to describe the change is by the coach or athlete. The biomechanist will then make a careful review of the mechanics involved, test the principles against the given theory, propose directions for future improvements, or reject the change. This procedure often occurs in the sport of swimming. During the last decade, techniques of competitive swimming have improved, resulting in several record-producing performances by the swimmers. This improvement may be attributed, in part, to coaches, researchers, and authors like Counsilman (1977) and Maglischo (1982), Hay (1985), Kreighbaum and Barthels (1985), among others. Backstroke swimming techniques have benefited from the investiveness of coaches, swimmers, and researchers. Probably much of the credit for initiating change in technique belongs to the backstrokers of the time. Two examples are Olympic champions John Naber in 1976 with his «headabove-water spin» turn and Rick Carey in 1984 with his «whip» start. These methods of turning and starting have been adopted by many coaches and swimmers. Even though the Naber turn and the Carey whip start have gained in popularity, little research has been conducted regarding the mechanics of such techniques. For instance, one of the few studies conducted was on the backstroke turns. Benson (1979) filmed two subjects: John Naber executing his unique turn and Peter Rocca (second to Naber in the 1976 Olympics) doing his standard backstroke turn. An elementary comparative eine analysis was made. Benson determined that the Naber turn was more efficient than the standard backstroke turn. Since scientific information about the backstroke whip start is limited. this study was conducted to fill that void and to serve as a basic for further research.