TECHNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELITE BREASTSTROKE SWIMMERS

  • R. Sanders
  • J. Cappaert
  • D. Pease

Abstract

INTRODUCTION-There have been substantial changes in technique in breaststroke swimming following the introduction of the 'wave-action' technique. Due to continual experimentation by swimmers and coaches to find the technique that best suits each swimmer, the observable characteristics of elite swimmers vary considerably. The purpose of this study was to investigate the technique characteristics of elite breaststroke swimmers to identify and quantify aspects of technique that are common among elite swimmers and those which are variable. METHODS-Two above water and two below water cameras were used to obtain three-dimensional data from eight internationally elite breaststroke swimmers swimming in the 100m and 200m heats and finals of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The swimmers were recorded while they passed between five and ten metres fram the turning end of the pool. The time histories of angles describing the orientation of the swimmer were determined using Peak Performance Technologies three-dimensional digitising and analysis software. The amplitude and frequency of waveforms comprising the vertical undulations of the body parts and the phase relationships between them were determined by Fourier analysis RESULTS-There was considerable variability among swimmers in the time histories of angular motions and in the amplitudes and phase relationships of the waveforms comprising the vertical undulations. In the case of all swimmers the vertical undulations of the vertex of the head and shoulders resembled simple sinusoidal waveforms with a frequency equivalent to that of the stroke cycle. The vertical undulations of the hips, knees, and ankles displayed large contributions by hlgher frequency components. The realtive magnitudes of these contributions varied considerably among swimmers. CONCLUSION-It was concluded that breaststroke swimmers use different techniques to achieve top performance.