SUPPORT SCULL KINEMATICS IN ELITE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMERS

  • S.J. Hall

Abstract

Elite synchronized swimmers must be able to perform routines requiring extraordinary anaerobic capacity while appearing to move smoothly and “effortlessly.” In world competitions, the winners must not only excel technically, but artistically as well. To date there has been no systematic scientific investigation of subtle kinematic differences which may translate to differences in efficiency among elite synchronized swimmers. This study represents an initial exploratory investigation of this topic. subjects were three members of the 1992 United States Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team, including Jill Savery, ath ha lie Schneyder, and Becky Dyroen-Lancer, the current World Champion in all synchronized swimming categories. The skill chosen for analysis was the support scull, an important basic skill that is commonly used to support the performer in an inverted position with one or both legs projecting above the water. Two cameras operated at 60 Hz videotaped the subjects performing support scull in crane and double-leg positions. Three sequential stroke cycles chosen at random were digitized for each subject in both positions. The raw data were smoothed with a cubic spline function and combined into three-dimensional position coordinates using the Direct Linear Transformation algorithm. Files were generated for 22 kinematic variables of potential interest. Subjects exhibited greater vertical motion of the wrist by 5.3, 2.9, and 5.9 cm, respectively, in the double-leg as compared to the crane position. Greater wrist velocities and shorter stroke cycles were also documented for the double-leg as compared to the crane position. Dyroen-lancer maintained her forearms closer to horizontal throughout the stroke cycles in both positions than did the other two subjects, with forearm orientation ranging from 0-23º and 0-26 º for Dyroen-Lancer and 0-47 º and 0-40 º for Savery and 0-44 º and 0-43 º for Schneyder. It is possible that this difference enables Dyroen-Lancer, who is noted for appearing to perform “effortlessly,” to generate more lift force as compared to the other subjects. The results of this preliminary investigation support a need for further investigation of synchronized swimming skill biomechanics.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities