A Primer for Swimming Coaches. Volume 2: Biomechanical Foundations

Ernest W. Maglischo, Ph.D.
Retired Swim Coach, Precott, AZ, USA

Series: Sports and Athletics Preparation, Performance, and Psychology
BISAC: SPO043000

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Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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The author’s reasons for writing this book were, first, to provide readers with some basic hydrodynamic tenants that will help them understand the reasons for the complex nature of the stroke mechanics employed by elite, competitive swimmers. The first three chapters on resistance and propulsion were included for this purpose.

The second purpose was to describe, what the author believes, is the major propulsive mechanism swimmers use: shoulder adduction. A third purpose was to comment on some of, the many “fads” and misconceptions about stroke mechanics that abound in our sport. His final reasoning behind writing this book was to speculate on some theories about stroke mechanics he developed over the years. The efficacy of these theories have yet to be validated by research, but are worth considering nonetheless. These purposes were met by the individual chapters on each competitive stroke, plus a chapter on stroke rates and stroke lengths.

This book is not a continuation of the Swimming Faster series, although it contains some of the same information. Therefore, the author purposely changed the title to reflect his purpose in writing it. It contains descriptions and summaries of the most important research on swimming hydrodynamics over the last several decades, in his opinion. The descriptions of stroke mechanics are supported by photographs of some of the greatest swimmers in the world, both past and present. They were made from in-competition videos where one can see how they really swim, as opposed to what they think they should be doing, which is what one often sees in pool demonstrations and out-of-competition instructional videos.

Preface

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1. Reducing Water Resistance

Chapter 2. A Brief History of Swimming Propulsion Theories

Chapter 3. Some Unique Facets of Swimming Propulsion

Chapter 4. The Front Crawl Stroke

Chapter 5. The Back Crawl Stroke

Chapter 6. Butterfly

Chapter 7. Breaststroke

Chapter 8. Stroke Rates and Stroke Lengths

Author's Contact Information

Index

Preface

Von Loebbecke, A., and Mittal, R. (2015). Comparative analysis of thrust production for distinct arm-pull styles in competitive swimming. ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering (in press).

Chapter 1

Bixler, B. (2005). Resistance and Propulsion. In: J.M. Stager, and D.L. Tanner, (Eds.), Swimming, (2nd. Edition, pp. 59-101). Malden, MA.: Blackwell Scientific, Ltd.
Cappaert, J. (1997). Increasing arm power: Hip rotation and its relationship to pulling pattern force during the freestyle. Coaches’ Quarterly, 4(1): 8-9. Colorado Springs, CO: U.S.A. Swimming.
Cappaert, J. and B.S. Rushall. (1994). Biomechanical Analyses of Champion Swimmers. Spring Valley, CA: Sports Science Associates. Pp. 4.1 – 4.20.
Hay, J.G. and Thayer, A.M. (1989). Flow visualization of competitive swimming techniques: The Tufts Method. Journal of Biomechanics 22(1): 11-19.
Katz, J. (1995). Race Car Aerodynamics. p. 186. Cambridge, MA: Bentley Publishers.
Keys, M. and Lyttle, A. (2010). Computational Fluid Dynamics: A tool for future swimming technique prescription. In: F. Fuss, A Subic, and S. Ujihashi, (Eds.), The impact of technology on Sport II, (pp. 587-592.). London, U.K.: Taylor and Francis.
Komogorov, S.V. and Duplishcheva, O.A. (1992) Active drag, useful mechanical power output and hydrodynamic force coefficient in different swimming strokes at maximal velocity. Journal of Biomechanics, 25(3): 311-318.
Lyttle, A., and Blanksby, B. (2000). A look at gliding and underwater kicking in the swim turn. In: ISBS 2000, Applied Proceedings of the XVIII International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports. Hong Kong.
Maglischo, E.W. (2003). Swimming Fastest. Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics.
Payton, C., Baltzopoulos, V. and Bartlett, R. (2002). Contributions of rotations of the trunk and upper extremity to hand velocity during front crawl swimming. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 18: 243-256.
Pendegast, D.R., di Prampero, P.E., Craig, A.B. Jr., and Rennie, D.W. (1978). The influence of selected biomechanical factors on the energy cost of swimming. In: B. Eriksson and B. Furberg (Eds.), Swimming Medicine IV: International Series on Sport Sciences, Vol. 6, pp. 367-378. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.
Prandtl, L. and Tietjens, O.G. (1934). Applied Hydro-And Aeromechanics. New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc.
Prichard, B. (1993). A new swim paradigm: Swimmers generate propulsion from the hips. Swimming Technique, 30(1): 17-23.
Rennie, D.W., Pendergast D.R., and di Prampero, P.E. (1975). Energetic of swimming in man. In: L. Lewillie, and J.P. Clarys, (Eds.). Swimming II. International Series on Sport Sciences. (Vol. 2, pp 97-104). Baltimore, MD.: University Park Press.
Storjnik, V., Bednarik, J. and Strombelj, B. (1999). Active and passive drag in swimming. In: K.L. Keskinen, P.V. Komi, and A.P. Hollander (Eds.). Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming VIII: Proceedings of the VIII International Symposium in Swimming. (pp. 113-117). Jyvaskyla, Finland: University of Jyvaskyla.
Toussaint, H.M. (2011). Biomechanics of drag and propulsion in front crawl swimming. In: L.Seifert, D. Chollet, and I. Mujika, (Eds.). World Book of Swimming. From Science to Performance. (pp. 3-20). New York,N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Toussaint, H.M. (1988). Mechanics and Energetics of Swimming. Amsterdam, Holland: Published privately by the author.
Troup, J.R. (1990), The effects of drafting on training and performance capacity. In: J.R. Troup (Ed.). International Center for Aquatic Research Annual: Studies by the International Center for Aquatic Research, 1989-90. (pp. 107-111). Colorado Springs, CO.: United States Swimming Press.
Vaart, A.J.M., van de Savelberg, H.H.C.M., de Groot, G., Hollander, A.P., Toussaint, H.M. and van Ingen Schneau, G.J. (1987). An estimation of active drag in front crawl swimming. Journal of Biomechanicsm, 20: 543-546.
Wilson, B. and Thorp, R. (2003). Active drag in swimming. In: J-C Chatard, (Ed.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming IX. (pp 15-20.). Saint-Etienne, France: University de Saint-Etienne.

Chapter 2

Arellano R., Gavilán A., García F. (1999). A comparison of the underwater undulatory technique in two different body positions. In: K.L. Keskinen, P.V. Komi, and A.P Hollander, (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming VIII, Proceeding of the VIII International Symposium on Bilmechanics and Medicine in Swimming. pp. 25-28. Jyvaskyla, Finland: University of Jyvaskyla.
Bixler, B. (2005). Resistance and Propulsion. In: J. M. Stager, and D.A. Tanner (Eds), Swimming (2nd. edition, p.89). Malden, MA: Blackwell Science Ltd. Bixler, B. and Schloeder, M. (1996). Computational fluid dynamics: an analytical tool for the 21st century swimming scientist. Journal of Swimming Research, (11), pp. 4-22.
Brown, R.M. and Counsilman, J.E. (1971). The role of lift in propelling swimmers. In: J.M. Cooper, (Ed.), Biomechanics (pp. 179-188). Chicago, IL: Athletic Institute.
Cappaert, J. (1992). Fluid forces on the hands and forearms. In: J.Troup, (Ed). International Center for Aquatic Research Annual: Studies by the International Center for Aquatic Research, 1991-92.( pp. 92-98) Colorado Springs, CO: United States Swimming Press.
Carlile, F. (1963). Forbes Carlile on Swimming. London, England: Pelham Books Ltd.
Colwin, C. (1992). Swimming Into the 21st Century. Champaign, IL: Leisure Press.
Colwin, C. (1984). Fluid dynamics: Vortex circulation in swimming. In: R.M. Ousley, (Ed). ASCA World Clinic Yearbook, pp, 38-46. Ft. Lauderdale, FL.: American Swimming Coaches Association.
Counsilman, J.E. (1968). The Science of Swimming. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Counsilman, J.E. (1977). Competitive Swimming Manual for Coaches and Swimmers. Bloomnigton, IN: Counsilman Co., Inc.
Counsilman, J.E. and Wasilak, J. (1982). The importance of hand speed and hand acceleration. In: R.M. Ousley, (Ed.), 1982 ASCA World Clinic Yearbook.( pp. 41-45.) Fort Lauderdale, FL: American Swimming Coaches Association.
Ferrell, M.D. (1991). An analysis of the Bernoulli lift effect as a propulsive component of swimming strokes. Masters thesis, State University of New York at Cortland.
Hollander, A.P., de Groot, G., van Ingen Schneau, R., Kahman, R., and Toussaint, H.M. (1988). Contributions of the legs to propulsion in front crawl swimming. In: B. Ungerechts, K. Wilkie, and E. Reischle, (Eds.), International Series on Sport Science, (Vol 18,: Swimming Science V, pp. 39-43.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Keys, M., and Lytttle, A. (2010). Computational fluid dynamics: A tool for future swimming technique prescription. In: F. Fuss, A. Subic, and S. Ujihashi, (Eds.). The impact of technology on Sport II. Pp. 587-592. London: Taylor and Francis.
Keys, M., Lyttle, A., Cheng, L. and Blanksby, B.A. (2010). Wave formation as a possible mechanism of propulsion in the freestyle stroke. In: P.L. Kjendlie, R.K. Stallman, and J.
Cabri, (Eds.), Proceedings of the XI International Symposium on Biomechanics in Swimming. pp. 48-49. Oslo, Norway: Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.
Riewald, S. and Bixler, B. (2001a). Computation of lift and drag forces for a model of a swimmer’s hand and arm in unsteady flow using computational fluid dynamics. Report for the USOC Sport Science and Technology Committee.
Riewald, S. and Bixler, B. (2001b). CFD Analysis of lift and drag of a swimmer’s arm and hand acceleration and deceleration. In: J. Blackwell, (Ed). XIX International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports, (pp. 117-119). San Francisco, CA.: University of San Francisco.
Schleihauf, R.E. Jr. (1979). A hydrodynamic analysis of swimming propulsion. In: J. Terauds and E. W. Bedingfield (Eds.). Swimming III: Proceedings off the Third International Symposium of Biomechanics In Swimming. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. International Series on Sport Sciences, (Vol. 8. pp 70-109). Baltimore, MD.: University Park Press.
Silvia, C.E. (1970), Manual and Lesson Plans for Basic Swimmng, Water Sports, Life Saving, Springboard Diving, and, Methods of Teaching. Springfield, MA: Published privately by the author.
Smits, A.J. (2000). A Physical Introduction to Fluid Mechanics. New York City, NY.: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Thayer, A.M. (1990). Hand pressures as predictors of resultant and propulsive hand forces in swimming. Doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa: Iowa City, IA.
Toussaint, H.M., Van den Berg, C., and Beek, W.J. (2002). Pumped-up propulsion during front crawl swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 34: 314-319.
Ungerechts, B., and Arellano, R. (2011). Hydrodynamics in Swimming. In: L. Seifert, D. Chollet, and I. Mujika (Eds.), World Book of Swimming: From Science to Performance, pp. 21-41. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 3

Cappaert, J. (1992). Fluid forces on the hands and forearms. In: J. Troup, (Ed), International Center for Aquatic Research Annual: Studies By the International Center for Aquatic Research, 1991-1992, (pp. 93-98). Colorado Springs, CO.: United States Swimming Press.
Cappaert, J. and Rushall, B. (1994) Biomechanical Analyses of Champion Swimmers. San Diego, CA.: Sports Science Associates.
Counsilman, J.E. (1968). The Science of Swimming. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.Maglischo, E.W. (1982). Swimming Faster. Palo Alto, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co.
Keys, M., Lyttle, A., Cheng, L. and Blanksby, B.A. (2010). Wave formation as a possible mechcanism of propulsion in the freestyle stroke. In: P.L Kjendlie, R.K. Stallman, and J. Cabri (Eds.), Proceedings of the XI International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming. pp. 48-49. Oslo, Norway: Norwegian School of Sports Sciences.
Maglischo, E.W. (1982). Swimming Faster. Palo Alto, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co.
Mason, B.R., Tong, Z. and Richards, R.J. (1992). Propulsion in the butterfly stroke. In: D. MacLaren, T. Reilly, and A. Lees, (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming: Swimming Science VI. pp. 81-86. New York, NY: E&FN Spon.
Riewald, S. and Bixler, B., (2001). Computation of lift and drag forces for a model of a swimmer’s hand and arm in unsteady flow using computational fluid dynamics. A report presented to the USOC Sport Science and Technology Committee. Colorado Springs, Co., USA.
Sanders, R., Cappaert, J.M. and Pease, D. (1998). Wave characteristics of Olympic breaststroke swimmers. Journal of Applied biomechanics, 14:40-51.
Sanders, R.H., Cappaert, J.M. and Devlin. (1995). Wave Characteristics of butterfly swimmers. Journal of Biomechanics, 28(1): 9-16.
Silvia, C.E. (1970), Manual and Lesson Plans for Basic Swimmng, Water Sports, Life Saving, Springboard Diving, and, Methods of Teaching. Springfield, MA: Published privately by the author.
Sokolovas, G. (2009). Digitizing the swimming stroke: Butterfly. Swimming World Magazine, Vol. 50(7): 38-40.
VanTilborgh, L., Willens, E.J. and Persyn, U. (1988). Evaluation of breaststroke propulsion and resistance-resultant impulses from film analysis. In: B. Ungerechts, K. Wilkie, and K. Reischle, (Eds.), International Series on Sports Sciences: Swimming Science V, (Vol 8., pp. 67-71. Champaign IL.: Human Kinetics.

Chapter 4

Arrellano, R. (1999). Vortices and propulsion. In: R. Sanders, and J. Linsten, Eds.), XVII International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports. pp. 53.66. Perth, Australia: Western Australia School off Biomedical and Sports Sciences. Bixler, B. (2005). Resistance and Propulsion. In: J.M. Stager, and D.A. Tanner, (Eds.), Swimming, Second Edition. pp. 51-101. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Scientific Ltd.).
Cappaert, J. (1993). Biomechanical analysis o the swimming events in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. Report, published and distributed by USA Swimmiing, Colorado Springs, CO.
Cappaert, J. (1997). Increasing arm power: Hip rotation and its relationship to pulling pattern force during the freestyle. Coaches’ Quarterly, 4(1): 8-9. Colorado Springs, CO: U.S.A. Swimming.
Counsilman, J.E. (1968) The Science of Swimming. Englewood cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Keys, M., Lyttle, A., Blanksby, B., Cheng, L., and Honda, K. (2015). Analyzing strokes using Computational Fluid Dynamics. In: S. Riewald, and S. Rodeo, (Eds). Science of Swimming Faster. pp. 123-143. Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics.
Mark, R. (11.14, 2012). Freestyle and Backstroke Rotation. USA Swimming’s Online Learning Series. Colorado Springs, CO: USA Swimming.
Payton, C., Baltzopoulos, V. and Bartlett, R. (2002). Contributions of rotations of the trunk and upper extremity to hand velocity during front crawl swimming. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 18: 243-256.
Riewald, S. and Bixler, B. (2001). Computation of lift and drag forces for a model of a swimmer’s hand and arm in unsteady flow using computational fluid dynamics . Report for the USOC Sport Science and Technology Committee.
Schleihauf, R.E., Gray, L. and and DeRose, J. (1983). Three-dimensional analysis of hand Propulsion in the sprint front crawl stroke. In: A.P. Hollander, P.A.. Huijing, and G. de Groot (Eds.), International Series on Sport Sciences: Vol. 14. Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming (pp. 173-183). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Von Loebbecke, A. and Mittal, R. (2015). Comparative analysis of thrust production for distinct arm-pull styles in competitive swimming. ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering (in press).

Chapter 5

Cappaert, J. and B. Rushall. (1994). Biomechanical Analyses of Champion Swimmers. San Diego, CA.: Sport Science Associates.
Craig, A.B. Jr. and D.R. Pendergast. (1979). Relationship of stroke rate, distance per stroke, and velocity in competitive swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports , 11:278-283.
Craig, A.B. Jr., Skehan, P.L., Pawelczyk, J.A. and Boomer W.L. (1985). Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke during elite swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 17(6): 625-634.
Maglischo, E.W. (2003). Swimming Fastest. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Mark, R. (11.14.2012). Freestyle and Backstroke Rotation. USA Swimming’s Online Learning Series. Colorado Springs, CO: USA Swimming.
Schleihauf. R.E., Higgins, J. Hinrichs, R., Luedtke, D., Maglischo, C.W., Maglischo, E.W., and Thayer, A. (1984). Biomechanics of swimming propulsion. In: T. Welsh, (Ed.). ASCA World Clinic Yearbook. pp. 19-24. Fort Lauderdale, FL: American Swimming Coaches Association.
Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L. and Kenney, W.L. (2008). Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Chapter 6

Boomer, B. and Kredich, M. (2016). Blueprint for Turns and Starts. A video produced by Trip Hedrick, (Ed.), Ames IA.: Championship Productions.
Bosco, C., Komi, P.V., and Ito, A. (1981). Prestretch potentiation of human skeletal muscle during ballistic movement. Acta Physiologica, Schandanavica. 111: 135-140.
Cappaert, J. (1993). Biomechanical analysis of the swimming events in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. Colorado Springs, CO. USA Swimming.
Cappaert, J. and Rushall, B.S. (1994). Biomechanical Analyses of Champion Swimmers. San Diego, CA.: Sports Science Associates.
Mason, B.R., Tong, Z. and Richards, R.J. (1992). Propulsion in the butterfly stroke. In: D. MacLaren, T. Reilly, and A. Lees, (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming: Swimming Science VI. pp. 81-86. New York, NY: EandFN Spon.
Sanders. R.H. (2011). Rhythms in butterfly swimming. In L. Seifert, D. Chollet, and I Mujika, World Book of Swimming: From Science to Performance. pp. 191-202. Hauppage, N.Y. Nova Scientific Publishers.
Sokolovas, G. (2009). Digitizing the swimming stroke: Butterfly. Swimming World Magazine, Vol. 50/7, pp. 38-40.
Spina, M.S. (1995). A Biomechanical Analysis and Comparison of Three Variations of the Grab Start. Master’s Thesis, California State University, Chico, CA.

Chapter 7

Cappaert, J. and Rushall, B.S. (1994). Biomechanical Analyses of Champion Swimmers. p. 4.1 San Diego, CA: Sports Science Associates.
Craig, A.B. Jr. and D.R. Pendergast. (1979). Relationship of stroke rate, distance per stroke, and velocity in competitive swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports , 11:278-283.
Craig, A.B. Jr., Skehan, P.L., Pawelczyk, J.A. and Boomer W.L. (1985). Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke during elite swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 17(6): 625-634.
Maglischo, E.W. (2003). Swimming Fastest. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics,
Sanders. R.H. (2011). Rhythms in butterfly swimming. In L. Seifert, D. Chollet, and I Mujika, World Book of Swimming: From Science to Performance. pp. 191-202. Hauppage, N.Y. Nova Scientific Publishers.
Schleihauf, R.E., Higgins, R., Hinrichs, R., Luedtke, D., Maglischo, C.W., Maglischo, E.W., and Thayer, A. (1984). Biomechanics of swimming propulsion. In: T.R. Welsh, (Ed), ASCA World Clinic Yearbook, pp. 19-24. Fort Lauderdale, FL: American Swimming Coaches Association.

Chapter 8

Craig, A. B., and D. R. Pendergast. (1979). Relationship of stroke rate, distance per stroke, and velocity in competition swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 17(6): 625-634.
Craig, A. B., Skehan, P.L., Pawelczyk, J. A., and Boomer, W. L. (1985). Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke, during elite swimming competition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 17(6): 625-634.
International Olympic Committee, Subcommisson on Biomechanics and Physiology of Sport. (1996). Competition Analyses of Swimming Events. Olympic Games, Atlanta, GA.
International Olympic Committee, Subcommissin on Biomechanics and Physiology of Sport. Biomechanical Analysis, 1998 World Swimming Championships, Perth, Australia. Prepared by the Biomechanics Department, Austalian Institute of Sport.
Keskinen, K.L., Keskinen, O.P. and Mero, A. (1996). Effects of pool length on biomechanical performance in front crawl swimming. In: J.P. Troup, A.P. Hollander, D. Strasse, S.W. Trappe, J.M. Cappaert, and T.A. Trappe, (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, vol. 14, pp. 216-220. New York, NY: E and FN Spon.
Letzelter, H., and Freitag, W. (1983). Stroke Length and stroke frequency variations in men’s and women’s 100 m freestyle swimming. In: J.P. Troup, A.P. Hollander, P.A. Huijing, and G. de Groot, (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, International Series on Sport Sciences, vol. 14, pp. 315-322. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Mason, B., and J. Cossor. (2000). What can we learn from competition analysis. ISBS Swimming online, edited by R. Sanders. Edinburgh, Scotland: University of Edinburgh.

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