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AndriaL
May 22nd, 2017, 08:43 AM
As a petite female in her upper 30's is there anything I can do to overcome my height limitation when it comes to competitive swimming?

I stand at 5ft. 2 1/2 inches and know that I'm at a disadvantage purely based on my height alone. Are there certain events that would be better geared towards the petite swimmer than other events?

Chris Stevenson
May 22nd, 2017, 09:05 AM
As a petite female in her upper 30's is there anything I can do to overcome my height limitation when it comes to competitive swimming?

I stand at 5ft. 2 1/2 inches and know that I'm at a disadvantage purely based on my height alone. Are there certain events that would be better geared towards the petite swimmer than other events?

Height will always be an advantage, but I've known quite a few very fast petite female swimmers. If you are a good endurance athlete, distance freestyle or even open water swimming might be a good fit. My recollection is that most petite swimmers I know tend to do better in the short axis strokes: breaststroke and butterfly. If you have a strong core and dolphin kick, go with butterfly; if you are pretty strong for your weight and have a good frog kick, give breaststoke a try.

But if you are in love with (say) sprint freestyle, don't worry too much about the fact that your head only reaches the shoulders of some of your competitors! There have been plenty of good swimmers who have beat those odds. Small-stature sprinters can often overcome a lack of height with excellent kicking and a fast turnover (and plenty of fast-twitch muscles).

Also: https://coachrickswimming.com/2014/11/01/can-short-swimmers-compete-at-the-highest-levels/

Good luck!

Mark Usher
May 22nd, 2017, 11:00 AM
My former Masters coach, Sheila Taormina, is only 5' 2-1/2" and she won an Olympic gold medal swimming on the 4x200 free relay in Atlanta. :) She has beautiful freestyle technique, built around maximizing her propulsive forces.

Sheila had us do a lot of sculling and catch drills everyday to develop our feel for catching and holding water. We also did a lot of dryland strength training with stretch cords.

I'm only 5'-7" and she always worked with me to keep my stroke long and extending my catch out front as far as possible to maximize my stroke length. She also emphasized not only strong kicking, but kicking in proper sync with your arm strokes.

I improved my freestyle significantly in the time she coached me and I still continue to work on the fundamentals she taught.

As Chris mentioned, it was also suggested to me that I might have more of an advantage (or less of a disadvantage) swimming short-axis strokes (fly & breast). I've done pretty well in fly, but the breaststroke kick and stroke timing are still a challenge for me.

I think the bottom line is that while taller swimmers may have some inherent advantages, shorter swimmers with better technique and fitness can still be competitive.

Good luck.

sunruh
May 22nd, 2017, 11:02 AM
I'm at a disadvantage purely based on my height alone.

i stand a towering 5'9"...imagine the shadow that Matt Biondi cast over me at 6'8" from the lane next to me at nationals in Santa Clara.
welcome to the "short" dna stick.
no, i didnt beat him, but i scared him so much he had to win to do it! ;)

it's not the dog in the fight, but the fight of the dog!

67King
May 22nd, 2017, 12:49 PM
1:01.91 in the 100 free.
1:04.92 in the 100 fly.
1:11.15 in 100 breast.
1:13.13 in the 100 back.
1:04.98 in the 100IM.

Those are the times a 12 y/o friend of my girls (and daughter of a friend of mine) swims. She is about 4'6" and 68 pounds. Sure, she is at a disadvantage, but she is still darn fast. I believe she is 2nd fastest 11-12 girl in both breast strokes in the whole 2.5 state LSC.

ssumargo
May 22nd, 2017, 02:10 PM
The guy next to me at my solo swim is so tall, he is pretty much half way down the pool as he is pushing off the wall. And he can't do flip turns on one end of the pool because it is too shallow for him. He is that tall. Jealous...

Anyways, there is a woman I know, in her late 50s, I believe she is about your height. Her freestyle isn't her fastest stroke but she is still way faster than I am. She tends to do breast stroke and back stroke at meets, and usually the 100 or 200 events.

Allen Stark
May 22nd, 2017, 03:50 PM
I was 5'81/2 in college and shorter than that now. Lots of breaststrokers are short. Kitajima was 5'8". Dave Radcliffe is shorter than I am and he is an amazing ,multiple Masters World Record holding, distance freestyler. Taller swimmers have an advantage on the surface due to less wave drag. They have no such advantage underwater. Leslie Livingston is a little taller than you. She has worked so that her underwater dolphin kicks are amazing and she set several Masters World Records.

Chris Stevenson
May 22nd, 2017, 09:34 PM
Taller swimmers have an advantage on the surface due to less wave drag. They have no such advantage underwater. Leslie Livingston is a little taller than you. She has worked so that her underwater dolphin kicks are amazing and she set several Masters World Records.

I'm not quite as certain as you that tall swimmers don't have an advantage underwater. Tall swimmers also tend to have big feet, I've often wished that I had fins attached to my ankles like Phelps does with his size 14 feet, instead of my dainty little size 9 1/2 feet.

But I'll agree that height is less of an advantage for underwater kicking than surface swimming.

AndriaL
May 22nd, 2017, 10:56 PM
Thank you for the info Chris.

I've been working on my fly because I enjoy the stroke. I can do a 50m fly and am working on building my fly workout.

As for breaststroke, it is not my favorite stroke and I can't seem to get my feet to turn out correctly but will work on it as there might be some potential with that stroke.

My go to event right now is the 100 free.

quicksilver
May 23rd, 2017, 10:27 AM
Height is not always an advantage, but it helps. Janet Evans wasn't even quite 5'-5" and she dominated the distance events throughout her entire career.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K02I7GFwYuw

...on a side note, there are many excellent underwater kickers who are heads and shoulders above their competition, by simply using every speck of the fifteen meter break-out rule. If one becomes skilled and conditioned to excel on their dolphin kicking, the sky is the limit.

cinc3100
May 23rd, 2017, 11:06 AM
Thank you for the info Chris.

I've been working on my fly because I enjoy the stroke. I can do a 50m fly and am working on building my fly workout.

As for breaststroke, it is not my favorite strong and I can't seem to get my feet to turn out correctly but will work on it as there might be some potential with that stroke.

My go to event right now is the 100 free.

Well, not everyone is a breaststroker that is shorter. I'am and as a kid I had a good fly. Freestyle I was fair but my back is terrible.

cinc3100
May 23rd, 2017, 11:07 AM
Height is not always an advantage, but it helps. Janet Evans wasn't even quite 5'-5" and she dominated the distance events throughout her entire career.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K02I7GFwYuw

...on a side note, there are many excellent underwater kickers who are heads and shoulders above their competition, by simply using every speck of the fifteen meter break-out rule. If one becomes skilled and conditioned to excel on their dolphin kicking, the sky is the limit.
She had a hot 400 Im too and her worst stroke was butterfly.

cinc3100
May 23rd, 2017, 11:12 AM
[QUOTE=67King;320950]1:01.91 in the 100 free.
1:04.92 in the 100 fly.
1:11.15 in 100 breast.
1:13.13 in the 100 back.
1:04.98 in the 100IM.

This kid is a lot like me, fly almost as fast as free. As a 18 year old I did a 1:03.8 100 yard free and a 1:05.8 butterfly. My best breaststroke was at age 14 about a month before I turn 15 at 1:16.1 and my back which was terrible best was about 1:17 at 14 but as an 18 year old it was about 1:22 to 1:24, terrible the speed of lots of folks breaststroke.