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Guvnah
July 12th, 2004, 04:55 PM
During the TV coverage of the olympic trials this weekend, Rowdy Gaines mentioned a few times that Phelps has "a long body and short legs" which gives him a perfect build for swimming. (In addition, of course, to his long wingspan.)

I can understand the long body. But why would short legs be an advantage?

My recollection of these sorts of discussions was that the longer your "boat" is, the faster you can go. It would seem, therefore, that both a long body AND long legs would be an advantage.

Comments?

mattson
July 12th, 2004, 05:33 PM
If you have 6' 8" guys with long torsos and short legs, imagine how tall they would have to be if they had long torsos and long legs.

Has anyone tried to get a gorilla to swim? Probably poor flexibility, but great armspan/ long torso / short legs? :D

I'm thinking the long armspan is probably a bigger boon than anything else. At least, I hope so: I have a long torso, and I'm no where near these guys! :eek:

Guvnah
July 12th, 2004, 06:15 PM
Originally posted by mattson
If you have 6' 8" guys with long torsos and short legs, imagine how tall they would have to be if they had long torsos and long legs.

Has anyone tried to get a gorilla to swim? Probably poor flexibility, but great armspan/ long torso / short legs? :D

I'm thinking the long armspan is probably a bigger boon than anything else. At least, I hope so: I have a long torso, and I'm no where near these guys! :eek:

Well, if you have a 6'8" guy, I'll bet he has a long torso AND long legs!
:)

If you ask me, Phelps doesn't seem disproportionate. His legs look as long as anyone else's. I just can't seem to rationalize why shorter legs are an advantage over longer ones.

I wonder if a 7 foot guy would demolish the field... But most likely a 7 foot guy who is athletic enough to swim at that level would probably be off to the NBA to make $10 million per year PLUS endorsements there instead of panhandling for sponsors ...

Allen Stark
July 14th, 2004, 12:50 AM
I hate it when these posts get personel & Rowdy Gaines seems to be a truly wonderful person, but he generally leaves me shaking my head.He is not very knowlegeable about stroke mechanics, body type, or pace. I haven't heard him say anything this meet about a freestyler being at a disadvantage because the are breathing to the opposite side from there opponent yet but he has every other meet I have seen him announce. Has'nt he learned to look underwater?

valhallan
July 14th, 2004, 10:02 AM
Range of motion in their limbs is just as important as how long the arms are. Phelps has incredible flexiblity. Watch how he whips his arms back and forth just before stepping up on the blocks. He's got the wingspan of an albatross, and his hands actually clap when he swings them behind his back. Talk about flexibilty.

Pieter Hoogenband the 100M freestyle world record holder is a mere 6'-3 compared to the bigger guys like Popov and former champion Matt Biondi who stand closer to seven feet than they do six. (Not that 6'-3 is considered short, but being several inches taller can offer a greater advantage in arm length.)

Guvnah
July 14th, 2004, 12:54 PM
Originally posted by valhallan
Range of motion in their limbs is just as important as how long the arms are. Phelps has incredible flexiblity.

Something else I noticed about Phelps. He seems to get more extension from his shoulders than other guys. I noticed it on some of the overhead shots from the trials.

When a swimmer's hand strikes the water, he can get extra extension by pushing his arm forward under water (actually rolling his shoulders) and Phelps seemed to get an extra 18 inches (I know, that's an exaggeration) on each arm over his competitors. He seemed to get more from his right arm than his left...

---

As for the original question (about the advantage of short legs) I just can't make sense of that notion. I think I'm going to dismiss it and stop worrying that my legs are too long for swimming. :)

coach guy
July 16th, 2004, 03:42 PM
better balance. The weight of your legs is closer to your center of bouancy making it easier to tip forward and get your hips up. That would be my guess.

And as far as Rowdy mentioning breathing away from an opponant, I did hear him mention it. I don't remember which event but it would appear that the streak stands.

pmbchill
July 16th, 2004, 04:05 PM
Phelps mentioned on Leno last night that he started out playing a lot of sports when he was young but decided to stick to swimming when he was 11 because of his short legs. What's with that? Our family has a picture of him from head to toe and I just don't see the short legs.

Steve Ruiter
July 16th, 2004, 04:16 PM
Perhaps what is meant by the advantage of shorter legs is that A PERSON OF A GIVEN HEIGHT is more suited for swimming if he (or she) has longer arms and shorter legs. (And a person of given proprtions will be better off taller than shorter.)

Most of the propulsion comes from the arms, so longer arms are better. Shorter legs flip over quicker on turns and probably provide nearly as much propulsion as long ones.

So it seems like a maximize the assets and minimize the liabilities problem.

Steve