View Full Version : front quadrant swimming

July 4th, 2002, 10:27 AM
Having just gotten back into competetive swimming after a long reprieve (18 years since college), I've been curious about some of the latest techniques and stroke mechanics. And I feel like I've just emerged from the dark ages.

Apparently "swimming tall", and more importantly "front quadrant" swimming have revolutionized the sport according to some of the publications that I've delved into. Suprisingly after some experimentation the new techniques have really reduced the drag effect that I've been battling over the past few months.

But I always thought that sprinters tend to move through the water like hydroplanes, not like sailboats with a roll from side to side. Any thoughts on the art of "fishlike swimming"?

Tom Ellison
July 5th, 2002, 12:17 AM
Hi Val:
I think you will hear a lot about stroke length, stroke length, stroke length...

July 5th, 2002, 05:25 AM
Thanks for the reply. Having said that , I,ve always tried to keep my stroke count down to 11 or 12 per twenty five yds. during workouts. Makes me wonder if I haven't been swimming flat all this time anyway, which is precisely what we're not supposed to be doing.
I do know this however,... the fastest swimmers definetly get across the pool with the least amount strokes not necessarily faster turnover of the arms. Thanks again.

Tom Ellison
July 5th, 2002, 06:55 AM
Look around in this forum a bit and you will find a post that talks about this subject. Emmett and some of the other coaches discussed this topic and the divergent methods of teaching stroke mechanics in detail. I think you will find answers to all your questions. Evan an old Jar Head like me learns a thing of two on occasion. :D

Kevin in MD
July 5th, 2002, 10:23 AM
I think lots of people returing to the pool hear that phrase.

It's a quote from the book Gold in the Water, thanks to other board users who suggested it.

Here are two paragraphs of a triathlon coach's notes from an ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) conference. You can find all of his notes here (http://www.byrn.org/swimconf.htm)

Elements of Modern Freestyle

Any deviations from these points tend to be either poor technique or a compensating movement for some other error (specifically when legs move out of alignment).

# Horizontal body with no vertical shoulder movement on entry. [Free speed when we get the body horizontal]
# Immediate catch with vertical alignment of hand, wrist and forearm -- minimal downward pressure post-entry and rapid transition of horizontal pull. [Huge weakness for virtually all triathletes]
# Head down at all times (look down or to the side when breathing)
# Hips and shoulders rotate together and to same degree.
# Legs within body shadow
# Kick rotates with hips
# Upper arm aligned with shoulders for pull and recovery (tough for swimmers that have inflexible shoulders)
# Streamlined feet

Forbes' video was excellent. It covered 100 years of swimming and showed that there was very little technical progress until the last 20 years. He had some great comments as well. My two favorites were:

"Think of how fast they could have gone if they knew how to swim" -- speaking about Olympic Champions in the early 1900s.

"Pretty good technique, I wonder why he wasn't faster" -- speaking about Mark Spitz!

Stroking Action

Forbes emphasized that the catch should be straight back and that there is no s-shaped movement. This came through loud and clear watching his video of the elites. Enter, snap catch, crank back, repeat with perfect body position.

Forbes also emphasized that the muscles involved in the swimming stroke, "take years of judicious practice" to reach their potential. No doubt this is due to the fact that an efficient swimming stroke is not something that comes naturally to humans. Also an excellent case for correcting our technique ASAP.

July 5th, 2002, 11:37 AM
Up until the 1960's, swimmers rarely workout twice a day year round. So techique would effect their performance little. Most of the fast times have occurred since the 1970's were at the elite level and some records like Mary T Meagher 200 meter butterly took about 20 years to break. Also, Janet Evans has some ancient records too. In the 1960's and 1970's records would rarely last more than 5 years.

Rain Man
July 5th, 2002, 02:56 PM
Check out this video (quality questionable but good enough) and tell me how much hip roll you see...


And she is the fastest women's sprinter in history.


..another one, fastest American sprinter in history.

But then there's http://www.per4m.ca/Swim%20Videos/popov2.mpeg

far more roll, and the fastest men's sprinter in history.

So what I'm trying to say is find the correct head position, sufficient hip rotation, and YOUR most effective stroke length and stroke rate. Swimming never has been and never will be "one size fits all." Take into account everything you read and hear and use it as an information base upon which to draw as you set out to improve in your return to competetive swimming.

Good luck.


Rain Man
July 7th, 2002, 01:32 PM

Sorry, after reading your last post I'm not sure I conveyed my thoughts on those particular sprinters' hip rolls properly. What I meant to point out was that the two women sprinters have very little apparent hip roll. Popov has more than those two, but it's still not as if he rolls completely to his side. I think if you watch a majority of the top sprinters, there is less hip roll apparent than watching the middle-distance and long-distance swimmers.


July 7th, 2002, 04:00 PM
You are suppose to roll completely to the sides? Only in drills, not regular swimming. The faster you swim the less roll you have but the trick is to have a roll. In warm up and cool down these guys have quite the roll and have arms that play semi catch-up.

Much of the propulsive part comes from the pushing of the hip down (and around) timed with the arm exchange and anchoring of the lower arm. You need some roll for the hips (core) to have power