PDA

View Full Version : The Lope



Seagurl51
April 13th, 2007, 01:55 PM
Everyone who watched coverage of the World Championships this year no doubt noticed Michael Phelps new distinct lope in his freestyle. I know a lot of other swimmers do this too, and their freaking fast, so this morning I asked my coach about it. She looked at me quizzically and said it's a very bad habit to have and if you don't do it naturally just forget about it.

But, Phelps didn't have this very obvious lope up to now, and he just broke 5 world records with it. So it doesn't seem like it can be that bad. I'm not to prove my coach wrong, I'm just curious.

So if anybody knows anything, please share. Why does it make some fast and for others it could be considered a bad habit? What's the trick to learning it? If it is a bad habit, why did Phelps bother to pronounce it?

FlyQueen
April 13th, 2007, 02:11 PM
Everyone who watched coverage of the World Championships this year no doubt noticed Michael Phelps new distinct lope in his freestyle. I know a lot of other swimmers do this too, and their freaking fast, so this morning I asked my coach about it. She looked at me quizzically and said it's a very bad habit to have and if you don't do it naturally just forget about it.

But, Phelps didn't have this very obvious lope up to now, and he just broke 5 world records with it. So it doesn't seem like it can be that bad. I'm not to prove my coach wrong, I'm just curious.

So if anybody knows anything, please share. Why does it make some fast and for others it could be considered a bad habit? What's the trick to learning it? If it is a bad habit, why did Phelps bother to pronounce it?

Kyra, I could be wrong but ...

It is a bad habit, it obviously works for Phelps as does breathing every stroke on fly. Neither of which I would advocate. Loping can lead to a severe stroke imbalance and make you far more inefficient in the water. As soon as I see it (unless it's on a REALLY strong swimmer) I start having them alternate breathe ... It can make the non breathing side arm slip ... it can mess with your tempo ... Phelps' is a result of his underwater kicks and he has enough power to do it well (obviously)

scyfreestyler
April 13th, 2007, 02:12 PM
I don't think Phelps went out and said "Bob, I want to develop a lope in my stroke. Horses do it, so maybe I should follow suit."

I find myself swimming with a lope at times when I drive one arm forward stronger than the other. It seems to conserve energy and take me further with less energy expended. My guess would be that Phelps drives forward more strongly with one arm than the other which produces the side effect of swimming with a lope.

Seagurl51
April 13th, 2007, 02:18 PM
I find myself swimming with a lope at times when I drive one arm forward stronger than the other. It seems to conserve energy and take me further with less energy expended.


That's why I was curious. I tried it the other when I was just messing around and it felt like I was going farther with less effort, which is why I was surprised to find out it was bad. I'm sure Phelps didn't go up and say Bob Lope my Stroke, but if it is so bad, then why did Bowman allow it to become so pronounced rather than trying to balance out his stroke.

Keep the ideas coming...love to hear 'em.

Seagurl51
April 13th, 2007, 02:26 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPQx6AbfA5w ---here's Phelps just recently in the 200 free in Melbourne. (It's in Japanese, but they sound really excited.) But notice his very distinct lope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbXQXTDnywg ---here's the 200 free from Athens. Phelps is lopeless in Lane 3.


It seems like a really big difference to be such a bad habit.

scyfreestyler
April 13th, 2007, 02:32 PM
Wasn't Janet Evans a big loper? Far too much is made of this "ideal" stroke and form.

I would say that if something works well for you then do it. Don't worry about what the so called experts say.

Seagurl51
April 13th, 2007, 02:37 PM
Wasn't Janet Evans a big loper? Far too much is made of this "ideal" stroke and form.

I would say that if something works well for you then do it. Don't worry about what the so called experts say.

I just looked up videos of Janet Evans on youtube after my coach mentioned her this morning. I had never seen her swim before. I'm shocked she went as fast as she did with that stroke!!

knelson
April 13th, 2007, 02:51 PM
I love the Scottish announcer in the Athens vid. I kept expecting him to say something like "Phelps has been setting world records since he was a wee bairn." :)

After watching the two videos the thing that struck me the most about the difference in Phelps' stroke is how high his elbows are now on his recovery. I'm guessing he's doing this to get his arms into a higher elbow position on the catch (EVF, if you will). I think Phelps has always loped, though. Maybe it's more pronounced now. Honestly, I think swimmers should strive for a symmetrical stroke, but there's nothing wrong with loping for those who succeed with it. Yes, you need to be careful about what's going on with your shoulder and not leaning on it to much, but I don't think there's any evidence I know of suggesting lopers are more prone to injury. I think the proof is in the pudding that you can swim very fast with a loping stroke. There have been lots of great swimmers with this kind of stroke.

thewookiee
April 13th, 2007, 02:58 PM
This is an interesting topic. Personally, I think that if your stroke doesn't cause you pain(like shouler issues) and you are efficient with it, then continue to use it, regardless if it looks pretty or if others think it wrong.

Now with that said, I do think we all should continue to look for ways to improve our strokes. Regardless of how fast we are or how our stroke looks to others, we can always find little(sometimes big) ways to improve what we got.

newmastersswimmer
April 13th, 2007, 03:05 PM
Perhaps the lope helps a swimmer to establish a good rhythm as well as conserve energy? ....I lope as well.....but of course I'm not "quite" as fast as Phelps. I think it might help to conserve energy by helping to create a more energy efficient stroke ...although I can't say why exactly.....I noticed from my own personal experience that I relax more on my recovery and feel like I'm exerting less energy (but still maintaining the same speed more or less) when I lope vs not loping. Phelps looked very relaxed on the first 150 of that 200....I think the lope may have been more pronounced to stay loose and relaxed (while keeping the recovery relaxed) on that first 150.....hence he saved up energy for the blast of energy he used coming off of the last turn and the all out sprint down the stretch on the last 50 where he really pulled away from Peter V. and the rest of the field. I have witnessed several pretty fast swimmers (usually middle distance to distance swimmers though) growing up that also had a lope in their strokes....I also breathe to one side (as opposed to bilateral breathing) ....and it looked as if Phelps also breathed to one side in that race....perhaps the one sided breathing is connected to the whole energy conserving part of the lope (in the sense that the method doesn't work as well when you breathe bilaterally??)....Just speculating though....but you asked for our feedback...and thats my best guess (and of course I "could" be wrong....but then again its me right.....LOL!!)

Newmastersswimmer

knelson
April 13th, 2007, 03:09 PM
Back in the days I read Usenet regularly, there was a guy who posted a lot in rec.sport.swimming about loping. His theory was that loping is actually beneficial and postulated the lope allows swimmers to "ride their own bow wave." It was an interesting theory. Not sure I buy it, but he really did spend a considerable amount of time thinking about this.

A Google search of rec.sport.swimming would probably return a lot of hits on "loping."

nkfrench
April 13th, 2007, 03:49 PM
His theory was that loping is actually beneficial and postulated the lope allows swimmers to "ride their own bow wave." It was an interesting theory.

I think this idea has a lot of merit.

smontanaro
April 13th, 2007, 04:00 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPQx6AbfA5w ... notice his very distinct lope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbXQXTDnywg ... Athens ... lopeless ...

It seems like a really big difference to be such a bad habit.

I watched the race in the worlds a few times the other day. It seems to me that Van den Hoogenband was faster between the walls in the first 150 but that Phelps killed him on the turns. On the fourth 50 Phelps obviously had more gas in his tank and pulled away. I'm not an elite swimmer though, so maybe I missed something. Did anyone else get that impression? If that was truly the case maybe the lope in his stroke wasn't all that helpful.

Skip Montanaro

smontanaro
April 13th, 2007, 04:06 PM
Back in the days I read Usenet regularly, there was a guy who posted a lot in rec.sport.swimming about loping. His theory was that loping is actually beneficial and postulated the lope allows swimmers to "ride their own bow wave."

Maybe the asymmetry allows him to take in more air when he breathes?

Skip

hofffam
April 13th, 2007, 04:10 PM
The biggest "loper" is not Phelps but Lezak. And he's always been that way.

I don't have a link to it - but if you watch the 4x100 free relay from the Pan Pacifics (the standing world record swim) I think you'll see Phelps with the lope (but still not as much as Lezak). Another interesting part of this race is that the Walker, Jones, Phelps, and Lezak all breathe on just about every stroke the last 50M of their legs.

Other interesting things about these guys:

Lezak does not dolphin kick off the walls. He flutter kicks. So does Vanderkaay.
Phelps has exceptional reach on his pull - watch the underwater youtube video of the recent duel in the pool.

newmastersswimmer
April 13th, 2007, 06:04 PM
I watched the race in the worlds a few times the other day. It seems to me that Van den Hoogenband was faster between the walls in the first 150 but that Phelps killed him on the turns. On the fourth 50 Phelps obviously had more gas in his tank and pulled away. I'm not an elite swimmer though, so maybe I missed something. Did anyone else get that impression? If that was truly the case maybe the lope in his stroke wasn't all that helpful.

Skip Montanaro


I adressed this same kind of observation in posting #10 above ....only I had the opposite impression in that I conjectured that the lope in his stroke during the first 150 may have allowed him to stay smooth and relaxed (saving and conserving energy) ...and then he used the extra energy he saved on the first 150 to blast the last turn and bolt the last 50 home the way he did....but who knows? It is hard to tell exactly....If the lope helped him to ride his own bow wave as Kirk conjectured, then perhaps he was able to save up extra energy during the first 150?? It is an interesting possibility if nothing else.


Newmastersswimmer

quicksilver
April 13th, 2007, 06:32 PM
The biggest "loper" is not Phelps but Lezak. And he's always been that way.

Took the words right out my key board. He literally hammers the water...hard to one side. It's a very distinct rhythm.

He went 46 for the 100 meter free (short course)...with a breath every stroke...and a flutter kick of fury the whole way...especially off the walls (no dolphin). He's a virtual wrecking machine.

That said...a lope is very normal. And it appears to be a natural rhythm which helps build momentum during the arm cycle.

Janet Evans has an obvious hitch in her stroke as she pounded her way through the long distance races.


From above water this looks sloppy. But she's moving!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71CN4yNMgtY

smontanaro
April 13th, 2007, 06:33 PM
I'm not a physicist, but I'm skeptical of this "riding the bow wave"
idea. For one thing, to ride the wave I think you'd have to be ahead
of it (think of body surfing). For another, the energy required to
get high enough in the water to "ride" the wave seems like it would be
exorbitant and would be directed at raising you out of the water
instead of propelling you forward. Finally, the wave you produce
moves away from you to either side, not in front of you where you
can "catch" it. I don't think there's much there to ride. The only
positive thing I can think of is that the wave you produce creates a
trough behind it allowing you to breathe without getting your mouth as
far out of the water (less rotation needed to breath). I seem to
recall something on the Total Immersion freestyle DVD about "riding the
wave" (he didn't like it either), but I loaned mine out so I can't confirm that.

Skip

rtodd
April 13th, 2007, 06:39 PM
I have developed a lope. I think it comes from the slight pause during breathing and the the increased velocity for the entering arm to "catch up" to the leg cycle. This arm velocity causes an increase in momentum and it is taken advantage of with a bit longer and stroger glide. Then the whole thing repeats.

I guess it is OK to a point. Thorpe had none of this and I think his stroke was the most pleasing to watch.

Paul Smith
April 13th, 2007, 06:47 PM
I think at times people tend to overanalyze the technical aspects of stroke work and lose site of a very important element....fluidness. I see this most often in people who breather bilateral (every 3 or 5)....often they are to flat in the water and mechanical.

I'm not saying forget about technique....quite the opposite....but there if a person feels smoother and stronger breathing every 2 strokes.....which will produce a natural lope....and everything "underwater" is being executed properly than it's fine.

Point is....don't be afraid to try things (except breastroke....don't bother with it :) ).....what works for one person is not going to be the same for all.

gull
April 13th, 2007, 07:01 PM
Interesting thread. Thanks for the video links. I agree that Phelps had a "lope" in Athens, but it was less obvious. Notice how symmetric Thorpe's stroke was.

Six months ago I switched to bilateral breathing which eliminated my lope, (and helped my shoulders, distributing the load more evenly). On the other hand, I think I do have more of a tendency to swim flat, and of course I get less air.

3strokes
April 13th, 2007, 11:42 PM
rtodd;87553
I have developed a lope. I think it comes from the slight pause during breathing and the the increased velocity for the entering arm to "catch up" to the leg cycle. This arm velocity causes an increase in momentum and it is taken advantage of with a bit longer and stronger glide.


I'm no Phelps (way too far from it) but when I "lope", even though it looks a bit like a limp (one arm, the left for me, pushes back stronger to allow
my body and right arm, to kind of lunge forward stronger/faster with my right arm entering further afield), the whole loping undulation produces a dolphin-like general body (well the best word is) "undulation". It is almost as if I'm trying to propel my body to dolphin its way out of the water (in free style) and dive in with my right-arm. I've noticed it works best (i.e., I feel faster) whenever I'm accelerating.



I guess it is OK to a point. Thorpe had none of this and I think his stroke was the most pleasing to watch.


However I did notice Thorpe loping somewhat, specially in relays when he's trying to catch up to competitors, as he's accelerating and increasing his tempo. He doesn't so much increase his turnovers as he seems to be increasing his distance per stroke (much as a Cheetah speeding up for the last burst of speed) reaching forward further ahead (but still with a bent elbow recovery). His freestyle 100m, 200m or 400m are a pleasure to watch.

Seagurl51
April 14th, 2007, 01:11 AM
I'm no Phelps (way too far from it) but when I "lope", even though it looks a bit like a limp (one arm, the left for me, pushes back stronger to allow
my body and right arm, to kind of lunge forward stronger/faster with my right arm entering further afield), the whole loping undulation produces a dolphin-like general body (well the best word is) "undulation". It is almost as if I'm trying to propel my body to dolphin its way out of the water (in free style) and dive in with my right-arm. I've noticed it works best (i.e., I feel faster) whenever I'm accelerating.



That's what I was thinking too. When I was messing around it seemed like I could exaggerate the undulation which is obviously gonna make you go farther. Even without exaggerating it, I still felt like I was doing more with my body. Seems like an undulating motion would be better than the side to side rolling.

3strokes
April 14th, 2007, 05:56 AM
Seagurl51;87641
That's what I was thinking too. When I was messing around it seemed like I could exaggerate the undulation which is obviously gonna make you go farther. Even without exaggerating it, I still felt like I was doing more with my body. Seems like an undulating motion would be better than the side to side rolling.


Actually, I find that I do a bit of both (the rolling is ingrained. I only do the lope when I consciously want to accelerate; it's almost like trying to throw myself forward in the water and catching myself before I fall. I guess it's the H2O equivalent of running -or stumbling- downhill).
It's not really a full corkscrew motion, The side-to-side is still there but I'm more aware of (kinda') throwing or willing my body forward.