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JMiller
December 3rd, 2007, 01:14 PM
Check
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKu9E07JGjU&NR=1

Whoa... I'm speechless... well, momentarily anyways...

That is incredible, I've never seen anything quite like
this before!! What a perfect example of a totally unique
stroke, a bizarre phenomena that might not ever become
mainstream swimming philosophy.

I mean, it would be near to impossible to try and mimic
this stroke pattern, not to mention, how could someone
actually describe this appropriately in words...???!!

Attempting the impossible, just for the sheer need of
understanding, how could I let this opportunity "swim"
away?

His mix of technical variables are somewhat shocking,
and trying to describe his kick pattern combined with
his torso and pulling action is a slightly daunting task.

I mean, this appears to be a hybrid swimming stroke,
combining elements of butterfly and freestyle, with very
little semblance of previously accepted principals. This
may be the new "stroke" or just something that works
solely for this man.

Personally, I'm not willing to risk everything by endorsing
this stroke, but I will not disappoint by trying my best to
explain it.

His windmill action above water has been seen before, not
a complete shock, but it is when we look under-water that
I'm completely flabbergasted...

All the concepts I've known about sprint freestyle are almost
completely contrary with Stefan Nystrand.

Where should I start?

1. He bounces through his stroke, a tighter version of
the body dolphin action, during freestyle??!!

2. He swims "uphill", totally bizzare, but this is what I'm seeing.
You can even pause his stroke in the 25 meter under water angle,
and the result is uncanny. It appears that he rotates from side to side,
so fast, that the resistance from his body position is mitigated.

3. His "catch" stays near the surface, and he begins pulling
immediately, he doesn't wait for his forearm to be perpendicular to
the bottom of the pool. ***GASP*** Instead, he almost drops his
elbow, and pulls at 45 degrees, in exchange for faster tempo, and
the body dolphin.

4. His kick, ummmmm, his kick... What is that? A four-beat freestyle/dolphin blend? It's like his legs are assisting with the upper body set-up and over-all body-dolphin action.... ???!!!????!!!!

Okay folks, not sure what else to say, except.... WOW!

jonblank
December 3rd, 2007, 01:48 PM
Also an amazingly fast reaction to the start gun. Can you say, "rolling start"? I can say, "DQ".

quicksilver
December 3rd, 2007, 02:10 PM
What I found interesting ...not only with his swim...but also at the short course yards championships...is how many sprinters are using the straight arm recovery.

Kind of looks like inverted backstroke. Can't argue how fast it is though.

The Fortress
December 3rd, 2007, 02:36 PM
Check www.simma.nu (http://www.simma.nu) for video verification, scroll down to Nov 12 and all the action on Nystrand is there.
3. His "catch" stays near the surface, and he begins pulling
immediately, he doesn't wait for his forearm to be perpendicular to
the bottom of the pool. ***GASP*** Instead, he almost drops his
elbow, and pulls at 45 degrees, in exchange for faster tempo, and
the body dolphin.



Egad. I think this describes my catch in free. I think I'm EVF challenged.

It does seem very common for sprinters to have a straight arm recovery. Is it because it increases stroke rate? On another thread, the wookiee said straight arm free won't hurt your shoulder if you do it right? How do you do it right though?

Nystrand has really taken the straight arm windmill to a new level though ...

quicksilver
December 3rd, 2007, 03:43 PM
Straight arm recovery has been around for a long time. (Janet Evans, Inrgird DeBruin and Michael Klim all used this style.)

It actually looks very strange on the surface...but underwater it's not too different.
The advantage, they say, is that the arms generate momentum along with a fast turn over.

Nathan
December 3rd, 2007, 04:04 PM
Maybe not pretty, but boy... is it fast :notworthy:

TheGoodSmith
December 3rd, 2007, 05:18 PM
Evil Smith and I are flabbergasted. For a second or so I thought he was swimming backstroke from the upper camera angle.

His stroke TRULY flies in the face of ALL modern day coaching. It looks like something from a summer league team or the 1960s.

He looks like he's just muscling through the whole race..... absolute and pure upper body power.

Quicksilver...... Inky, Klim and Janet are NO WHERE NEAR this extreme on their straight arm technique...... let alone the VERY high head position and crazy kick.

This guy's from Mars.

John Smith

Sam Perry
December 3rd, 2007, 05:25 PM
Wow,

I got a bum shoulder now. Just watching that made it hurt worse. :whiteflag:

quicksilver
December 3rd, 2007, 06:44 PM
This guy's from Mars.



I didn't want to say anything...but it sure ain't pretty.

There's going to be lots of people experimenting with this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7oL8y8xRA4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1209RJEXXRw&feature=related
Head up...and hips down...??? ...with a stutter kick!

TheGoodSmith
December 3rd, 2007, 08:35 PM
This sport is a victim of too many fads.

JMiller
December 3rd, 2007, 09:39 PM
It actually looks very strange on the surface...but underwater it's not too different.

Not too different under-water? Did you take a look at the straight on video? He catches high and does an in-sweep down the center line starting above his head, and right tight to his body??!! Klim and Janet Evans didn't do anything like that....

I tried this in work-out tonight, and although it actually was a bit faster for me, (it could have been the adrenalin) 24.83 short course meters from a push, I don't think I'll train for this though... It felt like my back and shoulders would be unhappy after a few days...

quicksilver
December 3rd, 2007, 10:49 PM
"Did you take a look at the straight on video?"


Got it. It's just defies all principles of swimming science.

Maglischo's book is going to need a few revisions.




BTW...(24 seconds from the wall! That's impressive.)

knelson
December 4th, 2007, 01:20 AM
I tried this in work-out tonight, and although it actually was a bit faster for me, (it could have been the adrenalin) 24.83 short course meters from a push

For a 50? Maybe you should stick with it. Sounds darn fast to me!

Syd
December 4th, 2007, 08:50 AM
That's what I call 'high frequency swimming'. He's like a humming bird, he is. If you look closely at his SDK's you will hardly notice the undulations. He isn't moving them up and down much but he is moving them buzzingly fast instead. This is in keeping with his wildly fast arm movements.

His kick is different, too. Notice how much deeper the left leg (I think it is the left leg but it is difficult to tell on that grainy video) kicks than the right leg. I could also be wrong here but it looks like the right leg is doing more beats than the left. Perhaps that is why the left is going deeper - using depth to compensate for slower speed and thus maintain rhythm.

It ain't pretty but it is effective. Someone else posted on another forum that if you just saw the video of him swimming without the times you would think he wasn't very good. But the clock doesn't lie and he is obviously doing something very right.

Syd

JMiller
December 4th, 2007, 12:22 PM
You know, after further analysis, (many hours of staring in a dumbstruck fashion) I've come to another conclusion.

It appears that Stefan isn't doing the free kick in the "traditional sense", but instead it seems he is doing single dolphin kicks with each leg, and just allowing the beat to be loose in terms of how it corresponds with his lightning fast arm-cycle.

There certainly IS an over-all body dolphin that results from this action, and it is bizarre, albeit tighter and smaller. (This can even be seen by his bouncing stroke from the above water angle) Also, if you look at the head-on video you can see his head and shoulders moving up and down, up and down, without a doubt.

Again from the side view, the head up and feet down (frozen frame) looks hauntingly similar to a butterfly action, except the arms are spinning in a freestyle motion. (In one picture I managed to capture, his feet are nearly together in motion, just like a dolphin kick)

This stroke is nearly impossible, but hey, I guess that's why we call it sport.

S - Staying
P - Performance
O - Oriented
R - Respecting
T - Talent

The Fortress
December 4th, 2007, 05:56 PM
I wonder why it is only "pretty" if it conforms to conventional norms? We're just so brainwashed to think that high elbows are prettier we can't see anything else as "pretty" anymore. Instead, it's brutish and ugly. I dunno. I think your ideal stroke mechanics might depend somewhat on your body type and your own individual strengths in swimming. Nystrand must think he's faster this way, and that's why he adopted the unique stroke. he's obviously faster than the "pretty" people. I'd give it a try myself, but it does look pretty hard on the shoulders. I like the notion of a high frequency freetsyle body dolphin. It's interesting. It's also nice to see something different every once in awhile. If we didn't have some "fads," things would get dull.

smontanaro
December 4th, 2007, 07:24 PM
If we didn't have some "fads," things would get dull.

And not progress as far or as fast. We wouldn't have the Fosbury Flop for instance. When we the last time you saw a western roll used in a high jump competition?

Skip Montanaro

JMiller
December 4th, 2007, 08:57 PM
I wonder why it is only "pretty" if it conforms to conventional norms?

Stefan Nystrand is a perfect example of unconventional stroke mechanics and this exemplifies why each athlete should do what works best for them. It's good to see the full spectrum, Popov to Nystrand.

In my books, that's absolutely beautiful.

JMiller
December 4th, 2007, 09:03 PM
Maybe not pretty, but boy... is it fast :notworthy:


Nathan Jendrick, I've been checking out your web page, thanks
for the link... I'll check it out regularly...

JMiller
December 5th, 2007, 12:22 AM
You know the Masters world record for 25-29 50 free short course is held by Stefan Nystrand with a time of 22.11

The 35-39 Masters world record for 50 free short course is held by Mark Foster with a time of 21.53
That's 10 years later...

That makes for an interesting graph...
Hmmmmm....

3strokes
December 5th, 2007, 08:19 AM
Also an amazingly fast reaction to the start gun. Can you say, "rolling start"? I can say, "DQ".

Good catch. Funny you should mention that.
After watching it on the URL mentioned above, I actually watched it on Youtube.com proper.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdc4h-ghpJA&feature=related

The tilte said, Nystrand 50m free - 20.92 DSQ
The article confirmed the DQ

All other comments in this thread apart, of course.

Superfly
December 5th, 2007, 10:22 AM
...and for the ones who bother to scroll upwards and also look at the linked YouTube videos you also see that Stefan Nystrand broke both the 50 SCM and 100 SCM world records 2 weeks after that DSQ in Moscow...fair and square. And he noted the second fastest time in history (next to Popov) in LCM a couple of months ago. No doubt about the fact that this guy is smoking fast. Will be interesting to see if ha can display the same times at Beijing next year....and also to see how far the ortodox part of the free swimming world can take it.

allenhighnote
December 5th, 2007, 01:47 PM
Hmm. Non-traditional vs ugly... I'm sorry to say, ugly is ugly. Albeit non-traditional.

I'd like to see some high quality underwater footage with head on shots.

Superfly
December 5th, 2007, 05:41 PM
how about this underwater footage of Stefan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0gtwQxdXCU&feature=related

some 5 years ago, but almost the same technique today

or this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1209RJEXXRw&feature=related

some 4 years ago

or this from front:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiZTm7_n82Y&feature=related

Superfly
December 5th, 2007, 05:44 PM
Hmm. Non-traditional vs ugly... I'm sorry to say, ugly is ugly. Albeit non-traditional.

I'd like to see some high quality underwater footage with head on shots.

Hmmmm...ugly or not...it is fast...and that is what counts. I remember the same discussions around the V-style in ski jumpin a couple of years ago...."ugly" as h-ll, but now everyone is using this style.

The Fortress
December 5th, 2007, 05:50 PM
Hmmmm...ugly or not...it is fast...and that is what counts. I remember the same discussions around the V-style in ski jumpin a couple of years ago...."ugly" as h-ll, but now everyone is using this style.

Exactly. Plus, it's only "ugly" if you accept the prevailing preconceived notion of "pretty," i.e., TI high elbows. It didn't bother me at all. In fact, I might try it. I have a fairly straight arm high SR sprint freestyle. This style might be faster for me.

I'm sure people used to think wave action breaststroke was ugly.

gull
December 5th, 2007, 06:25 PM
In The Swim Coaching Bible, Rick DeMont tells the story of how his grandfather would say to him before a race, "Make it look pretty." This is definitely not pretty, no matter how fast it is.

fanstone
December 5th, 2007, 07:11 PM
"I'm sure people used to think wave action breaststroke was ugly." What? Don't you still think it is ugly? Watching masters races, you sometimes get some old timers seeded with younger ones and you can see the two styles side by side. Last week I saw a guy my age (56) who was a fairly fast young breast stroke guy in the 60s, swim with the old style along side a younger guy doing the wave. He won, and looked good, but only on sheer experience. When I was about 7 or 8 I use to watch the Tarzan movies and try to swim like the guy there, mostly Weissmuller. That was my crawl school, in lakes, no swimming pools till I was about 14. It was more like this guy or Evans than the Early Vertical stuff I do nowadays. However, keep in mind, much more experienced and faster Leslie, that when sprinting, we start losing all that style and the stretching fully and we go towards what this guy does and Evans did. billy fanstone

Allen Stark
December 5th, 2007, 07:35 PM
I read a few years ago that Inky's coach(Bergan?) thought that the straight arm recovery aided a sprinter keeping their rhythm while tiring and therefore finish strong.Nystrand seems more unorthodox on the surface than underwater to me.Also a fast turnover can compensate for a multitude of inefficiencies.In my opinion a fast time on the scoreboard is the prettiest sight.

allenhighnote
December 5th, 2007, 07:43 PM
how about this underwater footage of Stefan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0gtwQxdXCU&feature=related

some 5 years ago, but almost the same technique today

or this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1209RJEXXRw&feature=related

some 4 years ago

or this from front:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiZTm7_n82Y&feature=related

Thanks for the links!

The front video really shows how soon his catch is. The instant his hand enters the water, he's pulling his body forward and it's due to the straight arm recovery. That is where he's getting his speed. He is dropping his elbow on the last 1/4 of the pull but he gets his hand back to the catch so quickly where it can do the most good. I wonder how much speed he's getting from his pseudo-dolphin motion in his kick?

It's amazing he has not had any major shoulder problems with that flat body position and windmill stroke.

JMiller
December 6th, 2007, 01:04 PM
Thanks for the links!
I wonder how much speed he's getting from his pseudo-dolphin motion in his kick?

A video analysis guru, that I've known over the years has suggested that the kick in terms of propulsive forces during the swim is actually quite minimal compared to the energy output required to produce effective forward motion.

He went on to say that the kick is actually more important in terms of maintaining body position and assisting with the stroke cycle.

With Nystrand's kick it can be argued that his feet act as stabilizers to maintain his fast arm cycles without any pausing or reduction in tempo. Also, the energy saved in his legs can be used in the main propulsive engine, his arms.

quicksilver
December 6th, 2007, 01:21 PM
I always tell my age group swimmers to move through the water quietly.
"If you fight with the water...it's going to fight back". Less resistance is ideal.

Having said that...if one of the kids were waging war with the water...I'd take them aside and go over the zen of swimming.

I played this clip a few times along with the others...my perspective has been slightly shifted. Although I still advocate smooth swimming.
Even if he looks like Johny lap swimmer doing the all out sprint from the deep end to the shallow....he's fast as ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cIu3LcjnK8&feature=related

Superfly
December 6th, 2007, 05:17 PM
Quicksilver, that vid is over 5 years old...his technique now is even more extreme than 2002...so he must think he has found something great in this otherwise he would have gone back to the herd...right?

quicksilver
December 6th, 2007, 06:35 PM
You're right.

The above water now looks more like the inverted backstroke everyone described.
Much cleaner. ..but still an aggressive hand and arm entry.

An unusual style altogether.

Ooosc
December 7th, 2007, 08:16 PM
This man has HYPER-EXtendable arms and shoulders. He can put his hands on his waist, and have his elbows touch eachother in front of him. The same movement he uses for his strong catch right when breaking the surface.

That should explain why he is not shoulder injured. Also, he never does more than 3000 meters / workout. His training is perfectly tailor made for him. And he performs.

// O

malleboy
December 8th, 2007, 07:52 AM
What I found interesting ...not only with his swim...but also at the short course yards championships...is how many sprinters are using the straight arm recovery.

Kind of looks like inverted backstroke. Can't argue how fast it is though.


Ive seen it that people use the straight arm recovery could be something that its alot faster then to use the bended arm! you will get a better and probebly a faster stroke!

Superfly
December 8th, 2007, 05:20 PM
This man has HYPER-EXtendable arms and shoulders. He can put his hands on his waist, and have his elbows touch eachother in front of him. The same movement he uses for his strong catch right when breaking the surface.

That should explain why he is not shoulder injured. Also, he never does more than 3000 meters / workout. His training is perfectly tailor made for him. And he performs.

// O

Ooosc,
You seem to have a lot of inside info reg Stefan. Anything else you can reveal for the rest of us?
:notworthy:

JMiller
December 10th, 2007, 02:03 AM
Anyone like the description I provided of Nystrand's underwater mechanics?

Rob Copeland
December 10th, 2007, 09:49 AM
Anyone like the description I provided of Nystrand's underwater mechanics?Well, since you asked, I believe that you a way off base in your analysis of the propulsive force of Nystrand's kick

I do agree that the energy output required to produce effective forward motion with the kick is far greater than that needed to generate a similar speed pulling alone. However, today’s elite swimmers are trained to use both pulling and kicking to increase speed.

Just looking at the videos, I’d guess that Nystrand can kick 50 SCM in under 30 seconds. This is not a trivial propulsive force and does significantly increase his overall swimming speed.

“the energy saved in his legs can be used in the main propulsive engine, his arms.” The man is swimming for 22 seconds, there is no need to save energy for his arms. These are anaerobic swims, there is no saving energy from legs to use in arms.

The video analysis guru, is correct for races over a mile, but in today’s world, the kick is an important propulsive force in most every elite pool swimmer.

thewookiee
December 10th, 2007, 10:02 AM
Rob,


Since you weree at nationals...is it safe to say that sprinters are using more of a straight arm recovery for freestyle?

What are your thoughts on it? Good for all distances or mainly 50-200 free?

Does Natalie Coughlin use more of a straight arm recovery?

Rob Copeland
December 10th, 2007, 11:03 AM
There were a few swimmers using a straight arm recovery, nothing like Nystrand’s windmill. It appears that the straight arm swimmers have a slightly higher tempo than the traditional swimmers. Their hand speed on recovery is definitely faster and this may lead to a quicker hand speed on the pull. But I couldn’t say for certain.

I didn’t notice Coughlin using a straight arm recovery. What I did see is that of all the women, she was superior to the field in maintaining speed from dive to transition to swim, and then into and out of turns.

Lochte on the men’s side was also crushing all his walls, especially in the backstrokes where he beat the field by a yard or so on each turn. Very similar to Phelps’ fly and free turns.

My personal thought is that windmill and straight arm recovery can place a tremendous strain on the shoulders, however with the lower mileage volume and increased weight room work of modern sprinters (50-100), they can better handle this strain without as much risk of injury. Swimmers who train at a higher volume need to a more human physique friendly stroke.

thewookiee
December 10th, 2007, 11:20 AM
Thanks for the insight.

Ooosc
December 10th, 2007, 11:41 AM
Ooosc,
You seem to have a lot of inside info reg Stefan. Anything else you can reveal for the rest of us?
:notworthy:

No, some swedish friends told me about it only.

but his training is extremely scientific, with tests of all kinds. of his stroke, to measure power etc.. and lactac acid tests apparently. There are a bunch of videos of the details of his swimming out on youtube. so apparently he uses a lot of videoanalysis as well.

JMiller
December 10th, 2007, 01:02 PM
Sure, I'm really just trying to understand the mechanics...
To be totally honest, I don't know with absolute certainty
how Nystrand does what he does. (Good conversation starter though)

The kick is very important for maintaining body position, and in most cases the kick is an integral part of sprinting, without a doubt... The comment about the video analysis guru, was an error on my part... Actually, I spoke with him today, and obviously I misunderstood his comments from 10 years ago... he was speaking about relative propulsion from the kick in comparison to the arm cycle, fair enough... I still don't understand how Nystrand does what he does...

Again, I was just trying to understand this anomaly, this isn't something I personally subscribe to. In fact, without my kick I really wouldn't swim very well at all...

That is the whole idea behind this thread, to improve the kick...
http://forums.usms.org/showpost.php?p=115316&postcount=21

Happy Swimming,

strong440
December 10th, 2007, 08:29 PM
It's now late enough in the year for me to throw in my annual reminder of Doc Counsilman's definitive last word to all athletes.

"ALWAYS
ASSERT
ACCELERATI0N"

Whatever sport you watch. Whether it be baseball, basketball, rowing, soccer, football, and, of course, anykind of race, including swimming.

Rob Copeland
December 11th, 2007, 10:31 AM
Since you weree at nationals...is it safe to say that sprinters are using more of a straight arm recovery for freestyle?The USA Swimming webcast of the 50 at nationals can be seen at http://swimnetwork.com/index.php?d=1 . Check out the strokes. And see what the starts and walls do for Lochte, Coughlin and Phelps.

jonascolting
December 11th, 2007, 10:54 AM
One might also note that Stefan Nystrand isn´t only a fast sprint freestyler but also very accomplished over other distances. He, for instance, holds the Swedish records in both 50 SCM breaststroke with a 27.08 and the 100 IM with a 53.97.

At the recent Swedish SCM Nationals he also went a 50 fly on 22 some seconds in the relay as well as a 1.44 split in the 4x200 relay.

Hence, he´s got a magnificient and 21st century technique that somewhat throws old knowledge overboard, but also has developed specific physiological qualities through training.

Noteworthy is also that Therese Alshammar and Lars Frölander train closely to Stefan in Stockholm.

JMiller
December 11th, 2007, 01:04 PM
One might also note that Stefan Nystrand isn´t only a fast sprint freestyler but also very accomplished over other distances. He, for instance, holds the Swedish records in both 50 SCM breaststroke with a 27.08 and the 100 IM with a 53.97.

27.08 for 50 breast???!!!

Incredible... he should take the masters 25-29 50 breast WR of 27.69

That makes so much sense now that I watch his freestyle straight on video's... His pull does have that sort of single-arm in-sweep...

JMiller
December 11th, 2007, 01:07 PM
The USA Swimming webcast of the 50 at nationals can be seen at http://swimnetwork.com/index.php?d=1 . Check out the strokes. And see what the starts and walls do for Lochte, Coughlin and Phelps.

Rob,

Thank you kindly for that link... I thoroughly enjoyed my morning tea, while watching my favorite sport... (it's good to have a healthy network)

Jonathan

strong440
December 11th, 2007, 08:04 PM
It's now late enough in the year for me to throw in my annual reminder of Doc Counsilman's definitive last word to all athletes.

"ALWAYS
ASSERT
ACCELERATI0N"

Whatever sport you watch. Whether it be baseball, basketball, rowing, soccer, football, and, of course, anykind of race, including swimming.


I appologize. I almost got it right. The exacet quote should have been:

"ALWAYS
ACCENT
ACCELERATION"

JMiller
December 12th, 2007, 11:27 PM
The USA Swimming webcast of the 50 at nationals can be seen at http://swimnetwork.com/index.php?d=1 . Check out the strokes. And see what the starts and walls do for Lochte, Coughlin and Phelps.


After watching the 200 IM again I was a little amused by the reaction from Lochte... He seemed disappointed with the 1:40.08... Quote. "Well I wanted to be under 1:40"

I suppose there's not really much to say, but I would have loved to interview him post race...

Superfly
December 14th, 2007, 07:25 AM
Stefan won the 50 SCM European Championship relatively easy yesterday (as easy as a 50 free final can get that is) untapered and unshaved (I guess some of the form from the world cup are still there)

Time 21.11

impressive guy!!!

tomorrow, saturday is the 100 m free...

JMiller
December 15th, 2007, 10:24 PM
After watching the 200 IM again I was a little amused by the reaction from Lochte... He seemed disappointed with the 1:40.08... Quote. "Well I wanted to be under 1:40"

I suppose there's not really much to say, but I would have loved to interview him post race...


I didn't really get a reaction/response out of anyone from this post, so I figure I'll just say what I was thinking at the time when I watched the post-race interview..."

Me - "Whoa, 1:40.08 for 200 IM SCY, way to go MAN!!"

Lochte - "Ya, well I wanted to be under 1:40"

Me - "Under 1:40?? Come on now, you're the fastest in all history, you're the fastest that ever was... give me something, a smile, a chuckle, you know man?"

Lochte - "ya, the 50 free is next."

Me - "Okay, the vast majority of people, who don't swim, might be watching you race... They could have a bathtub showdown with you doing the 200 IM and they'll be doing 8 lengths of the tub; you'd still win.

I'd be in the tub thinking, hmmm should I do a hand touch or a flip turn, or maybe I should take a breather at the half-way mark, you know, I've preparing for this race since... yesterday. You'd be standing there saying, hmmmm I could have gone 1:39!!"

:applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::appl aud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud:: applaud:

The Fortress
January 29th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Interesting article on straight arm freestyle from The Race Club site:

The Straight-Arm Freestyle Recovery
By Gary Hall, Sr.

Recently, I was watching a video telecast on the Web of the World Cup meet in Berlin, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the Race Club swimmers competing in the 100 m Freestyle. Mostly, I was captivated by the swim of Stefan Nystrand of Sweden, who dominated an impressive field of sprinters, and did so with a straight-arm recovery.

The straight-arm recovery in Freestyle is not new. I am not sure who was the first to use it, but in my memory bank, which has a rather small deposit, Janet Evans comes to mind. Others have succeeded using it as well….Kristen Otto (plus steroids), Inge de Bruijn, Michael Klim, just to name a few.

The straight-arm recovery is not pretty. In fact, it looks down right strange….but, then again, how much time gets deducted for a pretty stroke? Zippo. The question is…”will it make you swim faster?”

Science and logic would seem to support a “yes” response. Why? Well, the arm has weight to it, perhaps 5,6 or 7 pounds. I’m guessing, as I have never lopped one off to weigh it. Even though more of the arm’s weight is at the proximal end (near the shoulder) than the distal end (near the hand), our recovery requires that we swing the arm back to the front to be in the position for another pull. This can be done with the arm swung either to the side or straight over the top and with the elbow either bent or locked (straight arm).

There are two primary objectives of the arm recovery. The first is to put the arm back in the position for the strongest underwater power or pull as fast as possible. The second is to transfer as much energy or inertia from the arm to the body as possible. By transferring this arm energy to the body, we help to continue to propel the body through the water.

Bending the elbow on the freestyle recovery might give us a slight advantage on the first objective. Since it shortens the distance that the hand needs to travel it likely allows one to get the hand back into the power position slightly faster than with a straight arm. I am speculating here because I have never actually timed it. However, with the second objective, a straight-arm recovery has a clear advantage over the bent elbow and allows more transfer of energy to the body.

The transfer of energy from the arm to the body depends on several factors. One is distance. The further the weight is away from the body, the better. A second is speed. The faster the weight is swung, the better.

Consider a discus thrower. Although he transfers his body’s energy to the discus, he does so by extending the discus as far out as the arm will allow and by generating as much speed of the discuss as possible before it is released. The more body weight and the faster the speed, the further the discus will fly; more energy transferred.

Imagine if, instead of arms, you had ropes attached to your shoulders with a five-pound weight attached to each rope. If you wanted to transfer as much of the weight’s energy to your body, you would swing the weight with the rope fully extended as fast as possible and would stop the swing with the arm in the horizontal position in front of you…just like casting a fishing pole with a lead weight on it. In that fashion, the maximum amount of energy will “pull” your body, since there is no more line to let out. Further, just like in casting, you would want to swing the arms directly over the top, not around the side, so the energy will propel your body forward instead of to the side. This is the effect of the straight-arm recovery.

Think about backstroke. You wouldn’t dare consider a bent-arm recovery in backstroke (I think Adolph Kiefer may have been the last to do that in the 36 Olympics). Try it sometime and you will see what I mean. So if straight-arm works so much better for backstroke, why not in freestyle?

There are two reasons I can think of. The first is that it doesn’t feel natural. Few have even tried it. It is not the way we were taught how to swim freestyle, so why change? I have not yet tried a straight-arm recovery in competition, but I can already tell it makes me faster in practice. It also makes me swim with what Mike Bottom calls the “shoulder driven” freestyle stroke. The second is that the shoulder joint does not extend (move rearward) as easily as it flexes (moves forward). So to recover with a straight arm directly over the top in freestyle means that the entire body needs to rotate from side to side. Yet this is a good thing. In other words, by using a high, straight-arm recovery, we are forced into more shoulder rotation and consequently, more hip rotation, which also helps propel us forward.

So if straight-arm recovery is that good, why doesn’t everyone use it? First, it takes more work to do it properly. Rotating those shoulders and hips in practice is not easy. Some just don’t have the flexibility they need to do it and trying repeatedly could impinge the shoulder and cause pain. And like anything else, it takes practice. For me, it felt very strange for over a week. Now, I really like the feeling of the straight-arm recovery and can sense the energy transferring with every stroke.

The straight-arm freestyle recovery is not for everyone, but it might work for you. Just remember not to turn your arms over like a slow, revolving windmill in Holland or a rotisserie chicken. You have to whip those babies over the top like you mean it. Extend the shoulder. And as far as that delicate hand entry into the water, forget it. Of course, when sprinting the hand needs to be in the position for an immediate catch, but great swimmers find a way to grab hold of the water.

If you’re still not sure you get it, come down here to a Race Club camp and let me show you how. You see, I can teach young or old dogs how to do new tricks.

mermaid
January 29th, 2008, 10:55 PM
ditto for me sans invite Fort.

mikeh
April 6th, 2012, 07:48 PM
Very interesting thread, and fascinating film clip of Stefan Nystrand. Strange stroke but no doubt he moves faster than all but a few in the world.