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Thread: Body proportion and swimming advantage

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    Body proportion and swimming advantage

    What kind of body proportion is good for swimming? When one stands upright, a short torso and long legs are better proportion. Is the opposite true for swimming? Long torso is good for swimming, but seems long legs, too?

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    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Long everything is good for swimming. Look at the best. They all have long torsos, long legs, and super long arms. Michael Phelps even has long feet. And the only part that should be wide is the shoulders.

    Breast strokers get away with out having to be so long, though.

    I have proportionately long limbs and wide shoulders but am too thick about the trunk. Of course, some of that is due to my affinity for beer and burgers, and I like to think that gives me a competitve advantage in open water swimming when the water gets cold. Of course, I got run over by some thinner people at the Big Shoulders this year.

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    Very Active Member swimmj's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Long axis swimmers (back and free) are more likely to be long legged. Short axis swimmers (fly and breast) are often have longer torsos, and are not quite so tall overall. General rule, many exceptions exist.

    It's good to be taller in general, however best to be very effective in the water.

    --mj

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    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Don't get too wrapped up in what's ideal. There are many stereotype busters. At 5'4", I am always one of the shortest swimmers at meets, and I cannot do the evil stroke whatsoever. I make up for it in flexibility and strength.

    mj put it best -- good to be tall, better to be efficient.

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    Very Active Member elise526's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    One thing that I can tell you DOES NOT help is being small-boned or medium-boned for your height. If the part of your arm from your wrist to your elbow is small, you have a much smaller "paddle" with which to pull yourself through the water. Also, if you have small feet for your height, that makes your fin smaller - a women's size 8 narrow foot on my almost 5'10" height does not give me any advantage whatsoever.

    The only thing I'm blessed with for swimming is good core strength.
    Last edited by elise526; November 26th, 2008 at 12:23 AM.

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    Active Member Mookie's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    The evil stroke? Which one is evil for you? For me, fly is technically easy but hard endurance wise. Back stroke, I drown. Breast and Free, easy.

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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Does anyone know the shortest Olympian or World champion swimmer? What is the height?

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    While there have been shorter swimmers in the past,I'd guess the shortest current WR holder among men is Kitajima at 5'8".
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Bigger than a breadbox mattson's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    I remember on my college team, we had one 200 flyer who looked like the prototype flyer (muscular, big shoulders), the other was a short skinny kid.

    They both had great flexibility and technique (efficiency). I'd say that is the common factor.

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    Very Active Member Shaman's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage


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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Ok, that's 5'8". Also it's said Janet Evans is 5'6". Anyone shorter?

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    Distance Man tjrpatt's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Quote Originally Posted by mattson View Post
    I remember on my college team, we had one 200 flyer who looked like the prototype flyer (muscular, big shoulders), the other was a short skinny kid.

    They both had great flexibility and technique (efficiency). I'd say that is the common factor.
    The body type for 200 flyer always seems to change(within the last 16 years). Mel Stewart looked like the prototype butterflyer and then you had Tom Malchow with his tall skinny frame. Phelps is sort on the Malchow line of 200 butterflyers but more muscular. Back in the day(Mid 1990s), I felt that I was more in line with the Stewart line of 200 butterflyers. When Malchow came unto the scene, the Stewart line was out like the cherry curl. With Stovall coming to the scene, maybe there is a resurgence of the prototype 200 flyer.

    Side note: I am in no way comparing what I look like today as the prototype 200 flyer. I am look more of a prototype football Middle Linebacker.

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    Very Active Member elise526's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Angel Martino, a captain of the U.S.women's swim team at the 1996 Olympics and triple gold medalist, is 5'4."

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    Distance Man tjrpatt's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    From what I seen, it really doesn't matter what body type women are. I trained with a bulky backstroker and a very skinny backstroke, both made Senior National Cuts. I trained with a short breatstrokers and tall breaststroker, both of whom made at least Junior National cuts. The tall one made the NCAA Div I champs. I am sure that the little breaststroker wasn't too happy about that one. Look at Janet Evans, she was this little thing in 1988 beating the crap out of those East German Women.

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Kitajima was 5'8" in 2004.Did he grow or is this the typical exaggeration of most "official" sports personnel height?
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Very Active Member aquaFeisty's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    I remember reading somewhere that Brian Goodell was the last male freestyler under 6 ft tall to hold a world record, at any distance (freestyle only).

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Quote Originally Posted by swimmj View Post
    It's good to be taller in general, however best to be very effective in the water.
    --mj
    I think this is the right viewpoint and I think the other comments around length being more of an advantage in long axis strokes also holds true. I'm tall (6'4") and am always reminded of how much height CAN be an advantage when I show up to a Nationals meet and see guys my size or bigger. In my day-to-day life outside of the pool, I rarely look people in the eye ... in the last heats of my freestyle events, I'm almost always looking people in the eye (or up to guys like Tall Paul).

    Some ballpark stats from the current roster of 35 guys on the Texas men's swim team (I excluded the divers):

    • Only 3 under 6 feet ... and they're each listed as 5'10
    • Average height of 6'2"
    • Max height of 6'7"
    • Upper quartile is 6'4"

    I bet if you pulled down stats from most of the Top 10 Division I teams, you'd see relatively similar numbers.

    With that said, I have been constantly beaten throughout my swimming life by guys who are shorter to much shorter than me. For some reason, that bugs me more than getting beaten by someone taller than me.

    There are so many more factors at play ...

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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Quote Originally Posted by pwbrundage View Post
    In my day-to-day life outside of the pool, I rarely look people in the eye ...
    Does being too tall give one a kind of loneliness that other people don't experience?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Body proportion and swimming advantage

    Quote Originally Posted by nhc View Post
    Does being too tall give one a kind of loneliness that other people don't experience?
    Never thought of it that way, but that might explain a lot

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