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Thread: Underwater kicking and height

  1. #1
    Very Active Member rtodd's Avatar
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    Underwater kicking and height

    http://http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=0&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en &ItemId=5329&mid=11510

    So I read this and the study did not take into account physiology, or more specifically height when measuring underwater kicking performance.

    I would be curious if shorter swimmers can underwater kick as fast or faster than taller swimmers and if they should work to exploit this more than the typical effort given to underwater kicking.
    Last edited by rtodd; January 22nd, 2014 at 07:06 PM.

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    Farewell Lily smontanaro's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Quote Originally Posted by rtodd View Post
    I would be curious if shorter swimmers can underwater kick as fast or faster than taller swimmers and if they should work to exploit this more than the typical effort given to underwater kicking.
    I believe Fortress said this is one of the reasons she focuses on underwater technique. I'm guessing she might have a reference or two to back up that stance.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Taller swimmers have less wave drag at any given swimming speed,so they have an advantage at the surface.Underwater you shouldn't generate surface waves and height is a negligible factor.
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    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Didn't Misty Hyman refer to this issue in her interview in the current Swimmer, noting how the 15-meter rule favored tall swimmers more than shorter swimmers who might benefit more from the opportunity to SDK farther?

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    I have my own opinion on this topic, not just because I suck at kicking under the surface, but from basic physics. Firstly I believe UW streamlining comes from the ability to flex, bend and hold yourself in that position. The major benefit taller swimmers have here, is reaching the destination sooner with height. But the ability to glide efficiently in streamlined position is one thing, being able to carry momentum and propel oneself under the surface (and at a faster speed than at the surface) is another. To do this with undulating kicks UW I believe, partly requires natural talent from genes (i.e., large feet, ankle flexibility, and relatively shorter legs), where shorter legs allow greater backward facing leverage of the propulsive surface on top of the feet, but with less frontal drag than someone with longer legs, who would have to increase kick amplitude (drag) to achieve same leverage. What do you think, am I right?

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    UW I believe, partly requires natural talent from genes (i.e., large feet, ankle flexibility, and relatively shorter legs)
    Don't forget hip and back flexibility. Look at that photo of Misty Hyman. I can pretty much guarantee you I've never come anywhere close to having that kind of lordosis in my spine.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    I think it's a lot to do with each of our flexibility -yes. I am older & have always been more flexible than others my age.

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    Very Active Member rtodd's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    I don't think Hyman specifically stated UW kicking favored short swimmers. I will have to re read. Interesting thoughts about leg length. Was first sorting out height, before thinking of leg length.

    Is there data or respected opinion that shows shorter swimmers can exploit UW kicking?

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    Very Active Member Beards247's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Thanks for posting, good read and still working on digesting this one - Love that you and others post research(esque, as the article humbly points out).

    Putting my uneducated, unqualified .02 in, if you look at who is known for underwater ability it isn't the exclusive domain of tall swimmers. I'd say superior flexibility and dedication to the skill set are bigger factors than height.
    I ain't as good as I once was
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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Quote Originally Posted by orca1946 View Post
    I think it's a lot to do with each of our flexibility -yes. I am older & have always been more flexible than others my age.
    Orca's are also some of the quickest accelerating mammals in the water, and though they may be quite tall (or long), their legs are very short.

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    Very Active Member quicksilver's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Nick Thoman's coach had mentioned that taller swimmers have difficulty staying *connected* to their underwater kicks as compared to shorter athletes. Not sure why, but he says that Nick takes advantage of u/w kicking with his shorter height.

    Interesting that he and Matt Grevers both went :44 for the 100 scy back this year. And Grevers is a giant in comparison.


  12. #12
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Quote Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
    Nick Thoman's coach had mentioned that taller swimmers have difficulty staying *connected* to their underwater kicks as compared to shorter athletes. Not sure why, but he says that Nick takes advantage of u/w kicking with his shorter height.

    Interesting that he and Matt Grevers both went :44 for the 100 scy back this year. And Grevers is a giant in comparison.

    I remember seeing this! Also compare Cindy Tran (short 2x NCAA winner in 100 back, great UWs) or Natalie Coughlin with Missy Franklin (tall with sub par UWs).

    At 5'4", I'm pretty short for a swimmer. I was a gymnast when young, so very flexy. My times have been improving since adding more UW kicks (even in free -- I take 12 SDKs off the start of the 50 free). I agree with Allen's point above: tall swimmers have the advantage on the surface, but that advantage is erased UW.

    I also agree with Misty about the 15 meter rule taking away a weapon. I wouldn't go crazy and stay under forever, but I'm not decelerating at 15 meters so wouldn't mind a few more kicks, especially in long course.

    Oh, I don't have particularly short legs or big feet.

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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Phelps is 6'4" and his underwaters were pretty good as I recall.

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    Very Active Member ekw's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy View Post
    Phelps is 6'4" and his underwaters were pretty good as I recall.
    According to a DVD about his performance in the Olympics in 2008, Phelps is both perfectly tall and perfectly short. His torso and wingspan are long, but he's got relatively short legs. If I recall correctly, his torso is that of someone about 6'7" and his legs of someone about 6'. (My memory on this seems decent, based on a quick Googling: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/200...helps-olympics)
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    Active Member habu987's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    At a much, much lower level of performance than the Thomans and Phelps out there, I can anecdotally attest to the ease of shorter swimmers at SDK. I'm 5'9" and usually have some of the best underwaters at meets, and have the best at practice. At the bigger meets, I'm usually one of the shortest in my heat, if not the shortest. Relatively speaking, I've got a long torso and shorter legs. One of my teammates is 6'1" with a shorter torso and longer legs. We swam the 100 back next to each other a few weeks ago and I crushed him underwater. He made up ground on the surface, but I definitely had an advantage underwater, even with both of us taking about the same number of kicks off each wall.
    Last edited by habu987; January 29th, 2014 at 01:14 PM.

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    I think it is less related to torso to leg length ratio, as it is to lower body power to leg length ratio.

    I recently did a quick poor-man's experiment which involved wall pushed, 25 free efforts at 95% every 1:00. I alternated through SDK's, flutter kick, and no kick at all, to breakout and observed the times. The push-off glide swims were consistently faster (and use less energy) than both the flutter and SDK's (which were about equal).

    My lower body strength is relatively weak (and long), which probably make me a non SDK'er, though I can glide fairly decent.
    Last edited by __steve__; January 29th, 2014 at 06:58 PM.

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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    My 12 year old is tiny, not yet 5 feet tall, and 80 pounds or so. Breaststroke has always been her best event. At the start after her single dolphin kick and pull down she is always in the lead. Then the tall 11-12 year old girls do(SCY) 9 or 10 strokes to her 15 and beat her, but at the wall she gains on them again. This probably explains why she does so much better in short course than long course against the same girls.

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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    This is the fastest 50 LCM SDK I've ever seen or heard of

    Hill Taylor is about 5'10"

  19. #19
    Very Active Member rtodd's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater kicking and height

    Amazing. There is also his 47 sec 100scy kick out there somewhere. What is Taylor's height?

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