The Post read:
I was intrigued looking at Russell Mark's analysis of the men's 200 breaststroke at D1 NCAA and was reminded of why we go crazy trying to teach good breaststroke technique.
With a 3 second difference in times between 1st place and 8th place, there was a difference of stroke count from 35 (lowest) to 60 (highest) and Cycle Time (please don't call this tempo or stroke rate) of 1.0 to 1.8 seconds. In other words, stroke rates and DPS are all over the map.
So how do we find/teach the ideal SR in breaststroke?
The following four metrics are really the only ones that matter in breaststroke and (other than the specific event) largely determine what breaststroke SR the swimmer should use:
- Kick Propulsion. this is by far the most important metric. There are actually 3 potential propulsions from each kick, not one. The second (from squeezing the legs into the body vortex) and third (lifting the legs and feet into the body vortex) are what I call the 'afterburners'. Not only do they help get some propulsion but help reduce drag and retain speed by getting the legs and feet out of harm's way.
- Kick Cycle Time. this is the time from peak propulsion from the pull to peak propulsion from the kick. The times range from about .47 seconds (Adam Peaty, Lilly King, Rebecca Soni, Shymanovich etc) to over .7 seconds. Because of the extreme sensitivity of timing of the coupling of upper body and head with peak propulsion from the kick, Power Breaststroke technique (Peaty, King etc) is only possible with a fast KCT of around .5 seconds or less.
- Retention of the swimmer's speed after the peak velocity from the kick. This is basically a measurement of the swimmer's streamline (holding line) at the front end (arms and head) and back end (legs and feet). More velocity is usually lost from the back end than the front end. The afterburner propulsion also helps the swimmer to hold on to their speed. Ideal loss is 18-28%....but I often find losses of over 50%.
- Pull propulsion. While breaststroke is a very kick-dependent stroke, the pull still matters. The peak velocity achieved from the pull is influenced by the swimmer's strength, pulling motion (wider is better than narrow) and coupling motions (elevation of upper body and shoulders). Whatever the velocity achieved from the pull, it is short-lived in all swimmers, as the velocity goes to zero in all breaststrokers as a result of lifting up the shoulders and drawing the thighs forward...worst drag positions imaginable.
That is right...all swimmers go to zero speed. They become buoys for some (hopefully short) period of time.
The KCT determines how long they are buoys.
Measuring all four of these metrics precisely is not really doable from the deck, but we can measure all four of these using Velocity Meter and Smart Paddle technology.
Just spoke to Mel Marshall a few weeks and hope to get Adam (Peaty) over here for testing sometime. Right now, among men, he is the gold standard for power breaststroke technique. Would love to know what his four key metrics are.