Article Three

                               Youngquist, C., D’Acquisto, L.J., Nethery, V.  Exercise Science Laboratory,
                                 PEHLS, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.  98926

The purpose of this project was to assess stroking characteristics in freestyle (FRS) finalists (50, 100, 200 & 500 yards, n=32/event) participating in a mens high school swimming state championship meet.  Stroking characteristics for the top 16 (TP) and bottom 16 (BP) performers  were investigated.  Five video cameras were strategically mounted in the stands to obtain an unobstructed view of the lanes. Whole & mid pool swimming velocity (WPV & MPV; m.s-1),  and stroke rate (SR; stk.min-1) for each 25-yd length were determined from pool side electronic timing, and video tape analysis, respectively. SR was divided into MPV to yield mid-pool distance per stroke (m.stk-1, MPDS).  Results showed: (1) Despite event, both WPV and MPV were greater in TP and tended to decrease throughout the race for both groups (p<0.05); (2) 50 &100 FRS: SR was the same  and declined throughout the race (p<0.05) for both performance groups.  MPDS for TP tended to be greater in the 50 (p=0.10) and 100 (p=0.06) FRS; (3) 200 FRS: MPDS tended to be greater for TP, and decreased throughout the race for both groups (p<0.05).  SR decreased for both groups during the first half of the race (p<0.05), but, the TP swimmers increased SR (p<0.05) throughout the second half of the race; (4) 500 FRS: MPDS decreased (p<0.05) for both groups throughout the first 200 yards.  Also, MPDS tended to be greater for TP throughout the race.  SR for both groups decreased during the first 100 yards (p<0.05), and was maintained for the remainder of the race. Overall, the TP swimmers had a tendency to maintain a greater SR.  In summary, the profile of race velocity and stroke rate for the 50 and 100 yard freestyle suggests that as fatigue developed (decrease velocity & SR) the top performers were able to compensate by sustaining an overall greater distance per stroke. Although distance per stroke is an important attribute of faster freestyle swimmers,  findings from the 200 and 500 freestyle show that stroke rate cannot be neglected.  Interestingly, swimmers in this project had similar stroke rates but lower distance per stroke values compared to world class freestyle swimmers (Maglischo,1993). Results of this project suggest that  coaches should aim to enhance distance per stroke while preserving stroke rate.