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Hugues Leblanc, Ludovic Seifert and Didier Chollet

This study is aimed at examining the relationships between floatation parameters, assessed by field tests and the stroking characteristics of breaststroke swimmers. The floatation parameters were evaluated for 23 males and 23 females by the hydrostatic lift test, the sinking force acting at the ankle test and the maximal glide length after a push-off from the pool wall test. The swimmers performed two trials at submaximal and sprint pace, and then, from the data given by a PC-video velocity system, the duration and velocity of their propulsive, recovery and glide phases were analyzed. In the female group and at slow pace, glide duration is correlated with hydrostatic lift (r = .62) and with maximal glide length (r = .44); mean glide velocity is correlated with hydrostatic lift (r = .73). In the male group and at slow pace, the sinking force was correlated with the glide phase (r = –0.66) and with the mean glide velocity (r = –0.78). At sprint velocity, the hydrostatic lift is correlated with the glide phase in the female group (r = .52). Floatation parameters have an impact on the gliding phase of the breaststroke cycle.

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David Simbaña Escobar, Philippe Hellard, David B. Pyne and Ludovic Seifert

To study the variability in stroking parameters between and within laps and individuals during competitions, we compared and modeled the changes of speed, stroke rate, and stroke length in 32 top-level male and female swimmers over 4 laps (L1–L4) in 200-m freestyle events using video-derived 2-dimensional direct linear transformation. For the whole group, speed was greater in L1, with significant decreases across L2, L3, and L4 (1.80 ± 0.10 vs 1.73 ± 0.08; 1.69 ± 0.09; 1.66 ± 0.09  · s−1, P < .05). This variability was attributed to a decrease in stroke length (L2: 2.43 ± 0.19 vs L4: 2.20 ± 0.13 m, P < .05) and an increase in stroke rate (L2: 42.8 ± 2.6 vs L4: 45.4 ± 2.3 stroke · min−1, P < .05). The coefficient of variation and the biological coefficient of variation in speed were greater for male versus female (3.9 ± 0.7 vs 3.1 ± 0.7; 2.9 ± 1.0 vs 2.6 ± 0.7, P < .05) and higher in L1 versus L2 (3.9 ± 1.3 vs 3.1 ± 0.1; 2.9 ± 0.9 vs 2.3 ± 0.7, P < .05). Intra-lap speed values were best represented by a cubic (n = 38), then linear (n = 37) and quadratic model (n = 8). The cubic fit was more frequent for males (43.8%) than females (15.6%), suggesting greater capacity to generate higher acceleration after the turn. The various stroking parameters managements within lap suggest that each swimmer adapts his/her behavior to the race constraints.

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John Komar, Ross H. Sanders, Didier Chollet and Ludovic Seifert

This study compared interlimb coordination and indicators of swim efficiency and effectiveness between expert and recreational breaststroke swimmers. Arm-leg coordination of 8 expert and 10 recreational swimmers at two different paces, slow and sprint, were compared using relative phase between elbow and knee. For each participant, knee and elbow angles were assessed using a 3-dimensional video analysis system with four below and two above cameras. During each phase of the cycle, indicators of swim efficiency (intracyclic velocity variations) and effectiveness (horizontal distance, velocity peaks, acceleration peaks) were calculated. Two coordination patterns emerged between expert and recreational swimmers, with significant differences in the relative phase at the beginning of a cycle (−172.4° for experts and −106.6° for recreational swimmers) and the maximum value of relative phase (9.1° for experts and 45.9° for recreational swimmers; all P < .05). Experts’ coordination was associated with higher swim effectiveness (higher acceleration peak: 2.4 m/s2 for experts and 1.6 m/s2 for recreational swimmers) and higher distance covered by the center of mass during each phase of the cycle (all P < .05). This study emphasized how experts coordinate arms and legs to achieve effective behavior, therefore exhibiting flexibility, mainly in the timing of the glide phase, to adapt to different speed.

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Perrine Brétigny, Ludovic Seifert, David Leroy and Didier Chollet

The aim of this study was to compare the upper-limb kinematics and coordination of the short grip and classic drives in field hockey. Ten elite female players participated in the experiment. The VICON system was used to record the displacement of markers placed on the stick and the players’ joints during five short grip and five classic drives. Kinematic and coordination parameters were analyzed. The ball’s velocity was recorded by a radar device that also served as the drive target. Kinematic differences were noted between the two drive conditions, with shorter duration and smaller overall amplitude in the short grip drive, explained by the shorter lever arm and the specific context in which it is used. No differences were noted for upper-limb coordination. In both types of stick holding, an interlimb dissociation was noted on the left side, whereas the right interlimb coordination was in phase. Moreover, the time lag increased in the disto-proximal direction, suggesting wrist uncocking before impact and the initiation of descent motion by the left shoulder. Mediolateral analysis confirmed these results: coordination of left-right limbs converged at the wrist but dissociated with more proximal joints (elbows and shoulders).

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Ana F. Silva, Pedro Figueiredo, Sara Morais, João P. Vilas-Boas, Ricardo J. Fernandes and Ludovic Seifert

This study aimed to examine young swimmers’ behavioral flexibility when facing different task constraints, such as swimming speed and stroke frequency. Eighteen (five boys and 13 girls) 13- to 15-year-old swimmers performed a 15 × 50-m front crawl with five trials, at 100%, 90%, and 70% each of their 50 m maximal swimming speed and randomly at 90%, 95%, 100%, 105%, and 110% of their preferred stroke frequency. Seven aerial and six underwater cameras were used to assess kinematics (one cycle), with upper-limb coordination computed through a continuous relative phase and index of coordination. A cluster analysis identified six patterns of coordination used by swimmers when facing various speed and stroke frequency constraints. The patterns’ nature and the way the swimmers shifted between them are more important than getting the highest number of patterns (range of repertoire), that is, a change in the motor pattern in order to adapt correctly is more important than being able to execute a great number of patterns.

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Brice Guignard, Annie Rouard, Didier Chollet, Marco Bonifazi, Dario Dalla Vedova, John Hart and Ludovic Seifert

Swimming is a challenging locomotion, involving the coordination of upper and lower limbs to propel the body forward in a highly resistive aquatic environment. During front crawl, freestyle stroke, alternating rotational motion of the upper limbs above and below the waterline, is coordinated with alternating lower limb pendulum actions. The aim of this study was to investigate the upper to lower limbs coordination dynamics of eight male elite front crawlers while increasing swimming speed and disturbing the aquatic environment (i.e., pool vs. flume). Upper to lower limb frequency ratios, coordination, coupling strength, and asymmetry were computed from data collected by inertial measurement units. Significant speed effect was observed, leading to transitions from 1∶1 to 1∶3 frequency ratios (1∶3 overrepresented), whereas 1∶2 frequency ratio was rarely used. Flume swimming led to a significant lower coupling strength at low speeds and higher asymmetries, especially at the highest speeds, probably related to the flume dynamic environment.

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Jorge E. Morais, António J. Silva, Daniel A. Marinho, Ludovic Seifert and Tiago M. Barbosa

Purpose:

To apply a new method to identify, classify, and follow up young swimmers based on their performance and its determinant factors over a season and analyze the swimmers’ stability over a competitive season with that method.

Methods:

Fifteen boys and 18 girls (11.8 ± 0.7 y) part of a national talent-identification scheme were evaluated at 3 different moments of a competitive season. Performance (ie, official 100-m freestyle race time), arm span, chest perimeter, stroke length, swimming velocity, speed fluctuation, coefficient of active drag, propelling efficiency, and stroke index were selected as variables. Hierarchical and k-means cluster analysis were computed.

Results:

Data suggested a 3-cluster solution, splitting the swimmers according to their performance in all 3 moments. Cluster 1 was related to better performances (talented swimmers), cluster 2 to poor performances (nonproficient swimmers), and cluster 3 to average performance (proficient swimmers) in all moments. Stepwise discriminant analysis revealed that 100%, 94%, and 85% of original groups were correctly classified for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd evaluation moments, respectively (0.11 ≤ Λ ≤ 0.80; 5.64 ≤ χ2 ≤ 63.40; 0.001 < P ≤ .68). Membership of clusters was moderately stable over the season (stability range 46.1–75% for the 2 clusters with most subjects).

Conclusion:

Cluster stability is a feasible, comprehensive, and informative method to gain insight into changes in performance and its determinant factors in young swimmers. Talented swimmers were characterized by anthropometrics and kinematic features.

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Ludovic Seifert, Dominic Orth, Jérémie Boulanger, Vladislavs Dovgalecs, Romain Hérault and Keith Davids

This study investigated a new performance indicator to assess climbing fluency (smoothness of the hip trajectory and orientation of a climber using normalized jerk coefficients) to explore effects of practice and hold design on performance. Eight experienced climbers completed four repetitions of two, 10-m high routes with similar difficulty levels, but varying in hold graspability (holds with one edge vs holds with two edges). An inertial measurement unit was attached to the hips of each climber to collect 3D acceleration and 3D orientation data to compute jerk coefficients. Results showed high correlations (r = .99, P < .05) between the normalized jerk coefficient of hip trajectory and orientation. Results showed higher normalized jerk coefficients for the route with two graspable edges, perhaps due to more complex route finding and action regulation behaviors. This effect decreased with practice. Jerk coefficient of hip trajectory and orientation could be a useful indicator of climbing fluency for coaches as its computation takes into account both spatial and temporal parameters (ie, changes in both climbing trajectory and time to travel this trajectory).

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Ana Silva, Pedro Figueiredo, Susana Soares, Ludovic Seifert, João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Our aim was to characterize front crawl swimming performed at very high intensity by young practitioners. 114 swimmers 11–13 years old performed 25 m front crawl swimming at 50 m pace. Two underwater cameras was used to assess general biomechanical parameters (velocity, stroke rate, stroke length and stroke index) and interarm coordination (Index of Coordination), being also identified each front crawl stroke phase. Swimmers presented lower values in all biomechanical parameters than data presented in studies conducted with older swimmers, having the postpubertal group closest values to adult literature due to their superior anthropometric and maturational characteristics. Boys showed higher velocity and stroke index than girls (as reported for elite swimmers), but higher stroke rate than girls (in opposition to what is described for adults). In addition, when considering the total sample, a higher relationship was observed between velocity and stroke length (than with stroke rate), indicating that improving stroke length is a fundamental skill to develop in these ages. Furthermore, only catch-up coordination mode was adopted (being evident a lag time between propulsion of the arms), and the catch and the pull phases presented the highest and smallest durations, respectively.

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Ana F. Silva, Pedro Figueiredo, João Ribeiro, Francisco Alves, João Paulo Vilas-Boas, Ludovic Seifert and Ricardo J. Fernandes

To analyze young swimmers’ performance regarding sex and skill level, 23 boys and 26 girls (15.7 ± 0.8 and 14.5 ± 0.8 years old, respectively) were assessed for anthropometry, flexibility, strength, drag, coordination, and biomechanical variables. During a 50-m maximal front-crawl bout, seven aerial and six underwater Qualisys cameras assessed kinematics, and a load cell was used to measure drag (Tedea, United Kingdom) and tethered swimming force. A multivariate analysis of variance test (p < .05) enabled us to observe differences between skill levels in speed, stroke frequency, stroke index, and intracyclic velocity variations, but most relevant differences were noticed when comparing sexes, particularly for anthropometrics, shoulder flexibility, speed, stroke frequency, stroke length, drag, mechanical power, power per stroke, and maximal and mean force. Considering the included variables, only male swimmers’ performance could be predicted through multiple linear regression, with stroke index, left shoulder flexion, and intracycle velocity variations showing great importance in achieving better results.