Influence of stroke rate on coordination and sprint performance in elite male and female swimmers

David Simbaña-Escobar, Philippe Hellard, Ludovic Seifert
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2020 July 31
This study investigated the effects of gender and the manipulation of the preferred stroke rate on swimming performance and arm coordination in elite front crawl swimmers. Nineteen swimmers performed a dual task, i.e. imposed stroke rate and maximal speed. They swam nine 25-m trials at maximal speed twice: one trial at the preferential stroke rate, one trial at maximal stroke rate and seven trials at stroke rates between 41 and 59 cycles.min-1 imposed by an Aquapacer. Stroke rate, arm stroke phases and arm coordination were computed from an inertial measurement unit on each forearm and one on the sacrum. Time on the 25-m was recorded to assess swimming speed. Results indicated that the error between the imposed and performed stroke rates was lowest at the preferred stroke rate for women. An increase in stroke rate led to an increase in swimming speed and the index of coordination, but these changes could be influenced by the preferred stroke rate. Individual analysis revealed that some swimmers exhibited higher flexibility (larger range of stroke rate) around their preferred stroke rate. This stroke rate flexibility appeared more functional in swimmers who reached higher speeds when swimming at the maximal stroke rate than at the preferred stroke rate.

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