Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 304 - 314

Research article
An Approach to Identifying the Effect of Technique Asymmetries on Body Alignment in Swimming Exemplified by a Case Study of a Breaststroke Swimmer
Ross H. Sanders1,2, , Malcolm M. Fairweather3, Alison Alcock3, Carla B. McCabe2,4
Author Information
1 Exercise and Sport Science, FHS, The University of Sydney, Australia
2 Centre of Aquatics Research and Education, SPEHS, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Sportscotland Institute of Sport, Stirling
4 School of Sport, Ulster University, Jordanstown, UK

Ross H. Sanders
✉ Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Cumberland Campus, 75 East St (PO Box 170), Lidcombe, NSW, 1825, Australia
Publish Date
Received: 26-05-2014
Accepted: 03-02-2015
Published (online): 01-06-2015
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Despite the importance of maintaining good alignment to minimize resistive drag in swimming there is a paucity of literature relating to the effect of technique asymmetries on rotations of the body about a vertical axis (yaw). The purpose of this paper was to present an approach to analyzing the effect of technique asymmetries on rotations in swimming, exemplifying the process with a case study of a breaststroke swimmer. The kinematics and angular kinetics of an elite female international breaststroke swimmer performing a ‘fatigue set’ of four 100m swims were derived from digitized three-dimensional video data using a 13 segment body model. Personalised anthropometric data required to quantify accurately segment and whole body centres of mass and segmental angular momentum were obtained by the elliptical zone method. Five episodes of torques producing yaw occurred in the stroke cycle sampled for each 100m swim of this swimmer. These torques were linked to bilateral differences in upper limb kinematics during 1) out-sweep; 2) in-sweep; 3) upper limb recovery; and lower limb kinematics during 4) Lower limb recovery and 5) the kick. It has been shown that by quantifying whole body torques, in conjunction with the kinematic movement patterns, the effect of technique asymmetries on body alignment can be assessed. Assessment of individual swimmers in this manner provides a solid foundation for planning interventions in strength, flexibility, and technique to improve alignment and performance.

Key words: Asymmetry, human swimming, hydrodynamic drag, yaw

           Key Points
  • A unique (not been attempted previously) study of yaw in breaststroke swimming that yields new knowledge of how technique and strength asymmetries affects body alignment.
  • Establishes an approach to investigation of yaw in swimming using 3D videography and inverse dynamics.
  • Exemplifies the approach with a case study. The case study illustrated the potential of the approach to enable detailed assessment of yaw and to explain how the yaw is produced in terms of the asymmetries in speed and magnitude of the swimming actions.
  • This procedure should be used to identify and quantify asymmetries that might impair performance.
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