Biomechanical Influence of Start Technique Preference for Elite Track Starters in Front Crawl

Biomechanical Influence of Start Technique Preference for Elite Track Starters in Front Crawl

The Open Sports Sciences Journal 13 Aug 2010 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1875399X010030100137


The aim of this study was to analyse the differences between preferential and non preferential start technique, and the inter-trial variability. Seven elite swimmers, who used track start as preferential technique, realised three trials in track and grab start. The kinematical analysis assessed the durations of the block, flight, entry, glide, leg kicking and full swimming phases to the 15-m mark. Aerial (sum of block and flight phase with head mark) and underwater (from entry to the head reach the water surface) phases, number of underwater leg undulations and arm stroke to 15m were also measured. The kinetic analysis assessed reaction and impulse time and total impulses in vertical and horizontal axis. Track start, as preferential technique, had shorter block and entry phases but similar flight phase. In grab start, swimmers spend more time in the impulse and obtained higher vertical impulse values; moreover higher inter-trial variability was found for non-preferential technique suggesting lower efficiency. Differences of kinematics and kinetics observed tended to explain that the preferential technique is highly stabilised and reproducible by the swimmers. However, no differences on the 15m start time performance are observed between the two techniques, confirming the high skill level of the swimmers, and notably their capability to compensate lower block efficiency by effective underwater phases. Indeed, the relative duration of the underwater phases, the number of leg undulations and arm strokes are very similar in both techniques.

Keywords: Biomechanics, expertise, preferential technique, swimming start.