Purpose: This study analyzed kinematic changes during a 100-m front crawl to investigate the effects of performance level and gender, comparing 12 high-speed males, 8 medium-speed males, 8 low-speed males, and 8 high-speed females.
Methods: Assessments were made throughout the race in a 25-m pool divided into five zones of 5 m. Velocity (V), stroke rate (SR), and stroke length (SL) were calculated for each 25-m length (L1 to L4) and for each 5-m zone. Four stroke phases were identified by video analysis, and the index of coordination (IdC) was calculated. Three modes of arm coordination were identified: catch-up, opposition, and superposition. The leg kick was also analyzed.
Results: The high-speed male swimmers were distinguished by higher V (1.89 m·s−1), SR (0.78 Hz), SL (2.16 m per stroke), propulsive phase (54%), and IdC (3.8%) (P < 0.05), and by the stability of these values throughout the race. The medium- and low-speed males had an opposition coordination (−1% < IdC < 1%) during the third length of the 100 m. Because of fatigue in length 4, they spent more time with the hand in the push phase (possibly because of a decrease in hand velocity) and changed to superposition coordination (medium-speed males: IdC = 2.78%; low-speed males: IdC = 1.12%) (P < 0.05). This change was ineffective, however, as SL continued to decrease throughout the 100 m (P < 0.05). The main gender findings were the greater SL of the males versus the females (1.81 m per stroke) (P < 0.05) and the similar IdC of both high-speed groups (females: 4.4%).
Conclusion: The high-speed swimmers were characterized by higher and more stable SL and IdC. The principal gender effect was greater SL in the males than in the females.