Journal of Applied Biomechanics vol:25 issue:4 pages:304-312
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationships between swimming speed (SS), stroke length (SL), and stroke frequency (SF) for competitive single-arm amputee front crawl swimmers and assess their relationships with anthropometric characteristics. Thirteen highly-trained swimmers (three male, ten female) were filmed underwater from a lateral view during seven increasingly faster 25-m front crawl trials. Increases in SS (above 75% of maximum SS) were achieved by a 5% increase in SF which coincided with a 2% decrease in SL. At SSmax, inter-swimmer correlations showed that SF was significantly related to SS (r = 0.72; p < 0.01) whereas SL was not. Moderate but non-significant correlations suggested that faster swimmers did not necessarily use longer and slower strokes to swim at a common sub-maximal speed when compared to their slower counterparts. No correlations existed between SL and any anthropometric characteristics, instead bi-acromial breadth, shoulder girth and upper-arm length all significantly correlated with the SF used at SSmax. These findings imply that as a consequence of being deprived of an important propelling limb, at fast swimming speeds SF is more important than SL in influencing the performance outcome of highly-trained front crawl swimmers with a single-arm amputation.