Journal of Sports Sciences vol:33 issue:14 pages:1523-31
Abstract The aim of this study was to examine the effect of swimming speed on leg-to-arm coordination in competitive unilateral arm amputee front crawl swimmers. Thirteen well-trained swimmers were videotaped underwater during three 25-m front crawl trials (400 m, 100 m and 50 m pace). The number, duration and timing of leg kicks in relation to arm stroke phases were identified by video analysis. Within the group, a six-beat kick was predominantly used (n = 10) although some swimmers used a four-beat (n = 2) or eight-beat kick (n = 1). Swimming speed had no significant effect on the relative duration of arm stroke and leg kick phases. At all speeds, arm stroke phases were significantly different (P < 0.05) between the affected and unaffected sides. In contrast, the kicking phases of both legs were not different. Consequently, leg-to-arm coordination was asymmetrical. The instant when the leg kicks ended on the affected side corresponded with particular positions of the unaffected arm, but not with the same positions of the affected arm. In conclusion, the ability to dissociate the movements of the arms from the legs demonstrates that, because of their physical impairment, unilateral arm amputee swimmers functionally adapt their motor organisation to swim front crawl.