Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke during elite swimmwng competition

Albert B. Craig, Patricia L. Skehan, James Anthony Pawelczyk, William L. Boomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

227 Scopus citations


CRAIG, A.B., JR., P.L. SKEHAN, J.A. PAWELCZYK, and W.L. BOOMER. Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke during elite swimming competition. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 625-634, 1985. The mean velocity of 9 out of 10 women's events during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials was greater in 1984 as compared to 1976. Three of the 10 men's events showed improvement. In 9 out of these 12 events, the increased velocity was accounted for by increased distance per stroke (range, 4 to 16%), and in 8 there was also a decrease in stroke rate (range, -3 to -13%). In the women's 100-m butterfly and 100-m backstroke, increased velocity was due solely to faster stroke rates. The finalists in each event were compared to those whose velocities were 3-7% slower. In almost all events and stroke styles, the finalists achieved greater distances per stroke than did the slower group. In the men's events increased distance per stroke was associated with decreased stroke rate, except in the backstroke, in which both were increased for the finalists. Although the faster women swimmers generally had greater distances per stroke, they were more dependent than men on faster stroke rates to achieve superiority. The profile of velocity for races of 200 m and longer indicated that as fatigue developed the distance per stroke decreased. The faster swimmers compensated for this change by maintaining or increasing stroke rate more than did their slower competitors. This study indicates that improvements and superiority in stroke mechanics are reflected in the stroke rate and distance per stroke used to swim a race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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