Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

To Glide or Not to Glide. Response to Havriluk's Comment on "Arm Coordination and Performance Level in the 400-M Front Crawl"

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

To Glide or Not to Glide. Response to Havriluk's Comment on "Arm Coordination and Performance Level in the 400-M Front Crawl"

Article excerpt

We recently published an article on arm coordination and performance level in 400-m front-crawl swimming in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (Schnitzlo, Seifert, & Chollet, 2011). The index of coordination (IDC) was used to quantify interarm coordination. Our results showed that expert swimmers exhibited lower IdC than recreational swimmers over a 400-m trial. In addition to criticizing various methodological points, Havriluk (2012) challenged our conclusion that catch-up could be an efficient model of coordination and instead suggested that it might lead to injuries. An important point in this debate, however, is that our definition of catch-up coordination may differ from the one proposed by Havriluk (2012), which would explain why we consider catch-up coordination to be the dominant mode of coordination used by expert swimmers during training sessions.

Key words: aerobic, motor control, swimming

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In an article recently published in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (Schnitzler, Seifert, & Chollet, 2011), we examined how swimmers of two performance and skill levels completed a 400-m front-crawl trial at maximal velocity. Despite a mean difference of 76.4 s (M = 267.6 s, SD = 9.9, vs. M = 344 s, SD = 14.9) in the final time to complete the test, the comparison of both workload assessment (using the NASA-TLX questionnaire; Hart, & Staveland, 1988) and a physiological parameter (posteffort lactatemia) suggested that the magnitude of the effort being performed was equivalent in the two groups. Beating in mind that velocity (V) is the product of stroke rate (SR) and stroke length (SL; Craig, & Pendergast, 1979; Craig, Skehan, Pawelczyk, & Boomer, 1985), we found that the higher velocity of the better group was achieved by greater SL (M = 2.48 m x [cycle.sup.-1], SD = 0.3, vs. M = 2.04 m x [cycle.sup.-1], SD = 0.23, p < .05), as SR did not significantly differ (M = 34.8 cycle x [min.sup.-1], SD = 3.3, vs. M = 33.9 cycle x [min.sup.-1], SD = 4.5). This was in accordance with previous findings (Chollet, Pelayo, Delaplace, Tourny, & Sidney, 1997; Schnitzler, Ernwein, Seifert, & Chollet, 2007). However, the study was more specifically focused on the difference in interarm coordination between these two groups of swimmers, using a methodology first proposed by Chollet, Charles, & Chatard (2000). These authors proposed to examine front-crawl swimming by breaking down each stroke cycle into four distinct phases: catch, pull, push, and recovery. We considered the pull and push phases as propulsive phases and labeled catch and recovery as nonpropulsive phases. In this methodology, the duration of each phase is quantified relative to the cycle duration, and the index of coordination (IDC) represents the average lag time between the end of the propulsive phase of one arm and the beginning of the propulsive phase of the other. We defined three main models of coordination: catch-up (IdC < 0), opposition (IdC 0), and superposition (IdC > 0), and all the early articles using this methodology showed that when participants increased their swim velocity, IdC also increased. Subsequent articles showed that more expert swimmers usually exhibited higher IdC at equivalent swim paces and that the superposition model was observed only in the most expert swimmers at sprint paces (Chollet et al., 2000; Schnitzler, Seifert, Ernwein & Chollet, 2008; Seifert, Boulesteix, & Chollet, 2004). Yet the article in question here, rifled "Arm Coordination and Performance Level in the 400-m Front Crawl," came to a conclusion that partly contradicted those results by showing that during a 400m trial swum at maximal speed, recreational swimmers exhibited an IdC significantly higher than that of expert swimmers (M = -10.9%, SD = 3.6 vs. M = -14.1%, SD = 3.8).

Havriluk (2012) commented on this article by criticizing both the methodology and the conclusion drawn from the experimental results. …

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