Which phases of the stroke cycle are propulsive in front crawl swimming?

Stelios G. Psycharakis, Simon Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was fourfold: 1) to quantify acceleration, velocity and phase overlap for each phase of the stroke cycle (SC) during 200m front crawl; 2) for each variable, to identify any differences between the four SC phases; 3) to investigate changes in variables during the 200m; 4) to explore any association between performance and each variable. Ten swimmers performed a 200m maximum swim. Four SCs were analysed, one for each 50m, using three-dimensional methods. Each SC was split into four phases: entry, pull, push and recovery. Centre of mass (CM) acceleration; maximum, minimum and average CM velocity; phase duration, and; overlap of a phase of one arm with each phase of the opposite arm were calculated. Phase velocities were positively correlated with performance and decreased during the 200m. The acceleration data showed high within and between-swimmer variability. When the entry of one arm overlapped with the pull, and sometimes push, phase of the opposite arm, it was propulsive for the whole body. The pull was the slowest phase and overlapped predominantly with the opposite arm’s recovery. The push phase was often propulsive for the whole body, regardless of the overlaps with the other arm, and together with the entry were the fastest phases. The recovery of each arm was mostly resistive for the whole body, except the short period of overlap with the opposite arm’s push phase.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Apr 2023


  • biomechanics
  • kinetics
  • kinematics
  • acceleration


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