Swimming to the limit | sports


A year ago, Raúl Arellano, a biomechanic at the University of Granada and an analyst at the Spanish swimming federation, warned: “The record of Caeleb Dressel in the 50-yard test of the American university championships in Minneapolis marked a milestone in the history of the swimming: it was the fastest race in history ”.

Projected to the Olympic-sized swimming pools (50 meters), the performance of the sprinter of the University of Florida, 22, announced the return of swimming to the limits that were so easily transferred a decade ago. The World Cup held this week in Gwangju offers all indications that online swimming races are about to produce a wave of records in the coming months. The coincidence of the waterproof swimsuits with the generation of Michael Phelps between 2007 and 2009 pushed swimming to borders that seemed unattainable without the technological help of the rubber monkeys that covered the entire body of the athletes until they were banned in 2010 It has not been necessary to wait so long to attend record speed exhibitions in several disciplines and categories simultaneously.

After two days of the World Cup, five individual finals have been played and in three of them the world record has been beaten or bordered. The Englishman Adam Peaty swam the 100 fastest breasts in history in the semifinals (56.88 seconds) and yesterday made the fourth best mark ever (57.14s) to hang the gold. At 18, Australian Ariarne Titmus was a 400-free champion with a time of 3m 58.76s, two seconds slower than the 2016 Katie Ledecky world record, and a potential that invites her to consider a great progression. Road to the Tokyo Games next year announces a general acceleration. There is no lack of daring young people. The first is Dressel, dominator with ease of the 50-meter butterfly before yesterday obtaining gold with a mark of 22.35 seconds, just seven hundredths of the world record (22.27s) established by the Ukrainian specialist Andrii Govorov in 2018 .

The prodigious exit

Arellano analyzes the feat of Dressel in the 2018 university championships section by section to signal an exponential physical and technical advance. At the start he takes as a reference Alex Popov in the 1992 Games and Florent Manadou the day he broke the record of 50 free in the short pool in 2014. Popov made 3.33 seconds in the first 10 meters and Manadou made 3 seconds in 10 meters and 5 seconds in 15. In Minneapolis, Dressel made 2.90 seconds in 10 meters and 4.84s in 15 meters. Manadou made 9.7 seconds in the first 25 meters while Dressel swam 25 yards at a speed that would have allowed him to cover 25 meters in 9.31 seconds. Translating the yards to meters, Dressel would have covered the second length of 25 almost a second faster than Manadou; 10.06s versus 10.56s. A sidereal margin considering the prevailing equality in the tests of pure speed.

The biomechanical attributes the greatest explosiveness at the exit to the redesign of the poyetes with a more effective support point to push with the feet, the greater underwater distance traveled, and a specific training of the power of legs typical of the jumping tests, or of speed, athletics. Dressel's vertiginous exit, which measures 1.91 and weighs more than 90 kilos but has an elongated body that sticks into the water like an arrow, leads him to spin a clean transition from the underwater swim to the crawl.

Ryan Murphy, recordman of 100 back and former companion of Dressel at Bolles College in Jacksonville, analyzes the phenomenon: “He is straight from head to toe. It has no ass or curves that offer water resistance. Naturally it aligns with the current to flow. Your exit is crazy. His stroke also flows. The recovery of his arm leads him to put his hand immediately where he is going to take the water with a quick gesture of the trunk and elbow. You don't need to stretch your arm. ”

With the new tools at the service of his talent to slip into the water, Dressel threatens to break the world records of 100 meters free and butterfly, and 50 meters free. They all date from 2009, the magical year of the Jacked swimsuits, famous because they waterproofed the body by raising it above the surface and facilitating movement. Dressel, like Peaty, only uses a regular bermuda of permeable fabric.

Eleven brands with textile swimsuit that remain untouched

Between the 2007 Melbourne World Championships and the 2009 Rome World Championships, swimming experienced a double boil. On the one hand, the appearance of a generation of gifted swimmers, with Phelps in the lead, on the other the manufacture of a new type swimsuit monkey which covered the entire body of men and women with a waterproof rubber film. The increase in buoyancy derived from the use of these instruments prompted swimmers to open water at an unprecedented speed. The excess reached its peak in Rome, where 43 records were broken.

From that three-year party interrupted in 2010 with the ban on waterproof swimsuits, a hard core of untouched brands remains. Considering the total of the 34 individual tests of the men's and women's program – all subject to a world record between 2007 and 2010 – there remain 11 whose records achieved with the forbidden swimsuit have not been broken. In total, nine of the male category and two of the female category, a sign that the change in regulations, which requires reducing the surface of the covered body, affected men more.

In the men's category the tests of 50, 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters free; the 200 back; the 100 and the 200 butterfly; and the 400 styles remain inaccessible. In the women's team there are two pitfalls: the record of 200 free of Federica Pellegrini and that of the Chinese Liu Zige in 200 butterfly.

The eleven unbeaten disciplines form an increasingly besieged castle. From the Gwangju World Cup to the 2020 Tokyo Games, a full-blown attack is coming.

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