Jamie Patrick Stroke
So I went to Jamie's Great Lakes swim site
and there is a video from his 111 mile Sacramento River swim. I'm fascinated by Jamie's relaxed and elegant but unconventional stroke. High recovery seems unnaturally slow (like a drill). Very high head lift/body roll when breathing and appears at times to breathe 2 or even 3 strokes in a row! (not stroke cycles, strokes). See, for example, 5:14 and 6:57.
I'd like to hear thoughts on this both from Jamie and others. This is NOT criticism. I am just wanderer (wonderer?) seeking knowledge from a master. This looks similar to my natural style (except for the double/triple breathing) that has been coached out of me for years.
Here is the video
Just paste in a YouTube or Vimeo link, it automatically embeds.
I would like to first clarify that I am far from the "master" you might be seeking knowledge from Spiff, but I guess I will jump in here with a few thoughts about the stroke.
Regarding the double/triple breathing - I don't find that all too weird. I have been guilty of doing that toward the end of long hard practices when I am really pushing myself and feel like I need extra air. So I can definitely imagine myself feeling the need to do that at least a few times over a (mind boggling) 31+ hour swim.
As for the speed of his turnover - again I don't find that too strange. It looks like he is swimming with a bit of a catch-up stroke, so he is gliding a little longer and getting a little more distance per stroke (you can see this well around 6:15). Again, this is something that I do myself (and so does the 1500m world record holder Sun Yang).
Finally, the recovery - I definitely think he is putting more energy into the recovery that he needs to. There is never any reason why your hand should be above your elbow. Swinging around a straight arm like that puts extra torque on your shoulders creating fatigue. Now I have never seen Jamie's stroke aside from this video, so I am not sure if that is caused by the long sleeve wetsuit. I have never used one myself, but I know long leg suits really effect the ability to bend your legs and do breaststroke kick, so I could imagine a long sleeve wetsuit might similarly impact your ability to bend your elbows. Can anyone confirm this thought?
Different strokes for different folks. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for others, regardless of how the stroke looks.
Two cases in point.
The best stroke I've ever seen:
The worst stroke I've ever seen (His left elbow actually hits the water before his hand does):
In boxing, Muhammad Ali was technically incorrect....sometimes grossly so. He is also arguably the greatest heavyweight champion in history.
When in doubt, keep moving forward.
It's more what you do under water than above.
It is indeed.
What's more, anytime an athlete does something deemed unorthodox, but excels in the process, it only adds to the breadth, depth, and greatness of the sport.
When in doubt, keep moving forward.
Here is a little bit of my theory. Coming from a strong competitive swimming background as a swimmer and a coach, it has been really neat to see what transfers over to marathon swimming and what doesn't.
Pool competitive distance swimmers generally have the most "colorful" strokes. If you look at a field of mid-distance swimmers (200-500 yd swimmers), there will probably be relatively little difference in their strokes. They will generally be very good at swimming free as they were coached.
If you look at a field of distance swimmers, you will see a group of swimmers that look a little "sloppy" or just different....but really, really good at making that stroke work over long distances. It makes sense that marathon swimmers would follow this trend, only more so.
I've noticed a transformation in my own stroke...far more DPS (distance per stroke) and while I had a steady, consistant breathing pattern for workouts and mid distance events, I have a new breathing pattern that suits covering longer distances. I think my stroke looks pretty, but I have always had very good stroke technique, and compared to the technique I had when I was a 50 freestyler, it has definitly faced some "distance degredation".
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