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    Biomechanical characteristics of highly-trained single-arm amputee front crawl swimmers

    Osborough, Conor D (2012) Biomechanical characteristics of highly-trained single-arm amputee front crawl swimmers. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    The general aim of this thesis was to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge regarding the biomechanical characteristics of highly-trained single-arm amputee front crawl swimmers, thus allowing for the application of this knowledge to enhance swimming performance. With this in mind, five experimental studies were undertaken, which focused on three main areas: Firstly, how swimmers adjusted their stroke parameters in order to swim faster and which of the swimmers’ anthropometric characteristics were related to performance. Secondly, what inter-arm and leg-to-arm coordination patterns were exhibited by these swimmers and how inter-limb coordination was related to the attainment of maximum swimming speed. Thirdly, what three-dimensional arm movements were used by these swimmers during the front crawl stroke cycle and how these movements contributed to propulsion and as a consequence the overall progression of the swimmers through the water. The findings of this thesis suggest that when single-arm front crawl swimmers are sprinting: (a) the attainment of a high stroke frequency is more important than swimming with the longest possible stroke; (b) reducing the length of time the affected-arm is held stationary in front of the body will help attain a high stroke frequency; (c) the rhythmical alignment of leg kicks to arm strokes may enhance performance and contribute to the stability of inter-arm coordination; (d) amputees use a more linear underwater hand movement, than able-bodied swimmers and use one of three distinct movement patterns to pull their affected-arm through the water; (e) increases in intra-cyclic swimming velocity can be achieved with the unaffected-arm, but not so with the affected-arm. The findings of this thesis will be of interest to scientists working in the area of swimming biomechanics. They should also be of some practical benefit to unilateral arm-amputee front crawl swimmers and to those who coach and teach them.

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