I’m telling you, this guy makes me cry he’s so smooth. You can see highlights of Sun Yang’s 1500-meter world record swim here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/swimming/highlights-sun-yang-wins-gold-in-1500m-freestyle.html.
Some quick comments on this amazing swim:
Stroke rate: He holds a steady 0.96 stroke rate (he takes one stroke every 0.96 seconds) for almost the entire first 1000 meters. He then picks it up to 0.95 before increasing to 0.93 with 150 meters to go. In the final 50, he sprints in with a stroke every 0.75 seconds.
Stroke length: He holds from 26 to 27 strokes per length. Think about that for a moment. Twenty-six strokes for 50 meters. That’s 13 strokes for 25 meters. And he does this again, and again, and again. Same stroke count. Same stroke rate. Kicking out :59 second 100’s over and over and over again. Talk about some precisely targeted neuromuscular training!
Alignment: The guy swims like he’s on rails. Arms extending straight. No head movement. Straight down the center of the lane.
Kick: Four kicks per stroke cycle. Yep. Only four. In fact, he takes just one kick coming off the breath, completes two small flutter kicks and then snaps just one kick to get to the breath again. For you triathletes who have heard over and over that you need an always-on, strong kick, think again. This guy doesn’t even have to bike and run after his 1500 and he is still modest with the kicking. The key is that it’s integrated. It’s timed with his stroke. He kicks only at the right time to snap the hip to the other side. Nothing extra.
Breathing: Two-count (one breath every two strokes). He even threw in some single-side breathing. Again, triathletes, you have heard that you need to breathe every 3 strokes (or do bilateral breathing). It really is ok to do 2-count breathing. If you need the air, take it–just like each guy in the 1500-meter finals of the Olympics.
Catch: Note the wide hand (no cupping). Also note the high elbow and vertical forearm. Textbook.
Recovery: Can you say high elbows? Oh, my . . .
Final outcome? A new world record (he broke his own) of 14:31.02.