SIR 6: Swimming a 1500 like cod

Fish in nature have a burst of speed they coast. Should we do the same?

For most of my coaching career I’ve followed a simple logic: In every stroke except for breaststroke, gliding = slowing down. That makes perfect sense to me and I’ve always taught my swimmers to eliminate gaps in propulsion so that they are always getting maximum forward motion, but now that I’ve come across this study I’m asking myself a few questions. Before I get to my questions, here’s the study:

Gait transition in swimming

Here’s one of my major questions: is a no-glide philosophy only for sprint races? I can see how that argument could be made from an energy perspective ie. races that last longer require energy to last for a longer period if time. Surely this doesn’t mean we can resort to catch-up stroke however as catch-up stroke not only has gaps in propulsion, it is also inefficient by encouraging swimmer to be more flat in the water.

I have so many more questions like: “How is the index of coordination affected?”, but I shall hold them.

Here’s an interesting excerpt:

Burst-and-coast swimming behavior is quite common in nature. It consists of cyclic burst of swimming movements followed by gliding phase in which the body is not producing thrust. This surprising strategy of propulsion is observed in fishes such as cod and saithe and was shown to be actually energetically cheaper than steady swimming at the same average velocity

What do you think? Should we also begin bursting and coasting?