Sunday, August 30, 2009

World champion kitajima breaststroke analysis

Hi all ,

This breaststroker from Japan has always been my idol. He is one of the few asians in history that has ever held a swimming world record. His name is Kitajima Kousuke . He is only 178cm tall and weights 71 kg , well below the average of a professional swimmer's physique , yet he managed to do a double double ( Gold Medallist for 2004 and 2008 for 100m and 200m breasstroke )

Here is a video of him breaking the 200m world record back in 200m . This is the top view of his competition

.. and this is the underwater view


50 m mark - 28.91 - 28.91 ( 1st 50m ) - 14 strokes - 7.44s per 5 strokes
100 m mark - 1:01.27 - 32.36 ( 2nd 50m ) - 14 strokes - 8.95s per 5 strokes
150 m mark - 1:34.24 - 32.97 ( 3rd 50m ) - 15 strokes - 8.84s per 5 strokes
200 m mark - 2:07:51 - 33.27 ( last 50m ) - 18 strokes - 7.16s per 5 strokes

What the data meant

- First 50m is the fastest in terms of time
- You can see lactic acid building up by the slowing of each subsequent 50m time
- The last 50m has the highest stroke rate and the slowest time (Max lactic build up)
- His best 50m probably is the 2nd 50m , glides the longest but achieves a fast time , disregarding the first 50m because he started off the blocks.

My comment
- His kick is absolutely amazing , he glides so far with his powerful kick , he can actually lengthen his stroke length without compromising on time . If you check out the underwater video , his kick is actually a "whip" , the recovery is small ( to cut down on resistance ) and the kick is strong and control.
- His breaststroke is extremely streamlined and controlled . His pull is strong and he managed to thrust forward after each pull. The trick here I think is to arch your back and spring forward with your hip ( much like a dolphin kick motion)
- Keep his head down while gliding ( very important to cut resistance )

Anyway , the video below shows a 200m breasstroke competition at a provincial level
This video gives a good picture how fast a professional swimmer(kitajima) is compared to a provincial level swimmer. Bear in mind that the swimmer in this video is also actually very fast already !!

Jon's analysis
2nd 50 m - 36.51 s - 20 strokes - 7.78 per 5 strokes ( kitajima 14 strokes)
3rd 50 m - 36.94 s - 22 strokes - 6.92 per 5 strokes ( kitajima 15 strokes)
last 50 m - 37.42 s - 26 strokes - 5.91 per 5 strokes ( kitajima 18 strokes)

wow look at the stroke rate difference per 50m ! Kitajima is swimming more efficienly than the swimmer above and with a faster time too !

So conclusion is , stroke length is more important than stroke rate ! and also you need to find you ideal stroke length vs stroke rate time !


  1. Excellent point about his kick, it is suprisingly small in terms of actual width. He manages to extract a lot of power from such a short movement.

    I think the comment about stroke length is extremely important for beginner swimmers, regardless of the stroke. Many people feel as if they are going faster because they are taking more strokes, when that is most often not the case.

  2. Thank you Dan for your comment ! Cant agree more , am actually looking at my blog for the breaststroke feel cause I have a swim race tomorrow, 50m breaststroke ! My first race after 8 years !