Janet Hu Is As Good As Matt Grevers and Nathan Adrian, In At Least One Sense

In the aftermath of any great swim, the true swim fans, swim nerds, swim geeks start looking for explanations. “How did that happen,” “How can more of us make that happen,” etc. One of our readers, David Williams (@davidw4699 on Twitter) was on the hunt, and came up with this amazing stat for Janet Hu’s National Age Group Record-tying swim in prelims (read more here). Stroke counts on the
two 25’s for 50 freestyles on Friday morning:

  • Nathan Adrian (6’7″ tall) – 11/13 – 24 = 19.31
  • Matt Grevers (6’8″ tall) – 8/11 – 19 = 19.36
  • Janet Hu (5’7″ tall-ish) – 8/12 – 20 = 21.89.

Now, the reality is that Hu will never be able to
compete with Adrian and Grevers. I’ll go on the record saying that
no woman will go 19.3 in the 50 yard free, with current rules,
during Hu’s career. HOWEVER, it is an absolutely stunning number of
strokes to say that she got across the pool in back in roughly the
same number as Matt Grevers, and in fewer than Nathan Adrian, both
of whom are a foot taller than her (we had to estimate Hu’s height
based on pictures and anecdotal references). Now, depending on your
perspective, there’s a few conclusions you can draw from this:

  • Nathan Adrian has incredible turnover – to fit that many strokes in with around 37 or 38 yards of above-the-water swimming, at his height and power generation, shows great turnover.
  • Matt Grevers is longer than Nathan Adrian Grevers and Adrian aren’t that dissimilar in height, but Grevers feels like a longer swimmer. Arm length, stroke length, etc.
  • In an era where DPS is losing some emphasis – Distance Per Stroke is still an important concept that most coaches talk about…but it’s not quite as big as it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, where DPS was everything. Not that everyone should
    necessarily do exactly what Hu is doing, but it’s an important data point.
  • Janet Hu is much better underwater – in which case, the question will become how much better? And how much of her time is spent over the water? And what, exactly, is her distance per stroke? This might reinforce what many coaches already know: shorter swimmers have to be really good underwater to compete with their taller counterparts.
  • Is this even notable? – We’re going to look now, but is this that unusual? Faith Johnson’s 21.89 came at NCAA’s, so somebody at Tennessee probably has a good video… is Hu’s stroke count that dissimilar to other female swimmers of her height and ability? USA Swimming probably has data on this, but getting them to share their data can be a challenge. We’ll all be watching tonight, though, and find out.

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6 years ago

Another conclusion: Janet Hu is far better at streamline dolphin kicking!

Sean S
6 years ago

I’m sure Janet Hu takes full advantage of her underwaters though and I doubt Nathan Adrian is doing too many kicks off of the wall.

6 years ago

Janet is close to 15 mark uw. Nothing to do w DPS. If she
took 3 dolph kicks off the wall she would take around 13/18 strokes
per 25.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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