Kate Douglass And Zac Stubblety-Cook Had Near-Identical Stroke Counts In 200 BR

By this point, we all know about Zac Stubblety-Cook destroying the men’s 200 breaststroke world record at Australian trials, swimming a time of 2:05.95 to become the first man under the 2:06 barrier. We also know about his insane back half, culminating in him splitting a lighting-fast 31.63 on his last 50 meters.

A few days ago, I came across a tweet from Arizona State associate head coach Herbie Behm. He compared the stroke counts of the four fastest performers in the men’s 200 breast and pointed out that there was a trend amongst all four of them: starting their races with longer strokes, and then tightening up on their back half. Due to this, it makes sense as to why the four fastest men in the 200 breast all had their stroke counts get progressively higher as the race went on.

Behm’s tweet led me to think: You know who else has a strong back half in the 200 breast? Kate Douglass, who nearly ran down Lily King swimming this race at U.S. trials a few weeks ago. So I went back to watch Douglass’s race at trials to see if Behm’s observation about stroke count held true for her. And what I discovered was that Douglass’s stroke count throughout her swim was nearly identical to the stroke count of Stubblety-Cook in his world record swim.

In fact, they took the exact same number of strokes in their first three 50s, and Stubblety-Cook only took one more stroke than Douglass on his last 50. You can look at their splits and respective stroke counts here:

Kate Douglass, 2022 U.S. Trials Zac Stubblety-Cook, 2022 Australian Trials (Men’s World Record)
32.76 (14) 29.43 (14)
35.83 (16) 32.46 (16)
36.23 (17) 32.43 (17)
36.61 (19) 31.63 (20)
2:21.43 2:05.95

You can still see from these splits that they paced their race differently even with similar stroke counts. Although Douglass had a stronger back half than front half, she still got progressively slower throughout her entire race. Stubblety-Cook, on the other hand, swam his second 50 the slowest and then descended the rest of his race.

The thing accounting for the difference between the two swimmers is stroke rate. Since their stroke counts were similar, they likely swam the same distance per stroke. However, since Stubblety-Cook was able to swim the same number of strokes as Douglass but faster, his stroke rate was much higher than Douglass, which explains the difference in times and pacing.

To compare the distance per stroke and the stroke rate of the two swimmers, we divided their stroke count by the number of meters they swam and the number of seconds they swam per lap by their stroke count.

Kate Douglass, Distance Per Stroke Kate Douglass, Seconds Per Stroke Zac Stubblety-Cook, Distance Per Stroke Zac Stubblety-Cook, Seconds Per Stroke
50m 50/14 = 3.57m 32.76/14 = 2.340s 50/14 = 3.57m 29.43/14 = 2.102s
100m 50/16 = 3.125m 35.83/16 = 2.239s 50/16 = 3.125m 32.46/16 = 2.029s
150m 50/17 = 2.94m 36.23/17 = 2.131s 50/17 = 2.94m 32.43/17 = 1.908s
200m 50/19 = 2.63m 36.61/19 = 1.927s 50/20 = 2.5m 31.63/20 = 1.581s
Average 3.065m 2.16s 3.033m 1.9s

As you can see, both the stroke rate of Douglass and Stubblety-Cook got faster throughout their races, explaining their strong back halves. However, you can see that Stubblety-Cook’s stroke rate got faster by a bigger margin than Douglass’s, especially on the last 50. Even though they two of them were going the same average distance per stroke, the time that it took Stubblety-Cook to complete each stroke got 0.521 seconds faster from the first 50 vs. the last 50, but only 0.413 seconds faster in Douglass’s scenario.

Obviously, Stubblety-Cook’s stroke rate was significantly faster than Douglass because his overall time was faster. But the difference between their stroke rates became more drastic as the race went on, highlighting the differences in how they paced their races. Stubblety Cook’s stroke rate was 0.288 seconds faster than Douglass’s on the first 50, 0.21 seconds faster on the second 50, 0.223 seconds faster on the third 50, and a whopping 0.346 seconds faster on the last 50 of the race.

NOTE: We did not account for the amount of time spent doing turns and underwaters because of the constant changing of frame on the Douglass race video which accounts for some of the discrepancies in data as well. Because of this, we modified the data by subtracting the approximate amount of time they spent underwater + their turn to the total split time. In addition, we also subtracted the approximate length they were off each wall.

Modified Data:

Kate Douglass, Distance Per Stroke Kate Douglass, Seconds Per Stroke Zac Stubblety-Cook, Distance Per Stroke Zac Stubblety-Cook, Seconds Per Stroke
50m (50 -11)/14 = 2.79m (32.76 -4.73)/14 = 2.002s (50 – 12.20)/14 = 2.7m (29.43 – 4.26)/14 = 1.798s
100m (50 – 7.5)/16 = 2.65m (35.83 – 4.89)/16 = 1.933s (50 – 8.7)/16 = 2.58m (32.46 – 4.18)/16 = 1.768s
150m (50 – 7)/17 = 2.53m (36.23 – 5.30)/17 = 1.819s (50 – 8.4)/17 = 2.44m (32.43 – 3.87)/17 = 1.680s
200m (50 -6.5)/19 = 2.29m (36.61 – 5.18)/19 = 1.654s (50 – 7.5)/20 = 2.125m (31.63 – 3.98)/20 = 1.382s
Average 2.65m 1.852s 2.461m 1.657s

As you can see, Stubblety-Cook is actually coming up further than Douglass is, meaning his DPS is shorter than hers. However, what stays consistent even with the underwater times subtracted is that Stubblety-Cook’s stroke rate still gets faster throughout the race than Douglass’s does. Stubblety Cook’s stroke rate went down 0.416 seconds from the first to the last 50, wheras Douglass’s only went down 0.348 seconds when you look at the modified data.

In addition, Douglass (5’10) and Stubblety-Cook (5’11) are nearly the same height, which also could play a factor in this equation.

Not many conclusions can be drawn from this comparison (especially with the lack of accurrate turn and underwater data), but the fact that Zac Stubblety-Cook and Kate Douglass have nearly the same stroke count despite being two swimmers we usually wouldn’t compare to each other is a stat that is worth sharing. You can watch the races that I used for this article here:

Zac Stubblety-Cook, Men’s 200 Breaststroke, 2022 Australian Trials

Kate Douglass, Women’s 200 Breaststroke, 2022 U.S. Trials

 

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Arisuin
2 months ago

Sota?? Lol

Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

Lilly King sticks with 35 throughout

Virtus
2 months ago

So does MAs new Instagram post mean he doesn’t believe in evolution 🤔

CADWALLADER GANG
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

bye the caption on his post… second hand embarrassment

Mr Piano
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

I mean, considering he was raised by very conservative and religious parents, and likely got all of his education from religious curriculums, it’s not surprising, if unfortunate.

Virtus
Reply to  Mr Piano
2 months ago

The fact that he can even come to that conclusion by himself means his education was atrocious

IM FAN
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

That’s some Jaden Smith’s mirrors tweet level small brain thinking they’re big brain.

I guess we already knew the family didn’t really trust science with his mother’s anti-vaxxer twitter crusade on the NY Breakers account but still “Humans can’t be primates because monkeys still exist” is a whole ‘nother level.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

I never thought intelligence was his friend

jamesjabc
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

And in one of the comments a commenter makes a joke about a Fijian being ‘the missing link’ and MA has liked it and agreed with it in another comment.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that he doesn’t think evolution is real for white people but is happy to compare Islanders to apes.

Clonthebrain
2 months ago

I wouldn’t call lowering the record by 19 one hundreds destroying. Saying that I have been wrong before

Blake pierogi
2 months ago

They planned this so the swim nerds could tell they were secretly married in Las Vegas post tokyo

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 months ago

As the case with Alex Walsh, Kate Douglass is too talented to swim one individual event at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Taa
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 months ago

The only other event she is fast enough is the 200IM. I really wish they would allow additional entries at the meet. Pick your roster and let them swim what they want.

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Taa
2 months ago

This isn’t the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on the calendar in 2022.

Entgegen
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 months ago

Too talented in all events but not talented enough to be top 2 in the US in one event (yet).

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Entgegen
2 months ago

Huh?

Kate Douglass is the Summer Olympic Games bronze medalist in the women’s 200 meter individual medley. Why Kate Douglass opted swim the women’s 50 meter freestyle in lieu of the women’s 200 meter individual medley at the 2022 Phillips 66 International Team Trials is a head scratcher.

Last edited 2 months ago by Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Entgegen
2 months ago

Kate Douglass qualified for the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke.

2022 International Team Trials
Women’s 200 meter breaststroke
“A” Final
King – 2:21.19
Douglass – 2:21.43
Lazor – 2:21.91

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 months ago

People weren’t saying this about Manuel last year. (Hell, plenty of people said she shouldn’t even be on the 4×1.)

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 months ago

Simone Manuel was diagnosed with OTS prior to the 2021 Olympic Team Trials. Essentially Simone Manuel burned out thanks to Greg Meehan’s training regimen.

Last edited 2 months ago by Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 months ago

Walsh and Douglass understandably got too caught up in their NCAA success and didn’t want to believe it wouldn’t translate to long course. But insert Curzan, and Huske benefitting from longer straightaways, and all of a sudden you’re fighting for lower placement.

Walsh seemingly should prioritize both medleys. But the 200 freestyle is so weak she also has an opening there, after leading the race for second for 160 meters at trials.

Douglass seems perfect for 400 medley. She’d have an awesome back half, given how smooth her breaststroke is, and able to maintain long stroke distance, per this analysis. Her lack of dominance in any single 100 would translate perfectly when all are attached. But she doesn’t seem to… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Awsi Dooger
Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

I firmly believe Alex Walsh has more potential in the women’s 400 meter individual medley than the women’s 200 meter freestyle especially after the 2022 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.

See the above comment in regard to Kate Douglass and the women’s 200 meter individual medley.

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

What is the nonsense about NCAA swimming?

Alex Walsh is the Summer Olympic Games silver medalist in the women’s 200 meter individual medley. Kate Douglass is the Summer Olympic Games bronze medalist in the women’s 200 meter individual medley.

A silver medal and a bronze medal in the same event at the Summer Olympic Games is better than nothing at all.

oxyswim
2 months ago

That’s such a poor way to analyze DPS and stroke rate. I promise that ZSC and Douglass didn’t have the same pullout length and time in their races. While figuring out exact B.O. distance can be hard, it’s not hard to start a watch when they initiate their first cycle instead of just taking total 50 time.

kwrb77
2 months ago

This is pretty incredible actually

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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