Michael Phelps explains revolutionary new freestyle finish (Interview)

Produced by Coleman Hodges.

Reported by Jared Anderson. 

In a showdown of last year’s world champ and world rankings leader, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte went head-to-head in the 200 IM for yet another time in their storied careers. Lochte jumped out to an early lead, but things were nearly tied by the 150-mark. At the end, though, it was Phelps who got to the wall first from the middle of the pool, going 1:58.00. Lochte, swimming in an outside lane, was 1:58.43 to take silver in one of the weekend’s most memorable races.

Phelps competes for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club but now trains in Arizona with the Arizona State Sun Devils, while Lochte has moved from Florida to SwimMAC in Carolina as both legendary athletes continue dominating into their 30s.

Those two were well ahead of the field, with Cal’s Josh Prenot taking third in 1:59.94. Prenot was himself a second ahead of the next-best competitor, Scotland’s Dan Wallace (2:00.90). Wallace was the first of three Gator Swim Club swimmers to finish in succession: Eduardo Solaeche was 2:02.18 for 5th and Nikita Denisyako 2:03.58 for 6th.

Swimming in his second A final of the night, Cal freshman Andrew Seliskar was 2:03.92 to take 7th, and Wisconsin alum Michael Weiss went 2:04.59 for 8th.

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8 years ago

Has this technique ever been used in backstroke?

Steve-O Nolan
Reply to  eric
8 years ago

I remember seeing some videos of some Tennessee swimmers breaking out with a dolphin kick, but don’t think I’ve seen any finish with more than one.

Ronnie SeCoy
8 years ago

Phelps is the greatest male competitor in this sport ever. Often he is insulted on these net postings sites. Well, I predict he earns at minimum to add to his record awards at minimum two
more medals. And 2 more USA medals is worth his training effort. Two more would seal the deal. No one ever would match this mans total medal count. (maybe 4 more?)

8 years ago

Phelps normal freestyle is what we call a hybrid, also known by some as a gallop or loping freestyle. On the final length of his 200IM his freestyle stroke rate was 75. When he converts to a shoulder-driven dolphin kick freestyle for the last 5 meters or so, his stroke rate goes to over 100. One doesn’t need a velocity meter to see that his speed picks up quickly here. Oh and by the way, he wins the race.
When Klim led of the 4 x 100 free relay in Sydney in 2000 in a world record time, his stroke rate went from 100 to 115 with the conversion to dolphin kick (no breath).
When Nathan Adrian switches… Read more »

Pete Finefrock
8 years ago

Revolutionary, Ross Wales, father of Dodd Wales and National High School record holder in 1966 in 100 fly, used that technique in the 50 free at the Ohio High School Champs. Would “convert” to dolphin kick with 15 yards to go in every 50 and it was like watching the Starship Enterprise going into warp drive,

Reply to  Pete Finefrock
8 years ago

I swam with Ross (was a teammate on the 68 Olympic team), but for the life of me, cannot ever remember seeing Ross do freestyle in competition. It was not his strength! But fly was. If Ross did that in 66, perhaps that is where Klim’s coach got the idea. But I doubt it. Some good ideas just get re-invented over time.

Pete Finefrock
Reply to  Gary Hall Sr.
8 years ago

He swam as a team of one swimmer every year at the state championships representing Youngstown Raytheon. 100 fly was his event, so he would swim the 50 free for fun ( and win it ) with his “revolutionary” secret weapon. He was also a side breather for fly, early for that also

8 years ago

In the 200IM Phelps should be DQ’d for the his finish for the same reason that Lochte is DQ’d for doing his free underwater on his back right?

Reply to  Hank
8 years ago

That’s what I thought, but my current understanding is that if you declare that you intend to do this during the race, then it will be allowed? I don’t get it, but they do do dolphin kicks at the turns, maybe they are considering that an equivalent. So IDK how it’s different than the Lochte turn. I agree with you that Lochte should be able to do his turn like that if Phelps is able to dolphin at the end of an IM

Reply to  Hank
8 years ago

Lochte’s dolphins on his back are considered backstroke, so he cannot do them on the freestyle leg of the IM (because you can’t repeat strokes). Phelps’ dolphins at the end aren’t considered butterfly because it is just dolphin kicks – butterfly requires simultaneous arms. So he won’t get DQ’d.

8 years ago

Interesting observation from Matt Kredich about Phelps’ freestyle already being a bit like fly anyway:
*around minute 16:25

Not saying its better or worse, but its interesting to hear a coach like Kredich, who is always pushing the technical boundaries looking for faster ways to move through the water…

8 years ago

Sprint swims (and runs) are about who generates the most speed and power at the outset, gets to maximum speed fastest relative to either times or competitors, and who can maintain that speed the best to win. Maybe instead of looking at this technique as increasing speed, it’s a technique that can prevent the deterioration of speed as the finish approaches. In water, this is extremely important because of drag. The competitor who generates the best combination of entry/push-from-turns (through quick reaction, powerful force from the block/wall, streamline, maintenance of momentum) plus effective power generated during the swim, plus the muscular endurance during the race (even in a 21.4s 50m freestyle), plus the most efficient body position, plus the least… Read more »

Reply to  BaldingEagle
8 years ago

Agnels 400 WR was set after the tech suit era, maybe your thinking of biedermanns 200 SC, the which proves your theory.

Reply to  Ok
8 years ago

Thanks. Definitely Biedermann’s scm and lcm 200 free. Also, any 200 backstroke race at any level, in particular scy and scm. The great development since is that everyone is working on core stability and walls, but those old records have to go.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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