Comparison of expert and nonexpert swimmers' opinions about the value, potency, and activity of four standard swimming strokes and underwater undulatory swimming

Percept Mot Skills. 2009 Apr;108(2):491-8. doi: 10.2466/PMS.108.2.491-498.


Underwater undulatory swimming (UUS) is often perceived to be a nonessential aspect of aquatic propulsion. Given their solid theoretical and practical training in swimming, physical education students should be capable of judging the true value of the "fifth stroke," since it appears to be the most efficient technique in high level, competitive swimming. To compare opinions and connotations associated with the stroke and the four official strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and crawl), 198 students (32 of whom were expert swimmers; M age = 20.6 yr., SD = 1.2), were surveyed using the semantic differential of Osgood, Suci, and Tannenbaum. Although answers of expert and nonexpert swimmers differed significantly (p < .01, except for the breaststroke), participants considered overall that undulatory stroke was less attractive, less powerful, and less rapid than the four surface strokes (d = 2.88 for the expert swimmers). Putting one arm in front of the other and repeating the sequence still remains the most solidly held representation of "the right way" to swim. However, the high observed standard deviations for the underwater undulatory stimulus (SD > or = 1.1 with SD max = 3 for the expert swimmers) attests to the view being less strongly held by swimming specialists.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Attitude*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immersion*
  • Leg / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Semantic Differential
  • Students / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Swimming / psychology*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology