Gravity is an interesting topic in the swimming world because some people believe that gravity doesn’t do anything to you when you’re swimming because you’re buoyant. I agree with that and I also don’t agree with that because they’re still part of the body that is above the water, even though you’re buoyant in the water. I do believe that there’s a gravitational force that’s still acting on the body in different strokes and that in different parts of stroke cycles that gravitational force may play more of a role than it does in others.
What’s pretty interesting about gravity in the Backstroke kick is similar to why we saw, Ryan Lochte kicking off of his walls on his back before flipping to his stomach and then, you know, obviously FINA was like no we can’t do that. So like, why was Ryan doing that? Well, the reality is, is for people that believe gravity affects you while you’re swimming. If you look at the Backstroke kick the gravitational force is pointing down. And so what part of the kick is happening, going down, well that’s the down kick and as we discussed the Down Kick is the setup phase, while the Up Kick is the propulsive phase. So, if gravity’s forcing, adding a force down you’re kicking down forcefully, you’re adding some force to that weaker portion of your kick which means that that kick in itself becomes a little bit stronger. Whereas when you kick up the gravitational force is combating the force you’re kicking up which maybe makes that force a little bit weaker. But what’s cool about that, if you compare that to Freestyle, is in Freestyle, the Down Kick portion is already the strong portion, so you add in the gravitational force which makes it stronger. But then you add the Up Kick portion, which is the weaker part, and you add a gravitational force counteracting that makes the weak portion that much weaker. So at the end of the day, if you have a faster average speed output doing Backstroke kick because you weaken the less strong portion of that kick more so than you aid, the stronger portion of the Freestyle kick. So that larger speed disparity that’s created in Freestyle doesn’t give you a faster average output in Backstroke. The gravitational force in Backstroke can help your kick because it’s weakening the weaker portion of the kick, as opposed to, strengthening the stronger ones.