A Deeper Look: Jacob Molacek’s Glide

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, March 4. THERE have been a lot of questions generated regarding Jacob Molacek’s national high school record of 52.92, with some believing that there might be some underwater dolphin kicking going on. Check out our race footage article to see the comments yourself. We’ve already chatted with Molacek’s coach Tom Beck to gather info on Molacek’s swim, but we’re going one step further here.

While the only final proof for something of this nature would be underwater race footage, something that FINA hasn’t decided to move towards which would be the key for other organizations to begin investing in the technology to allow for underwater judging, the conversation did unearth an interesting test done by USA Swimming last year.

During the Zone Select Camp and National Select Camps a year ago, USA Swimming wanted to study streamlining among age group swimmers. What wound up happening is that Molacek proved to be the best among the boys when it came to a 5-meter glide, with Edward Kim’s 100-meter freestyle glide being a close second.

Here’s how the test went down:

Testing Protocols
The following tests were conducted to provide educational tools for home coaches. What a
swimmer at this age does will not necessarily reflect future potential, but may indicate a need to
work on the skills tested. The tests are clearly flawed with human use of stopwatches and no
touchpads. However, this will closely approximate what most coaches can do at their home pools
with just a stopwatch.

1. 5-Meter Streamline Time
a. Swimmer begins in ready position (two feet and one hand on wall)
b. Upon a “Ready, Go” from the coach, the athlete will submerge, and streamline.
c. The manager/coach starts a watch when the feet leave the wall and stops the watch when
the feet (toes) pass the flags. Flags should be set at 5 meters for long course. If possible a
marker (orange cone) should be placed on the bottom of the pool at approximately the 8
meter mark so when the swimmer’s face is over the cone, their feet will have passed the
flags. (Note: 5 meters equals 5 yards plus 16¾ inches)
d. There are no pulls and no kicks allowed. Pulls/kicks result in a “DQ” and the trial is not
recorded. The swimmer is given another chance. If the swimmer’s feet do not make it to
the flags, the trial is also not recorded and the swimmer is given another chance.
e. Swimmer may push off in any position (side, front, or back)
f. Each athlete’s two trials are recorded, with the fastest being used for the study.

2. 15-Meter Dolphin Kick Time
a. Swimmer begins in ready position (two feet and one hand on wall)
b. Upon a “Ready, Go” from the coach, the athlete submerges, and pushes off the wall.
c. The manager/coach starts a watch when the feet leave the wall and stops the watch when
the hands (fingertips) pass the 15 meter mark. If possible a marker (Ex: orange cone) should be placed on the bottom of the pool at 16 meters to ensure the athlete travels 15
meters.
d. Swimmer may push off in any position (side, front, diagonal, or back)
e. Each athlete’s two trials are recorded, with the fastest being used for the study

As you can see in the image above, Molacek accomplished the 5-meter glide in 2.1 seconds. His 15-meter dolphin kick was among the top of those in attendance, but no where near butterfly Andrew Liang’s 5.8-second attempt.

This isn’t proof either way that Molacek didn’t have a dolphin kick added into his swim in Nebraska, but it’s pretty strong evidence that even under a 100-percent controlled study, he has an amazing innate ability to streamline.

Special thanks to USA Swimming Sport Performance Consultant Scott Colby for providing the stats and study.

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Author: Jason Marsteller

Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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