Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bank on hormones: Jason Lezak

I am one of those people who loses my breath when I get over excited.  As a sports fanatic, whether it be football, athletics, or curling, watching the final moments of a battle can be a life or death situation.  Ussain Bolt's 100m world record left me hyperventilating.  Jason Lezak's historic split literally had me blue in the face.

To put you on my page, you need to go back to the Beijing Olympics of '08 - men's 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

Possibly thee most exciting chlorinated race of all time, in my opinion anyway!

Jason Lezak, an American Olympic swimmer, all though a well regarded figure amongst the HTH henchmen, this single feat propelled him right into the sporting hall of fame. Lezak is no doubt an elite swimmer, who has no personal coach and in '08 he was the oldest man on the US swim team.

He rose from behind in the final 25m of the 400m freestyle relay event, being led by world record holders France, who were convinced and had already claimed bragging rights to the Gold medal prior to the start of the race.  Lezak tailed Alain Bernard by a full bodies length advantage, yet split a 46 flat in the final moments, making it the fastest 100m freestyle split in the history of the sport.

I've attached this clip so you can really understand the sheer exuberance of the race:

I have watched this video over and over, I have downloaded several versions of the race to allow me to dissect every stroke.  Lezak smashing a historic split in the time that he did is phenomenal, it is almost as if someone hooked him and dragged him like a tuna on steroids through the final meters of the pool.

Getting behind the physical swim I saw that Lezak gets into the water at 2.38, to a first time viewer his stroke looks pretty similar to his french opponent.  His first turn is at 21.50 next to Bernard's 21.27, he is trailing behind like a dead fish, yet in the final 25m he runs down Bernard like he has been fuel injected.

Analyzing Lezak, I learnt that he is a full inch shorter than Bernard. His swim form displays a change in the last 50m, his left arm delays longer than the right which causes an interference with his breathing, therefore he is taking in less oxygen, which just poses more questions.

The lack of oxygen  effects the maximising on the purchase of the water and looking at Bernard, his efficient strokes vent smaller bursts and Lezak is literally launching his torso further out the water, requiring more energy, so physically how did he propel forward at such a pace?

I just cant get my head around it, the change of form, the interfered breathing, the energy required to plummet his body further out of the water, yet he rockets a full 9 inches forward in a matter of seconds to win the race!

I can only put it down to chemical synthesis.  Epinephrine or adrenaline as we know it, caused this incredible feat.  When the body surges adrenaline there is an increase of energy sent to the muscles, which boosts their ability to react.  Adrenaline finds its way to the heart which immediately boosts its rate and strength which increases the respiratory exchange.  More oxygen equals better performance.

Lezak is the human equivalent of a formula 1 car with fuel injection.  The science behind this victory is mind boggling.

Simply amazing feat of strength and power!