How the “Dolphin Kick” changed Swimming forever | On the Line


I used to do like four or five dolphin kicks off the walls and that would probably
get me about five to seven metres
underwater. It was 1984,
nobody was using it. I started, but
the next generation came around and took it further than I did. I might be the one that
originated and started this but they really took it
through Olympic level. (THE RISE OF THE DOLPHIN KICK
SEOUL 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES) So now we’re moments away from
the start of the 100-metre backstroke, 100 metres out and back. It’s over fast
and they start underwater, three of the swimmers,
for extended periods of time. And a Berkoff blast-off
in lane 4. Look at this, 10, 20 metres, only three people on the
surface, five underwater. Six, six up… Seven up…
Murphy still under. But Berkoff has the lead. Berkoff comes out of the water
with the lead. He has turned this into a 35-metre start
and a 65-metre swim. And now under a world record
split again, or just above it, but Berkoff has the lead. David Berkoff starts down the final straight
of this 100-metre backstroke. He’s being challenged
and very strongly now, by Suzuki,
and coming up is Polyansky… (LOS ANGELES 1984
OLYMPIC GAMES) (JESSE VASSALLO
OLYMPIAN 1984 – USA) Hello. As a young swimmer,
I used to play around a lot
underwater with my fins and I was pretty fast doing
butterfly kick under the water. But in 1976 I was at the US Nationals,
I was 14 years old and I was swimming
the 200 backstroke next to John Naber. John was a very big guy
and I’m a short guy. I was just saying to myself, “If I get behind him
on the starts, “I’m going to be swimming
on his wake the whole time”. So I decided to do the underwaters coming off the starts and it worked pretty well and after that I continued to develop it
and use it in my turns and stuff like that. (IGOR POLYANSKY
BRONZE MEDAL – USSR/RUSSIA) Hello? FrOM 1987, many, many swimmers
from different countries, the United States and Russia
and Japan and from Europe started to practise
more butterfly kick underwater because it’s much, much faster than backstroke swim
on the top level of water. Many swimmers like
David Berkoff or Daichi Suzuki were very good
butterfly kick underwater, plus flexible,
if you’re strong enough for it, and of course the speed
underwater was very fast. Daichi and Berkoff
were much faster than me in butterfly kick underwater,
especially because backstroke sprint
is a short distance, especially for short courses,
they were one of the best. 1988 was my first
Olympic Games, I was 21 years old, and 200-metre backstroke
and 100-metre backstroke it was very suitable
for me to make a podium. (MEN’S 100 METRES
BACKSTROKE FINAL) (INDOOR SWIMMING POOL, OLYMPIC
PARK, 24 SEPTEMBER 1985) (DAICHI SUZUKI
GOLD MEDAL – JAPAN) Hello. Just before starting the
race, I transformed into a warrior
and in my mind, all I desired in that moment
was to be the number one. I was in the third lane. As you know,
there is a short presentation where they say,
“the third lane, Daichi Suzuki” and you greet the public
by waving. As I walked then, I noticed that
my legs were shaking. And I realised
how nervous I was. I always practised the dolphin kick under
the water every morning and I did it always
with swim fins. So I can’t say exactly
how long I could do it because I used to wear fins
during training but 50 metres
was very easy for me. Next to me, there was David Berkoff
in the fourth lane. I saw his face but he looked
more nervous than me. And it made me think that I wasn’t the only one
feeling nervous, so maybe I had a chance to win. I’m not sure exactly for my
race for 100-metre backstroke because it happened so quick. David and Suzuki swam faster than me
the first 50 metres because they have a very good strong
butterfly kick underwater, but one of my main goals
was try to swim with the second 50 metres
backstroke as fast as possible. I was under the water for only
25 metres in the primary race. I knew that Berkoff stayed
under the water for 35 metres
in the primary race because I’d watched his video
and it meant that we had a 10-metre difference. So this time,
my strategy was to swim 30 metres
under the water instead of 25
as I did in primary. Since many years before, I knew that one day
I would compete in the race against Berkoff and Polyansky, so I always did
image training against them. I did it many times every day.
At least once a day, every day, imagining that I could win in the last second
against them. So when I finished the race
and I watched the video, I saw that the race had
happened exactly as I’d always imagined. I feel really proud to have competed against Berkoff and Polyansky. They were from great countries, like the Soviet Union
and the United States, and I personally feel very satisfied
to have beaten them. After winning in the Olympics,
wherever I went, everybody would recognise me. I was well known
by many people but I couldn’t concentrate well on competition after that. Being a champion
of the Olympics made my life confused for a while. (KIM BANG-HYUN, OLYMPIAN 1996,
2000 AND 2004, SOUTH KOREA) I think that race just gave a whole media attention,
the worldwide attention. It was one
of the most unorthodox and chaotic beginnings
of a 100 backstroke race ever, with five
of the eight finalists going at least 25 metres
underwater from the start. You’ll never see this any
more. I think that just opened
everybody’s eyes up, saying, “Oh, why is everybody
underwater kicking that far?” They’re faster than the people
swimming above the water. So that was sort of like
an eye opener not just for the public, but also for coaches
and for other swimmers as well. The unofficial winner, Daichi Suzuki, Japan. 55.05. (SUZUKI D) I met Suzuki
and Suzuki told me that many years back,
when I was in Japan in of those clubs, he was one
of the swimmers there. So he said, “You know, “I learned that day
about the Vassallo technique”. And they called it the Vassallo technique
from then on. It’s an honour! And it was really nice
to hear him recognise that. (THE INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING
FEDERATION, FINA,) (CHANGED THE RULE AFTER THE
1988 OLYMPIC GAMES.) (A SWIMMER’S HEAD
SHOULD BREAK THE SURFACE) (BY 10 METRES
IN THE BACKSTROKE.) (IT WAS EXPANDED TO 15 METRES
IN 1991, WHICH STANDS TODAY.) (ON THE LINE)

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