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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02579

Exploratory analysis of treading water coordination and the influence of task and environmental constraints

  • 1University of Otago, New Zealand
  • 2University of Groningen, Netherlands
  • 3Université de Strasbourg, France

The radical embodied cognition approach to behavior requires emphasis upon how humans adapt their motor skills in response to changes in constraint. The aim of this exploratory study was to identify how the typical coordination patterns used to tread water were influenced by constraints representative of open water environments. Twenty-three participants were measured while treading water (TW) in a swimming flume in four conditions: a) in still water, wearing a bathing suit (baseline); b) wearing typical outdoor clothing (clothed); c) with an additional cognitive task imposed (dual task), and; d) against a changing current (flow). Mixed methods kinematic analysis revealed four different TW coordination patterns were used across the conditions. The four TW patterns used represent a hierarchy of expertise in terms of the capacity to generate continuous lift forces, where pattern 1 (the lowest skill level) involving predominantly pushing and kicking limb movements (N=1); pattern 2, was a movement pattern consisting of legs pushing/kicking and arms sculling (N=7); pattern 3 was synchronous sculling of all four limbs (N=6); and pattern 4 was the ‘eggbeater kick’ (the highest skill level), with asynchronous sculling movements of the legs (N=9). The four TW patterns were generally robust to the modified constraints. The higher skilled patterns (i.e., patterns 3 and 4) appeared to be the most stable coordination patterns. These results suggest that learning to perform more complex patterns to tread water might be an asset to survive in life-threatening situations.

Keywords: Aquatic skills, coordination, Drowning, Lifesaving, stability

Received: 31 May 2019; Accepted: 31 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Button, Brouwer, Schnitzler and De Poel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Chris Button, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand,