The question about TI techniques among competitive swimmers is whether TI makes you a faster swimmer through a more efficient and effortless stroke? My answer is an unequivocal yes!
I recently completed my USMS 1 hour postal swim for the local masters club I have been swimming with for the past seven years. I knew going in that my effort would probably fall short of previous years attempts. This was because on 1 January, 2011 I completed the swim portion of my local athletic clubs indoor Ironman event swimming 3500 meters in 1 hour and taking 8 more minutes to finish the 3900 meters. Thirty days later I completed the 1 hour postal swim. Initially I was disappointed with my results by not setting a new PR. I knew that my end of January 2011 effort totaling 4045 yards (3700 meters) was short of my previous swim in Jan 2008, 4165 yards but, was pleased that after a month of swimming 3 days a week I had gone 200 meters further in the hour. After several days of brooding I decided to compare this year’s attempt to the three previous attempts in 2006, 2007 and 2008. I did not complete the one-hour swim in 2009 or 2010 due to accepting a full time job in October of 2009 through September of 2010. This employment cut heavily into my swim training and I was unable to complete the swim with my masters club. My yearly mileage during 2006 totaled 116.46 miles and 185.56 miles during 2007. I was in peak swimming shape for the 2008 swim. Since my swimming had been cut back in 2009 and 2010 I took the opportunity when I was able to get in the pool, mostly by myself, to refocus and relearn TI techniques. It was during this time that I decided that I was going to pursue TI instructor certification and re-enter the swimming world as a TI coach. I worked extremely hard on my stroke over the last year and a half. In the last couple of months I have been getting more compliments on my stroke, even from my traditional master’s coach.
In reviewing the data I noticed that my splits compared to my PR were: end of the first 50 1.4 sec slower (42.9 v 41/5); 12.1 seconds at 500 m (50 split 47.6 v 45.7); 38 seconds at 1000 m (47.7 v 46.9); 33.5 seconds at 1500 m (48.9 v 46.8); 1:01.4 2000 m (49.7 v 48.1); 1:21.0 at 2500 m (49.5 v 49.2), 1:31.6 at 3000 m (48.7 v 47.9); 1:48.5 at 3500 (49.2 v 49.4); and a final 50 split of 45.1 v 45.3 finish. With approximately 2 minutes left in the swim I heard the deck crowd yelling for me to turn it on so I knew that I was within the magical 4000 yd mark, wigged out and reverted to kicking and pulling for all I had-what a mistake! The last 100 took more out of me than the previous 58 minutes had. I had let myself succumb to old competitive habits after meticulously holding 17-19 SPL for the entire swim. I didn’t even bother to count the last 100-don’t know where my mind went, but it was not where it should have stayed with mindful swimming!!
During the lead up to my swim I had concentrated on pyramid sets that Terry had mentioned in one forum between days of masters practices. At master practices I concentrated on making all the sets without compromising my TI stroke. I felt very relaxed during the swim and rotated my focal points as I swam. I enjoyed gliding past the swimmers next to me watching their stroke rates at least one and half to two times that of mine.
I am convinced that because of TI stroke technique that I was able to almost match (within 100 m or yds) my previous attempt TWO years earlier (2 years younger as well) with about a 1/3 of the conditioning. Additionally, my RPE (up till my insane mad dash at the end) was easily in the 3-5 range (compared to 8-10 in previous years) and would guess that my heart rate was no more than 120 and more likely less (based on perception).
Can’t wait for further results to show my improvement.