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galax 12-05-2011 03:18 PM

Need advice about free style practices
I need an advice.
On last 2 months my training was mainly oriented to improve stroke lenght.
I'm 5'11", I'm 47 y, my typical set is [4x25+3x50+2x75+1x100] and now I can sustain 17 strokes per lenght ( I did yesterday)
at slow frequence :
Without TT but slow rate: OK,
TT=1.35: OK
TT=1.30: OK ( great!! thanks to TI!!)
TT=1.25 OK for 25/50m, KO for 75/100
TT=1.20 OK for 25m, KO for 25/50/100

Then I turn to another target: faster rate, so I set my TT to 1.0 and I go for same set ([4x25+3x50+2x75+1x100])
Now I have 19 strokes only for the shortest stint: 25m, for longer the stroke number raise to 20-21 and I'm not fast: ( 1'09"/1'10" for 75m, 1'32"/1'34" for 100m) and I think my efficency level is slow.

Finally the question:
Which is the best way to improve, the first, striving for mantain 17 strokes at slow rate, with TT setted 1.25 / 1.20 , or, in the opposite direction get used to higher frequency ( TT range from 1.05 to 0.90)
trying to keep 19/20 strokes per lenght increasing distance from 25m to 400m or more?

Maybe both methods are OK, but which is the best approach for races in Open Water ( distance from 800 to 4k) or in the pool ( 800/1500m) when race's season incoming?

Thanks in advance.

andyinnorway 12-05-2011 05:36 PM

You might want to try the following, assuming your long term goal might be race pace of TT 1.1 with SPL equivalent of 16.

Warm up with some relaxed tempo lengths where you try to control your SPL and see if you can take it lower than normal.

e.g. try to swim 4x25 with decreasing SPL 18,17,16,15 and repeat once. Its a great skill to actually hit your target on each length as you teach your brain what a 15SPL length or 18 SPL length feels like each stroke.

I find this gives me a very fast tune up as the demands of increasing my stroke length give my muscles a stretch whilst my mind gets an immediate focus on balance and streamline.

It also starts to teach your body what an SPL of 17 feels like per stroke so that when you are training at your workout TT you should get some feedback as to when you start to lose stroke length and can compensate or correct.

Next take a main set similarly to how you describe above 25,50,75,100, trying to hold strokes per length. If you start to gain strokes try to analyse the cause. (with me its dropping legs causing drag).

Finally I would do some sprint work to teach my body the coordination of long strokes at faster stroke rates.

start TT at 1.20 and hold 16-17 spl for 25m, focus on reaching forward rather than pulling hard.

Once you have achieved 3 lengths at your spl target, take TT down 0.01/2 and repeat. Try to get to TT 1.1 or below and hold your SPL, depending on how much time you have.

End your session with an enjoyable cruise of 200m or so without TT and time yourself for interest, see if this goes down over time.

This is a bit of a cover all set and needs some time to complete, you are teaching yourself how shorter SPL feels at the start, working on stamina and consistent efficiency in the middle, adjusting to faster stroke rate in the middle without comprimising SPL and finally, developing a relaxed race pace that will improve overtime.

Let me know if you try it and it helps.

Think I will do it myself tomorrow, just found a 50m pool an hour a way that I didnt know about.

galax 12-06-2011 07:57 AM

I have a lot of work to do!
The target: SR 1.1 and SPL 16 won't be easy to achieve.

Actually, for 1 lenght, with appropriate rest, I can use 16 stroke per lenght,
sometimes 15 with very slow rate and not for all attempts. Typical during this ladder on 25m
TT=1.50 1.60 1.70 1.80 1.90 2.00 1.90 1.80 1.70 1.60 1.50
I use 15 strokes only for SR lower than 1.7!!

There is a gulf between this kind of swim and my typical swim during workout session when my stroke rate
varying from 1.30 to 1.0.

Many thanks Andyinnorway,for your good practice plan.

andyinnorway 12-06-2011 01:15 PM


Originally Posted by galax (Post 24077)
The target: SR 1.1 and SPL 16 won't be easy to achieve.

you don't want it to be easy do you? just rewarding and fun. As soon as you do your first 100m at 1.1 in 64 strokes you are going to feel pretty excited and its probably nearer than you think.

Good luck.

AWP 12-07-2011 12:55 AM


Originally Posted by galax (Post 24077)
TT= 1.60 1.70 1.80 1.90 2.00 1.90 1.80 1.70 1.60 1.50
There is a gulf between this kind of swim and my typical swim during workout session when my stroke rate
varying from 1.30 to 1.0.

This is a great tune-up to get control of not only your stroke length to rate but to also hone your balance and streamline, as I'm sure you're finding out.
I did this exact exercise today in my continuation of getting back to where I feel I was this time last winter, before my erratic season schedule (or lack there of) of swimming.
To my surprise this exact focus, plus all my recent practices along these lines, helped me to achieve a PB for 500 yards today! The best part was in achieving this without trying.
I decided to take my focus for a ride, first thinking of an 'open ended' swim of 10 minutes concentrating on holding different stroke lengths per 100 yards, but decided on a measured swim of 500 yards. I'd mark the time for future comparison and still cycle through stroke lengths beginning with trying to hold 14 spl. I was able to maintain an average spl of 14 through the first 200 yards then added 1 then 2 strokes through the next 200 yards, 16 avg. spl on the last 100.
I played with a focus on reducing strokes on the odd lengths of the last 200 yards or so, taking 16 spl on a length then 'slowing' my stroke to achieve 14 (or 15 as it were) on the next and so on. When I touched the wall I realized I'd just swum my first sub 7 minute 500! My goal of last year, but better late than never. 6:56 will be my new benchmark for future improvement.
I, of course, doubted myself and so immediately swam two consecutive 100 yard repeats at the same (or less) perceived effort and came in at under 1:25. Followed this with a couple of 50 yard repeats at :41. This confirmed that my pace time was probably correct.
I'll probably continue to use this TT exercise, perhaps at quicker tempos and adding a new challenge. Likewise allowing, if necessary, a higher stroke count per length if my 'gains' are plausible.
Incidentally, I failed to mention my intended focuses for that aborted open ended swim that ended up a 500. I was to focus on 100s of "a floating lead arm" then "kick to spear" timing then holding an arm full of water.
By far the focus that I felt gave me the feeling needed to maintain stroke length and a sense of ease (which led to my apparent PB) was that of a floating lead arm followed by a light pressured but firmly positioned catch. This was spurred by my earlier reading of a post, by Andyinnorway I believe, which included a video of Steve Tarpinian demonstrating stroke technique. In it, while showing the arm position of the stroking arm during the "catch phase", he mentions (happily to me) that " it's not a powerful movement" but merely a prelude to the stroking or pulling phase, what we TIers consider "holding water" (or gathering moon beams) or "anchoring". Holding this firm position with light pressure then allows me to focus on a relaxed recovery and clean, quiet entry to extension.
This is what Terry advocates as "soft hook" and talks about (and illustrates) in his own swimming "by applying little pressure" during the stroking phase. Remembering this, in turn, is what led to my floating arm/ light pressure focus for my swim.
I'll report back with any future input/ insight for those interested.
(Sorry for hijacking the thread, and btw, this is a PB for long posts)

terry 12-07-2011 01:32 AM

Not a thread-hijacking. Rather you contributed aspiration and inspiration.
I'm really impressed with your sub-7:00 500 yds. and especially that it happened, when you weren't overtly pursuing it.
Also great advice from Andy.
Galax, if you find your SPL increases by excessive increments, then adjust your tempo by smaller increments.
I just posted today's practice here. I didn't use TT, only SPL and time today. My post is #11, top thread on p. 2.

galax 12-09-2011 07:38 AM

Yesterday I did as first 4x25.
My intention was 18-17-16-15 strokes, the result : 17-17-16-15 !!
Very good. Now I'll try to be able to use 16-15 strokes either for 50-75-100m, in this way I hope to build a "good ground" and then begin to raise stroke rate.

Thanks to all

CoachSuzanne 12-13-2011 03:24 AM


Originally Posted by galax (Post 24254)
Yesterday I did as first 4x25.
My intention was 18-17-16-15 strokes, the result : 17-17-16-15 !!
Very good. Now I'll try to be able to use 16-15 strokes either for 50-75-100m, in this way I hope to build a "good ground" and then begin to raise stroke rate.

Thanks to all

Good approach. Great advice in this thread. I'd suggest continuing to do these "calibration" sets to develop the ability to choose SPL and execute your choice. You don't have to do ONLY 15-16..if you've chosen to do 18 and can hit it and hold it, that's valuable too.

You could follow that set with descending 50s like 15-15, 16-16, 17-17, 18, 18 and back down (maybe with a rest), or even this:
15-16, 16-17, 17-18, 18-18, 18-17, 17-16, 16-15. (7x50=350)

Have fun and keep us updated.

galax 12-21-2011 08:23 AM

yesterday practice
Nice practice yesterday: with 16 strokes I reach 75m! ( 3 laps )
I had this sensation: increasing body roll give me more "momentum" in stroking, so the effort of propulsion is not limited to pull, in this way I can sustain this swim for longer distances.
I understand that, at first, I have to tran my brain, so I have to begin my session with 3x50 with balance/relaxation thoughts and then with
3x50 with Streamline/Swim Taller thoughts as
Unfoutunately today I had a bad cold, I live in north of Italy in Alps region and now it's bitterly cold.
I hope to get well soon, I would like to have 2 practice before Christmas, I don't want loose this "magic moment".
Next time I'll try 50 descending set showed by CoachSuzanne

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