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thomasusa80 09-29-2014 11:37 AM

Time prowler here yet this is my first post
Hello there,

I am long time prowler here yet this is my first post. I've been rehearsing TI in excess of 8 months now, first self guiding then with mentor Stuart (incredible mentor however perhaps not all that good answering to messages, haha :-).

I know one of the TI mantras is to "never practice battle". So focused around that rule this time I haven't generally swam more than 100 yards at the time and would stop when I would perceive my stroke falling apart and stroke tally beginning to go up. I swam a considerable amount, normally 6 times/week for 45-60 min.

I made some extraordinary upgrades to my stroke, particularly since beginning to work with mentor Stuart. However then a week ago I did olympic separation tri and couple hundred yards into the swim my stroke broke apart and I had really intense swim and to a degree frustrating time. However this is not what my inquiry is about.

The thing is, few days after the fact in the pool I recognized the amount less demanding the swimming has ended up. The greater part of the sudden I could now swim 300 yards pretty effectively and keep the stroke tally predictable. Its like that 1500 yard swim, despite the fact that I working on only battle for everything except 200 yards, has developed some perseverance which now permits me to swim longer separates skillfully.

So my inquiry is - perhaps we do need to do longer sets to plan for more swims ? Regardless of the fact that we may not be blazing the most productive stroke into the muscle memory we are building muscle perseverance that then permits to practice proficient stroke for more separations. Obviously I am talking intermittent long set, perhaps 1000 yards once a week. I ponder what are your considerations about this or on the off chance that you had comparable encounters with this ?

terry 09-29-2014 12:24 PM

You ask very good questions. Is your mentor TI Coach Stuart McDougal in LA?

I'll address the question of "Never practice struggle' first. While it's true that it's not a good idea to do lap after lap imprinting an inefficiency in muscle memory, at the same time, some of your practice should be designed to expose weak points in your technique or body control.

For example, let's say you're doing a Tempo Trainer set where you gradually increase Tempo, while counting strokes. You start at (to pick a number) 1.30 and increase at .05 second increments and suppose this happens
1.30 15 SPL
1.25 16 SPL
1.20 16 SPL
1.15 17 SPL
1.10 19 SPL

And suppose your Green Zone range of efficient stroke counts is from 15 to 18.

That set provided valuable information: Somewhere between 1.15 and 1.10 Tempo, you abruptly add two strokes (where prior changes were 0 to 1 stroke) AND SPL rose above your Green Zone.

That tells you, for the moment, you should practice at tempos a bit slower than 1.10. That's not practice struggle. It's discovering what conditions CAUSE struggle. After a week or two at Tempos around, say, 1.12 you'll probably find that 1.10 is no longer such a struggle.

The second question to address is what happened during your triathlon swim. The difficult condition you encounter here isn't necessarily the distance--i.e. swimming 1500m continuously, where you normally swim 100m repeats in practice.

It's probably more likely that the combination of being in open water AND feeling race pressure caused you to experience struggle. And there are other ways to address that weakness. For instance practicing in open water with a friend or two and intentionally swimming quite close while intent on maintaining a calm, observant INNER focus (on a familiar focal point). At first swim with small space separating you. Then swim so closely that you have occasional light contact--leg to leg, hip to hip, or arm to arm during recovery.

It's a separate skill to maintain form--and relaxation--in those conditions, after already mastering the ability to maintain it in the pool.

And finally there's the question whether it's necessary to swim, say, 1500m continuous in the pool in order to maintain form for 1500 continuous during an event -- whether that event is 1500m race in the pool, or tri swim leg in open water.

I don't believe so. I strongly recommend that 90% or more of pool practice repeats be 200m or shorter. You simply do more of those repeats to prepare for longer events. I've swum marathons ranging from 10km to 40km or more quite successfully on pool training that rarely exceeded 200m continuously.

I believe shorter repeats are best because you
1) Maintain better form and focus; and
2) Swim faster paces (which means faster tempos with same stroke count) with less fatigue.
than is possible on longer repeats.

CoachStuartMcDougal 09-29-2014 04:49 PM

Hi Thomas,

I apologize if I haven't responded to you, if I'm the Stuart you are referring to. I have missed emails in the noise, get tons of email. You could be sending messages to an old email address "" - this service has been discontinued. Use to drop me a line.

Terry's response and advice is of course sound. I rarely take my masters swimmers above 200m, and do short focused repeats - each week is a new theme (hip drive, connecting to the core, lengthening the vessel, race prep, etc) . But also, have swimmers get comfortable swimming in a crowd, and close contact both in pool and open water. I suspect as Terry noted, you blew up in the first 200 yards of your race due to not being prepared for the environment at the start of the swim, and everything fell apart. This is very common and see at least 10% of swimmers in each wave of a triathlon distressed at first buoy trying to recover. So I suspect it was more environment, and not because you didn't swim longer single sets.

In any case, feel free to drop me a line at


CoachHeikoStribl 10-01-2014 03:13 AM

Hi Eduard,

Just a quick pointer....

Originally Posted by thomasusa80 (Post 48673)
Regardless of the fact that we may not be blazing the most productive stroke into the muscle memory we are building muscle perseverance that then permits to practice proficient stroke for more separations.

So what goodd will the "muscle perserverance" actually do? Compare it to running where you might have a inclination to tilt your upper body to,the right (example), causing your back to ache. Do you then want to build distance? With a bad posture?

The learning curve in TI is a amzing experience. To rely on improving your skill by just setting the focus point (note "point" as in one) is a rewarding experience and in my experience helped me advance more than trying to build muscle perseverance.

Means I'm still a skinny swimmer though.


Talvi 10-04-2014 04:09 PM

For me, distance feels good
I posted across the way on the FS forum asking for advice on practice for longer distance swims, and Terry gives it here I see, but in the absence of that on my thread, in the meantime I've been doing something different: extending the distance I can swim continuously for. This is my experience FWIW .....

In mid-June last year I could only swim FS for 100m. About a year ago I did my first mile. After that I practiced only short intervals, mostly 50s and 100s, with longer intervals but only occasionally any more than 600m, and by June this year I had begun to feel like I simply couldn't keep going for any longer interval. That to upset me, as my form didn't feel like it was improving much either!

In August the lake was warm enough for me to start swimming further but still I only went 500m before feeling I had to pause and float about for a minute or so before continuing. The idea of doing the Bosphorous swim as the centrepiece of a holiday in Turkey then popped up and I changed strategy. Rather than hope that distance would simply come again, I made the decision to keep on swimming, regardless, and see how far I could go.

Over the last month in the pool I've gone from doing 1km, which was a great relief, to yesterday completing a 2.5km interval. After these "long" intervals (can't call them long in a thread where Terry's talking about continuous 40km's!) I do short intervals, some "sprint" 100's etc.

What I find doing distance is that as I tire my stroke is forced to become more efficient. Muscles that are moving unecessarily just give up. It's like Occam's razor for swimming! Also, the way the tiredness affects me teaches me, by showing me what it is I am actually doing. My shoulder or neck might start to ache so I am obliged to find a better way to move my arm or relax my neck. When I start to struggle I get back to the basics of streamlining and breathing. It seems to work. My 100m pace for the 2.5 was 2:13, hardly trailblazing but still an improvement on the 2:20+ I was at 4 weeks ago.

I'm not sure I understand what muscle perseverance means, perhaps stamina, and in my case, yesterday for instance, I was noticeably far less tired after the 2.5km and after the session, than I had been four weeks ago after a 1km interval.

I definitely do need to do short intervals to focus, but, perhaps I am at a certain stage of fitness and experience, I don't feel that distance swimming is and not practising struggle, in the sense of ingraining poor technique.

Now that I am almost at my target of 3km (9 months early on a 10 month program), my aim is to reduce my spl without increasing the effort. Yesterday the first km was at 18spl while the rest was at 20spl. I know I can get it down to 16spl because there are some lengths at that DPS buried in there, and at the time I have no real sense of which laps these were. I do know though that they are not the laps that I am working hardest in.

Doing distance does perhaps detract from the keenness of any specific focus, because the focus is on the whole stroke and what can be cut out or improved in order to keep going, but for me at the moment I feel it really has benefits.

terry 10-05-2014 11:05 AM

If you can maintain form and focus, by all means do the occasional longer swim as a benchmark.
When you do a longer swim, you'll gain far more benefit if you do it with a clear goal and purpose of minimizing change in some critical metric.
I.E. Can you do the following
4 x 100
3 x 200
2 x 300
1 x 400
while keeping SPL within a range of 3-4 strokes AND in your Green Zone.

For a more exacting challenge repeat that with a Tempo Trainer.
Perhaps the first time you do the set, slow Tempo by .02 each time you lengthen repeat distance
E.G. 100s at 1.20, 200s at 1.22, 300s at 1.24, 400 at 1.26.

If you succeed at SPL control, a week or two later try it again increasing Tempo by only .01--E.G. from 1.20 to 1.23.

If you're successful again, next time you do the benchmark keep Tempo unchanged.

Or you might stay at each level until you keep SPL within a range of 3 strokes, rather than 4.

Work at incremental and measured improvement in your capability to swim distance efficiently.

Talvi 10-06-2014 09:10 AM

Thanks for replying Terry. Appreciated.

Over the last year, between doing my first 1km and my recent 2+km swims, my sessions have been pretty much exactly what you suggest. In these, my spl has generally been in the middle of my green zone and within 2 for a session.

Last week I tried the suggestions in your Guaranteed to Improve Stroke Length thread. I didn't get any variation in my spl doing that, bar a few exceptions it stayed stubbornly at 16 from the get go, but that was good as previously it had been 18. Maybe this was due just to having the TT so slow. Anyway, for anything more than 100m sets, I'm not sure if using the TT is helping or hindering me now though.

In my Friday 2.5km I wore no TT and swam the first km at 2:13 and 18spl and the last 500m at 2:11 and 20spl. Overall I did it at 2:13. After that I swam 250m with my TT set to 1.40 and the data for that was 2:16 and 22spl !! I was stunned, so I took the TT off and swam a set of 22 x 25m's, to try and correct whatever had gone wrong. My spl went immediately to 16, but I was simming slower than 1.40. The closest lap to 1.40 (maybe 1.50) I did at 18spl and just shy of 2:00.

My theory for all this is that the TT diverts my attention from my stroke which still is something I have to pay a lot of general attention to.

rami999 07-20-2018 10:01 PM

Wow Thats nice

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