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CoachStuartMcDougal 04-29-2018 12:24 AM


Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin (Post 65263)

I had been attempting that 30 x 50m set, but was finding myself at 18 SPL to make the :43 pace for each repeat. Coach Stuart encouraged me to try lowing my SPL. I was skeptical (actually quite certain I wouldn't be able to make the times at 16) but gave it a try, with the results described above.

Hi Tom,

Good to hear and reflect on that progress you made, nice work! Although I yield to or encourage increasing stroke length, but also reducing turnover or tempo to get to the lower workload. Really reducing rate of turnover increases stroke length. But we're not aiming for the fewest or zero strokes but what works best given height (or wingspan), turnover rate (tempo), current skill set and distance you are swimming - not stroke length only.

Often swimmers perceive dropping strokes is the primary goal - it's not. Dropping strokes is frequently achieved in error by 1. longer flight off the wall, and/or 2. pausing or stalling high side (recovery) arm at hip to gain longer distance per stroke, and/or 3. pausing.slowing recovery arm just before entry. All are introducing errors in distance and stroke. The later, #2 and #3 are common errors. Stalling at the hip, triggers a deceleration, lost momentum and imbalance sticking arm weight and its momentum at the hip. Stalling at entry sends momentum of high side arm down instead of forward - causing the "bobbing swimmer"

I think John@NewPaltz noted the added effort to get 10 or 8 strokes across the pool, I'm assuming 25y pool. If a swimmer is taking 8 strokes after 5y yard glide offf the wall, I can bet there's a hitch at hip (stopping in a skate position) to achieve that low stroke count.

The arm starts and finishes at forward extension, one continuous, fluid movement with no hitches or pauses at hip or at entry.

So it's not just increasing stroke length to decrease workload, but more about frequency or tempo, rate of turnover - but both stroke length and tempo have to be tested and experimented with each swimmer to find out what works best for them given the event or distance they're swimming.


Streak 04-29-2018 01:47 AM


Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin (Post 65252)

I have also experienced exactly what Coach Stuart predicted when in a challenging 30 x 50m set (:45/50m pace, :20 rest), I focused on maintaining SPL of 16 or less. I found myself able to do it. Halfway through the set I was hitting 15 SPL. Then 14. I never got tired, and completed the whole set easily, and at lower SPL than planned. So, done correctly, Coach Stuart is right--lower SPL = lower exertion.

Hi Tom,
I have been doing a lot of 50 yard asymmetrical pyramids using the TT. It's been a huge eye opener for me. I start at 1.1 going down in .1 interval to 0.8 and then up in .05 up back to 1.1. Where before I found anything 1.2 or faster too hard, I now find 1.1 fairly comfortable specially after coming back up from 0.8.

Now, with respect to your comments above. When I am doing this set I am at about an SPL of 17 increasing to about 20 at the 0.8 pace. I am able to do 14-15 SPL but at a very pedestrian pace. My 50 yard time above start at about 45s and go down to 40s at the faster tempo. If I then try and do a 14-15 SPL my time will be closer to 48 seconds.

I guess I am not yet at that point in my journey where I can do the faster times at lower SPL. Higher tempos (faster turnover) has to lead to faster speeds but at higher SPL I have always struggled to grasp the concept of maintaining these speeds but at lower SPL.

Tom Pamperin 04-29-2018 02:03 AM


Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal (Post 65278)
Hi Tom,

Good to hear and reflect on that progress you made, nice work!

Thanks--a lot of that I credit to your ideas on this forum. My perceived effort levels are so much lower than they were two months ago, I'd guess speed and SPL are similar.

Do you have any thoughts about my hypothesis that by starting to "grip" the water and move the underwater arm back sooner, I have gotten rid of a habitual (but unnoticed) tendency to overglide? I think that glide time, and the resulting acceleration/deceleration, may have been holding me back and getting in the way of proper timing for stroke and kick.


Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal (Post 65278)
I think John@NewPaltz noted the added effort to get 10 or 8 strokes across the pool, I'm assuming 25y pool. If a swimmer is taking 8 strokes after 5y yard glide offf the wall, I can bet there's a hitch at hip (stopping in a skate position) to achieve that low stroke count.

I believe he said he's in a 20y pool, not 25y.


Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal (Post 65278)
The arm starts and finishes at forward extension, one continuous, fluid movement with no hitches or pauses at hip or at entry.

Yes, another change I'm noticing with my reduced glide/extension is that my recovering arm is entering the water with more momentum. I suppose I had also been slowing down just before entry, or I would not be noticing increased momentum now. But again, the momentum seems to be a side effect of doing other things correctly, it wasn't a conscious goal.

Thanks again for sharing your insights here--I really appreciate it. I've never competed, or had a coach, or even a lesson (except for one session with Dave Cameron back when I didn't really know what I was doing--he showed me that!)--all of my progress has been because of TI self-coaching materials, and advice from this forum. It's a great way to learn.

Tom Pamperin 04-29-2018 02:21 AM


thanks for the input. I keep saying I need to do TT work but I keep avoiding it because I'm enjoying beep-free swimming so much. But I really should do some TT work...


Originally Posted by Streak (Post 65281)
Higher tempos (faster turnover) has to lead to faster speeds

This is probably obvious, but that's true only if your SPL stays the same or gets lower. You can certainly increase turnover without increasing speed--that may be the most common error I see in people trying to "swim fast."

From which I have drawn this inference:

TT work to get used to higher tempos is effective. But if we can maintain only a certain percentage of our distance per stroke as we increase stroke rate--in other words, if eventually you will be at a stroke rate too fast to maintain your SPL (which I think is true about increasing stroke rates)--

Then IF the percentage is constant or nearly constant***, it makes sense to focus on increasing distance per stroke (i.e. reducing SPL) without paying attention to tempo. Because if I can increase my default distance per stroke (reduce my SPL) at slow tempos, then when I increase my stroke rate (i.e. tempo) I'll also have a longer stroke at that higher stroke rate.

***I doubt it is constant for all swimmers--I think the percentage varies with individual swimmers. I'd predict the percentage also gets higher as technique improves, and ALSO gets higher due to familiarity with faster tempos. In other words, a well-trained swimmer with good technique will be able to hold a much higher percentage of his distance per stroke than a beginner as tempo increases.

In other words, if my "default" distance per stroke (DPS) is 1.6 meters, and I can hold 90% (wild guess for sake of argument) of that distance at a faster tempo, I'll have a DPS of 1.44 meters.

Then, after I increase my "default" DPS to 1.8 meters through slow focused short repeats, ignoring tempo, my DPS at faster speeds will be 1.62 meters. With that new longer DPS, I'll be faster at any tempo.

Just idle theorizing--but it's my guess at how the ability to swim long strokes (low SPL) increases swimming speed at higher tempos, even if we don't do TT work to specifically work on faster tempos. I'm not advocating getting rid of all TT work, just speculating on other ways to build speed with TI practice.

TT work is very quantitative and scientific. I find other, more intuitive, "feel" based approaches to practice, more interesting and enjoyable right now. Probably everyone should do some of each for fastest progression. But going without a TT seems to let/force me to tune in more deeply to my own body and the sensations it is experiencing.

If anyone has thoughts about my "percentage of DPS" theory, I'd love to hear them.

Bada Bing 04-30-2018 09:31 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi Tom,

If you are ever in England, you might like to join us on the water. Hopefully no need for swimming................Hopefully.
See attachment.

WFEGb 04-30-2018 12:39 PM

Hello Tom,


If anyone has thoughts about my "percentage of DPS" theory, I'd love to hear them.
TI's GZ is a bandwidth of your "percentage of DPS". What's exactly best for everyone, seems to be an indvidual matter of SR and RPE. Stuart gave some different examples of his swimmers. For me there seems to be something I'd like to call "Magical SPL". Curious, if others found the similar "effect". For me it's for some years constant 16SPL (68% - SCM-pool). I can swim it with SRs down to 1.14s and higher than 1.70s. But strange: Only one and then I'll find the 16SPL easy to hold for more than around 200m. And I have to focus on.

If I want to swim relaxed, what Mat calls "Cruising Stroke" or "Forever-Stroke", the SPL goes down to 15SPL (72%) and SR up to around 1.50s. (I know I'm slow...)

When I try to swim a bit more what Terry called "firm", 16SPL seem just to be achieved randomly. 15SPL, 17SPL, 18SPL, even 14SPL seems easier than to hit the magic 16SPL more than one or two times in a row...

But if we are ever in a stage where we still can decide, if we should lengthen the stroke or go to a higher SR, I'd prefer the first for earning more. Must say, I'm still missing the Feeling, a higher SR with same SPL gives me an advantage with more refreshing air... Still hoping it will happen some time...

Best regards,

John@NewPaltz 05-01-2018 02:15 AM

Yeah, I'm around 10 SPL in a 20 yard pool and I can work it down to 8 SPL under minor speed sacrifices. (I can also work it down to 7, but that looks ridiculous and is much slower).

I've taken away some very good help from this discussion:
1. The risk of "overgliding" is real and everybody tends to overglide when trying to minimize SPL. I'm still not 100% sure how to notice, that you start "overgliding". Coach Stuart, what exactly do you take into account when optimizing (not minimizing) SPL? Is the biggest part of it that it "must feel fluent"?
2. The "green zone" from Coach Stuart is a really good target area. Of course it's only a zone and you might be in the upper, middle or lower part of the zone. However, chances are darn good, that your optimum is within this zone.

Another thing, I'd like to add and ask:
When reducing SPL at constant pace, most of your changes in technique will be good changes and contribute to higher efficiency. However (and that's kinda confirming what Tom was experiencing, too), given a certain skill level, there are a couple percent (let it be 2%, maybe 5%, idk) that you can gain at very high costs:
1. Overstretching your entire upper body while spearing: a longer body line helps, but "overstretching" is strenuous.
2. Pulling stronger (and therefore faster) than would be natural.
3. "Overstretching" your ankles, i.e. stretching them more than your flexibility comfortably allows.
These are all examples for "optimizations", which are not energy-efficient, but will improve (increase) your pace/SPL ratio (assuming that balance and streamlining is already quite advanced). My question is: where's the sweet spot? How do I find out "how much" of these three things I should incorporate? That's a non-trivial optimization-problem to me. What do you guys think?
Simply taking perceived exertion sounds a little too error-prone to me.

Tom Pamperin 05-01-2018 04:05 AM


great questions. I kind of think the current TI thinking might be along these lines: do however much to lengthen your stroke that you can sustain for the pace and time you are aiming for.

There seem to be some ever-shifting priorities in my own practice:

1. Work to be as perfect as you can (my work with low SPL at slow speeds is an example)

2. Work to increase speed while maintaining you current level of perfection, both by maintaining SPL while increasing tempo, AND by decreasing SPL while maintaining tempo

3. Work to increase the distance you can swim while maintaining your current level of perfection

4. Practice at your current optimal performance level (i.e. the SR and SPL that will give you the best performance right now, even if that's not as perfect as you can be)

5. Work to increase awareness and focus

And one that's missing from your list, but I think might be the most important for me:

6. Work to use less effort for the same results

Not really an answer to your questions, I know. Are there answers, once and for all? I kind of think not.

Streak 05-01-2018 05:44 AM

Those are some great objectives. Today I swam 100 at 15 SPL, then swam the same at 17 SPL, same speed. One conclusion, why use 17 strokes for what can be achieved only using 15! Another conclusion, something must be wrong because using if I used an extra 2 strokes then my time should have been better.

I then set the TT to 1.10.
Did a 100 at about 15-16 SPL at a time of 1:32.
Then I tried to relax a bit more, SPL went up to about 17 and time went up to 1:36.
Relax obviously lead to shorter DPS. less effort, worse time.
Then really focused again and got back to 1:32 at 16-17 SPL.

Switched off the annoying beeping in my ear and just headed out for another 100.
SPL was closer to 18-19, time was 1:30.

Conclusion - I am a very unconventional swimmer and none of this makes any sense to me.

WFEGb 05-01-2018 08:06 AM

Hello Streak,

as above, I do know similar effects, and sometimes ask me the same.

Additional questions:

Are you carrying the same (other) FP (except beeps and SPL) with you all through this "experiment"?

Are these effects always the same, no matter on which FP you're working?

How do you find your day's best combination of SPL and SR for a swim of, let's say more than 400m? (...Stopwatch, calculation or feeling, or both a bit?)

Best regards,

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