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LennartLarsson 08-21-2010 02:12 PM

A new experience by TT

Look at this please:

TT Time/100 meter

01.16 01.32
01.14 01.32
01.12 01.33
01.14 01.34
01.12 01.35
01.10 01.33
01.12 01.33
01.10 01.32
01.08 01.31
01.10 01.32
01.08 01.30
01.06 01.30
01.04 01.29
01.02 01.27
01.00 01.26

My plan was to swim 5 x (3x100 mtr) going down 0,02 for 3 consecutive swims, then start a new round by starting point 0,02 above the fastest in the last round. I became more and more frustrated because nothing really happened. For my last round I decide to swim at a stroke rate, that I have not tried before. So from 1.10 down to 1.00 it started to look better. An increase in stroke rate with 9 % resulted in an increased speed of almost 7 %. That makes some kind of sense. How do you interpret this information? Am I too lazy swimming around 1.14 instead of 1.00 or what? Shall I swim my sessions at or around 1.00 instead?


terry 08-22-2010 03:51 AM

When I use Tempo Trainer I just use the information to guide subsequent decisions on set design. This use of TT excites me more than any other because it allows a level of mathematical precision and complete personalization in training that had always been missing in my training prior to TT. Before that it was all guesswork.

What Lennart's set strongly suggests is that his nervous system is better adapted to a range closer to 1.0 than to 1.3.

This is obviously good since the ability to stay efficient at a higher rate is what distinguishes more successful swimmers. Less successful ones play a zero-sum game. They give up as much or more SL as they gain in SR. This has been well-documented for decades in analysis of races at world and national championships.I.E. Olympic medals are far more often won and lost and places decided in the last half of the race. Swimmers have relatively similar SL and SR earlier in the race. As the action heats up, the also-rans tend to resort to wheel-spinning, while winners can increase rate with little or no loss of SL.

I've put the results of sets into 3 categories
Red - Tempo increases. Speed decreases. Avoid or minimize training in this range.
Yellow - Tempo increases. Speed also increases but by a significantly lower %. In this range, work patiently at closing the gap. Some adjustments I might make include shorter repeats or longer rest.
Green - Tempo increases, as does speed, by a relatively close %. 9% to 7% is good. In this range I would feel comfortable trying more difficult sets - i.e. longer reps or shorter rest (but probably not both in the same set).

LennartLarsson 08-23-2010 10:05 PM


One further question: If I would have continued at a SR around 1.12 - 1.20 or so, I would have been in the yellow or even red region. I have been working around there for a while, not understanding why my speed does not improve. It was just because I was fed up and also what I read in your last thread and the SR you were playing with, that I tried to go down to 1,00. If you can, why should I not be able to do it? After all we swam nicely together in Mirror Lake. But should I have followed your color scale, I should still be harrowing in the 1.15 region. So how should we discover things like this?


Rupertdacat 08-24-2010 04:13 PM

Faster times with increasing stroke tempo

Originally Posted by LennartLarsson (Post 12609)
My plan was to swim 5 x (3x100 mtr) going down 0,02 for 3 consecutive swims, then start a new round by starting point 0,02 above the fastest in the last round. (snip)

Hi Lennart-

Great set! Do you rest a fixed time between repeats or do you wait until you feel fully ready to go again?


terry 08-25-2010 01:44 PM


Originally Posted by LennartLarsson (Post 12690)

One further question: If I would have continued at a SR around 1.12 - 1.20 or so, I would have been in the yellow or even red region. I have been working around there for a while, not understanding why my speed does not improve.
. . . So how should we discover things like this?


A good question. The best answer is that it points up the value of experimenting outside what you feel is your 'comfort range' . . . so long as comfort isn't a truly fundamental issue in your swimming.

One of the principles I've espoused for training generally, and, in particular, for performance-oriented training that is focused on the improvement of mathematical metrics as with the Tempo Trainer is a willlingness-to-fail. Doing that requires you to redefine "failure."

You start the set hoping for a positive result. When you don't get the result you hoped for, it's critical to view that as information -- not a verdict.

In fact, to take this unemotional/analytical way of thinking even further, view the unsatisfactory result as letting you know the current limitations of a neural circuit. Knowing its limitations will show you how to improve it.

terry 08-25-2010 01:59 PM


Originally Posted by Rupertdacat (Post 12702)
Do you rest a fixed time between repeats or do you wait until you feel fully ready to go again?


Another great question. For me, this question points up the interesting complexity of the training process.

In conventional training, work-to-rest ratios are fixed by formula. The "energy-system" method of training promulgated by USA Swimming to its coaches is based on designing sets that are said to produce particular metabolic effects. Aerobic metabolism requires a particular work:rest ratio. Other ratios are said to produce anaerobic threshold, VO2max, lactate tolerance, etc.

The problem with their formulas is they've never worked. I.E. There is no predictability or correlation between a particular level of, say, VO2max and a particular performance level.

On the other hand there is absolute certainty that a specific combination of Stroke Length and Stroke Rate will always yield a specific Pace.

So to me the math of training should be focused on programming your neural circuits for incremental improvement of your current ability to swim a particular SPL at a particular tempo for a particular duration.

And the amount of rest you take between repeats should be determined by how much recovery you require to swim a repeat that improves the circuit. I have had my best results when I do this by feel and experimentation. If I rest 20 seconds and the next repeat falls short, then I try 30 seconds, or 40 seconds, etc.

In other words, I'm suggesting that conventional swim training theory has it exactly backwards. They specify the rest interval but ignore how you construct the pace.

LennartLarsson 08-25-2010 02:54 PM


In fact I do very much like Terry suggests. In a set like this I started each repeat every 2 minutes, but later in the set I took longer breaks because I needed it. But I go very much after my guts feeling. The important matter is that you can make the swim the way you want.

madvet 08-25-2010 09:55 PM


Originally Posted by terry (Post 12628)

....As the action heats up, the also-rans tend to resort to wheel-spinning, while winners can increase rate with little or no loss of SL.

At the 2.4 mile race I did last weekend, I tried to incorporate a faster SR, closer to 1.1 than my previous SR of 1.5. I have been practicing the faster pace for only a month,so it was obvious that it was still not ingrained totally.

I will try some of these sets to see what my optimal SR might be.

What I found difficult was that as fatigue set in at about the 1.5 mile point my SR dropped, probably to 1.4, I got that spinning-wheels sensation. Not just a sensation, but real, because I would temporarily get things together and pass several people, then I would flounder and those same people would pass me. This repeated several times, but with 600 yards to go, I decided to pick up the pace and had my SR at 1.0 (approx). I felt much more solid, I passed those people, and then several more, and at the end of the race, I felt like I could have continued that faster pace for quite some time. But, could I have? And should I have picked up the pace earlier, and how much earlier? Should I have maintained the faster pace at the 1.5 mile mark even though I was feeling fatigued?

How do you reproduce that fatigue factor in practice in order to be able to know how to respond in that situation?

LennartLarsson 08-26-2010 10:14 PM


Congratulations to a good swim. As I can read it, you made a terrific race. But how do you know your SR when racing? Are you using your TT during the race?

I am sure that Terry has some scientific explanation to your thoughts about your race, but to me, with my relatively limited experience of OW racing, you did the right thing. If you open the race at such a high rate as 1,0 and not used to hit, you will have a problem after some 20 minutes of the race. If you then struggle to keep the pace you will have a tough time at the end. To me it is logical to begin the race at a lower pace than used later in the race. After all you are normally not that well warmed up when you start an OW race. And it is so mentally encouraging when you pass swimmers towards the end, isn't it? That is a real good feeling.


CoachKevin 08-31-2010 05:20 PM

I haven't had the opportunity to swim consistently for a pretty long time, about 3 yrs. really, since I spend a lot of time coaching. About 2 weeks ago I had 3 days to swim & thought I'd break out a TT to give it a try... Ooooooh! I'm way behind the curve among TI coaches, but...

Anyway I typically swim at a time pace of about 1:40/100 yds. at 9 SPL. That's my "cruise" speed & even out of shape I can pretty much do it all day. When I swim outdoors it's 1:50/100 meters (short course) & 10 SPL.
This is with open turns, a great streamline, 1 dolphin. Usually by the time I break out & start swimming my feet are well past the flags. I do this because it's a crucial pool swimming skill that I teach & therefor practice - maximize underwater time by maintaining momentum from push-off to breakout. It means I only "swim" about 18 yds./length. With flip turns it's about 19 yds.
At 6'3" & 290 lbs. (soaking wet) I've got plenty of core weight to shift which helps, too!
Those stats are also why I haven't debuted on YouTube yet...

I started at 1.70, but couldn't "swim" at that setting.
I moved it down to 1.65 & still had a noticeable hole in each stroke.
At 1.60 I could swim pretty smoothly, albeit feeling sluggish. so I backed it up .05 & that is where I started working the TT.

So, over 3 days I did these sets all in sc meters:
I did all of the sets on a time interval of 1:15 to get plenty of rest so I could be sure I wouldn't run out of gas. I like doing time interval sets on times ending in a 5 because it's easier to keep track of how many I've done. This was a leisurely pace, but it still kept me breathing (a little) heavy. My goal was to see how low (TT) I could go & still keep my SPL at 10/11 each 50.

Day 1
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.65
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.60
I averaged :47 & was able to keep my SPL at 10 down/11 back (there's a serious circular current in this pool, so on the side I swam on I was going "upstream" on the way back) with a few exceptions where I added one stroke on a few lengths.

Day 2
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.60
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.55
I averaged :46 & was still able to hold 10/11 with a couple of exceptions as above.

Day 3
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.55
10x50 @ 1:15 @ TT 1.50
Averaged just under :45 & held SPL at 10/11 with one 9(down) & three 12s(back) over the 20 50s.

I think one of the reasons I was able to keep at 10/11 pretty consistently was because I got better at breaking out on the beep. By day 3 I was able to figure out that it mostly took 2 beeps to take my first stroke - actually it was my first (2 beat) kick. I kicked on the beep since that's really how I start each stroke. For quite a few of the 50s I did over these 3 sets I had some really weird feeling breakouts & first strokes. Some I'd breakout too soon & have to either hang my arm too long or breakout too late & have to "squeeze" in 2 "short" strokes to get on tempo.

Not sure where this is heading, but it's all pretty interesting.

LBRoberts 09-20-2010 05:36 PM

Hey Kevin

Laurie from the UK here. Just logged back onto these boards after some time. I haven't got a TT but you might have just encouraged me to get one!

I have only been swimming once a month this past year due to family pressures - I have a little daughter and another baby on the way! But am going to try and go at least once a week from now on and will investigate the TT. I'll look to post how I get on here too

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