My Practice with Paolo
Thursday (27 Nov) I met good friend, opera conductor Paolo Carignani at Reebok Sports Club at Columbus Ave and W 67 St in Manhattan for a practice, then had the privilege of watching him conduct the Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's Nabucco. Paolo also took me for a backstage tour, including the orchestra pit before the show. What a treat.
Paolo always practices TI before a performance. He says it energizes him and even makes his gestures more fluent. He also says that because he feels so much better after a swim, the company can sense that and raises their performance level as well.
Can you imagine that one person's practice can affect the performance of 100 or more musicians and singers -- and thereby increase the enjoyment of 1000s of spectators?
Here's what we did in the pool:
After a brief warmup, we did this main set
4 x 50
3 x 100
2 x 150
1 x 200
We both set our Tempo Trainers @ 1.25, then strove to keep our stroke count consistent from the 50s to the 200. My first 50 was 14+15 strokes, but by the 4th 50, I was taking 13+13 strokes. Paolo found consistency at 16+17 strokes.
We both held our SPLs consistent through the 3x100 and 2x150. I usually took 12 strokes on the 1st 25 of each repeat and held 13 thereafter. Paolo started with 16, then held 17.
On the 200, Paolo was able to hold 16 for two lengths and 17 otherwise. I managed three lengths at 12, then 13 thereafter.
After we finished the set, Paolo mused "I wonder what our counts would be at 1.0 sec/stroke." So I suggested this set:
2 x 50 @ 1.20 - I held 12+13 SPL, Paolo 16+18
3 x 50 @ 1.10 - I held 13+14, Paolo 17+19
4 x 50 @ 1.00 - I held 14+15, Paolo 18+20
If you can add just one stroke per 25y as tempo increases by .1 sec, that's an indication your nervous system adapts easily to that change.
Then Paolo wondered what would happen @ .90, so we each swam a single 50. Paolo's count increased to 23, mine to 16.
That's an indicator too. Paolo's +3SPL change showed that a .90 tempo is beyond his current range of adaptability. So he should work toward it by smaller increments -- I.E. .99, .98, etc.
My +1SPL change showed that my nervous system is well-adapted to a .90 tempo. I didn't test it but I suspect I would have seen a much larger increase in stroke count from .90 to .80. If so, then I'll work to attain comfort in that range by .89, .88, etc.
After finishing these sets, Paolo and I did some Balance-tweaking exercises and some 25s and 50s exploring how slowly we could recover and still feel stable. Then we asked the lifeguard to film us doing a couple of 25s synchronizing our strokes. Watch for this on the TI Youtube Channel.
Terry, I am looking forward to trying that set, and playing around with the adaptation process. As someone who balances training with a swim club where most of the members have that old-school mentality and the TI way of mindful swimming, I am happy to see several of my team mates investing in tempo trainers. This morning, we did the following:
1. 3 x 300 swim/kick/pull continuous - during the swim I usually have 1 particular focus, today it was concentrating on rotating fully on both sides while taking long strokes, the kick was a lot of underwater dolphin concentrating on the joy of streamlined upper body and varying the undulation, the pull was alternating free and breast, concentrating on piercing through the water.
2. main set 3 x [3 x 200m @ 4min 1 easy, 1 med., 1 hard], keep SPL at 15 throughout
set 1, using a TT 1st 200 at SR 1.08 time 2:48, 2nd 200 at SR 1:04 time 2:38, 3rd 200 at SR 1:00 time 2:35
set 2, pulled set, no TT times were 2:48, 2:36, 2:29
set 3 also pulled only used TT on 2nd 200 at SR 1:05 times were 2:48, 2:33,2:27
I feel it is important to do my fastest swims without the TT as I shall conciously vary my SR throughout the swim - my focus on the hard swims is to take two fast strokes into the turn with a long deep streamlined pushoff, 1 dolphin kick and then 3 fast strokes off the break and develop into "easy speed"
3. As sommelier of a restaurant, I was on my feet for about 12 hours the day before so instead of finishing with a kicking set with the others, I did one of my favourite sets that I learned from you: 4 x 25, 3 x 50, 2 x 75, 1 x 100 trying to maintain an SPL of 12/13, focus on catch
4. Finished with a favourite aerobic set:
7 x 50 @ 1min, start with 8 breaths for the 2 lengths and reduce each successive 50 by 1 breath until only taking 2 breaths on last 50
1 min rest
1 x 50 only 1 breath try and swim under 35 sec.
Thanks as always for your inspiration.
Today at SUNY New Paltz, I repeated the set I'd done with Paolo on Thursday. I'd just finished lunch with friends and only 30 min of lap swim remained by the time I reached the pool, so I strove to repeat the metrics with consummate ease. After reaching 200 and finding it quite easy to hold 13SPL, I used the remaining 10 minutes to swim 3 additional 200s, slightly increasing tempo. I went 1.29, 1.29, 1.27 while holding 13SPL. This gave me an idea for a sort of "formula" for improving your 1500/1650 time. I'll start a new thread for discussion of that idea.
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