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terry 12-03-2012 10:30 PM

Terry's December Practices
Mon Dec 3 2400y in 50 min @ SUNY-NP
Trading Strokes for Seconds

My purpose for this practice was to rehearse the three events I'll swim in a Masters meet at Ithaca College on Dec 8 - 100 breast, 200 back, 1000 free - and to work two metrics -- SPL and Time. The skill I worked on in the three sets following Tuneup were to 'trade' strokes for seconds. If I choose to take an additional stroke per lap (always a choice, never an accident) I should swim faster.

Note: I'm still in my Month of Backstroke Improvement, but decided to consolidate my practices to a thread here because it will be easier for me - and others - to keep track of them if they're all in one place. I'll post backstroke milestones on the other thread.

Tuneup 800 alternating backstroke and freestyle
I began with 4 x 25BK25FR, then progressed to alternating 50BK50FR, then 75BK75FR and finally 100BK100FR. The farther I went -- and the longer I sustained each stroke, the easier it become to maintain those high efficiency stroke counts, a testament to the Tuning Effect. When your training is neurally-oriented, the brain should optimize the circuit for a particular task (like a 13SPL lap of FR) the more times you repeat it.

Pacing Set 2 rounds of 3 x 50 BR. Descend each round, 25 EZ FR between repeats.
1st round @ 8SPL. I descended 51-50-49 sec
2nd round @ 9SPL I descended 50-49-48. sec
This was my first timed set of BR repeats in many months -- perhaps the entire year. I did it because I'm swimming 100 BR in a Masters meet next Sat.

Main Set 10 x 100 FR, descend by adding 1 stroke per 100.
I started at 13SPL, adding a single stroke to each successive 100 as follows:
My times improved from 1:28 to 1:17 simply by adding a single stroke per 100. I felt highly integrated all the way though exertion definitely increased.

Pacing Set #2
2 rounds of 3 x 50 BK. Descend each round. Interval was 1:10 per 50. No recovery swims.
1st round @ 15+16SPL Times: 50-49-48 sec.
2nd round @ 16+17SPL Times 49-48-47 sec.

wheskes 12-03-2012 11:23 PM

13SPL strokes per length?
Hi Terry,
First of all thanks so much for all your incredible work. I discovered Total Immersion last year, rummaging through youtube trying to find videos on how to improve my freestyle. I've been practising my version of TI for nearly a year now.

I can swim 25m in 15/16 strokes (I'm 182cm tall and weigh 80kilos), it's better than what it used to be. But if I'm pushing myself the stroke rate goes up to 17/18 and I can't really swim under 1:20 (100m), it's more like 1:25 per 100 meters with 30" rests in between (I do 10 sets for instance).

How can I get to do 13SPL like you do without ending up with dead spots in my swimming (overgliding?).

Also, how many strokes per minute do you do? (I'm now using a Tempo Trainer after reading one your blogs).

I swim 3 times a week, one hour each time, and normally do 3000metres each session. I've got a good level of fitness, cycling 80miles a week and swimming around 9K a week. I've swam 3000 metres in 48' in a 25m pool several months back, to give you an indication of my swimming level.

You talk about Perpetual Motion as one of the aspects of TI. However the video that comes up in the homepage shows a lady swimming that clearly stops her arms from moving with each stroke, is that correct?

It'd be great to read some answers to these inter-connected (albeit a bit random-looking) questions.

Very best and much admiration,

terry 12-04-2012 10:56 AM

First of all the video you refer to on home page shows TI Coach Luisa Fonseca of Madrid. Watch the surface video and note that the exiting hand never stops. That means she maintains rhythm or stroke continuity. The leading hand exhibits what we call Patience or a moment-of-stillness.
On underwater video that seems no longer available on youtube, Jason Lezak showed that same moment of stillness in anchoring the US 4x100 relay in Beijing.
Alain Barnard, who anchored the French relay, lacked it.
Consequently Barnard took 46 strokes on the final 50m while Lezak took 34.
Lezak made up so much ground -- while taking so many fewer strokes -- because when he stroked he moved his body forward. Barnard moved the water back.

The moment-of-stillness is the reason.

My 13SPL was in a 25y pool. In a 25m pool that would be 14-15SPL. I wasn't wearing a TT but would estimate -- it being my Tuneup set -- my tempo ranged between 1.30 and 1.35.
We are both 182 cm though -- having unfortunately added my usual layer of winter fat -- I'm 93kg.
Yesterday my metrics on main set of Free were SPL + Time. Today they will probably be Tempo+SPL. I'll test if I can maintain 14 SPL from 1.16 to somewhere below 1.10.

Watching youtube video gives many useful clues about TI Technique. Following the skill-building process in a video like our Self-Coached Workshop is a more reliable and faster path to improvement.

In any case I'm delighted you're on the path and posting here.

andyinnorway 12-04-2012 11:13 AM


Originally Posted by wheskes (Post 32760)
I can swim 25m in 15/16 strokes (I'm 182cm tall and weigh 80kilos), it's better than what it used to be. But if I'm pushing myself the stroke rate goes up to 17/18 and I can't really swim under 1:20 (100m), it's more like 1:25 per 100 meters with 30" rests in between (I do 10 sets for instance).

Very best and much admiration,


Based on your numbers above if you are able to hold 17-18SPL with tempo at 1.0 for 21s lengths over 1500m and above then are doing a really great job. Your SPL range is good for that speed.

You will get some value from slowing the tempo trainer down as a drill exercise as this will enable you

1. evaluate more precisely your balance and streamline skill level
2. Create an even smoother stroke cycle as you strive to swim with a lower TT without introducing pauses on recovery etc.

The times you post also suggest that you will benefit from solving the problem of swimming a 1.15 100m as this would be a more typical sprint time for someone swimming a 48 minute 3000m.

Congratulations on all your achievements so far. Job well done.

wheskes 12-04-2012 04:24 PM

Thank you so much for your reply Terry. The yard-metric discrepancy explains a lot as does the 'moment of Patience'.

I'm actually a huge fan of Sun Yang and I know how efficient and effective his long strokes are, him and you guys are my swimming role models.

wheskes 12-04-2012 04:34 PM

Hi Andy,

Thank you for your comment. I don't hold that tempo over 1500metres, wish I could! Once a week I do sets of 100m to build up speed. I typically do up to 10 sets of 4X25metres with 30" rests in between each set, and normally keep my times at 1:25.

I've been swimming with a TT for a few weeks and I set it at 1.08 and aim to take one decimal every 2/3 weeks until I can swim comfortably at 1" for at least 1000 metres.

My ultimate goal is to do a 5000metre swim in 1hours 20' next year.

I love swimming anyway so it's all fun for me and I do love Total Immersion, I've been swimming for over 20 years and it's now that I enjoy it the most.

terry 12-04-2012 08:26 PM


Originally Posted by wheskes (Post 32778)
I've been swimming with a TT for a few weeks and I set it at 1.08 and aim to take one decimal every 2/3 weeks until I can swim comfortably at 1" for at least 1000 metres.

That's a very sound improvement plan. By decimal do you mean to improve in 2-3 weeks to 1.07 or to .98? The former is a very achievable goal. The latter might be achievable in the short term but would be hard to continue over the longer term.


My ultimate goal is to do a 5000metre swim in 1hours 20' next year.
Fantastic goal. In OW or in the pool?
If I may ask, where do you live?

terry 12-04-2012 08:55 PM

How I Improved Today over Yesterday
Tues Dec 4 -- 2600y in 50 min at SUNY-NP

As I've written often, my goal in every practice is to improve my swimming -- I.E. to be a better swimmer at the end of the practice than I was at the beginning. Sometimes I gauge that improvement subjectively. As often as possible I try to make it empirical/objective. Today's practice reflected marked progress over my last two practices -- yesterday and last Wed.

Tuneup Swim 800 FR/BK Pyramid
25FR25BK+50FR50BK+75FR75BK+100FR100BK+ 75 same + 50 same + 25 Same
My goal was to (1) hold 13SPL for FR and 15SPL for BK the entire set, and (2) to feel faster and stronger as distances got shorter after the 100s. I felt exactly as I hope to by the end.

Pace Set BR
3 rounds of 4 x 25 BR. One round each @ 7-8-9 SPL. I descended each round slightly and had faster average times each time I increased SPL.

Pace Set BK
2 rounds of 3 x 50 BK. First round @ 14+15 SPL. 2nd round @ 15+16 SPL. Descend each round without adding strokes.
I did almost exactly the same set yesterday but at higher stroke counts and slower paces.
Yesterday 15+16SPL @ 50-49-48 sec, then 16+17 SPL @ 50-49-48 sec
Today 14+15SPL @ 48-47-46 sec then 15+16SPL @ 48-46-44 sec
I executed the same critical skill in both - swim faster without adding strokes, but much improved today. Exciting benchmark in my Month of Backstroke Improvement.

Pace Set for 1000 FR
Swim 10 x 100 FR on interval of 1:50. Progress tempo from 1.19 to 1.10 while holding 14SPL as long as possible.
I held 14 SPL through 1.13. I added just two strokes (to 14+14+15+15) at 1.12, 1.11 and 1.10. My times improved from 1:24 @ 1.19 to 1:19 @ 1.10.
My combination of SPL and Time or SPL and Tempo were slightly better than similar sets I did yesterday and last Wed. Last Wed I held 14SPL to 1.15 tempo. Today I held it to 1.13. Next week, maybe to 1.11?

wheskes 12-04-2012 10:25 PM

Not a decimal but a "centesimal" (?), from 1.08 during 2/3 weeks to 1.07 and so on. I figure my body will get used to that and by next year I would have improved in a progressive and sensible way.

I live in London. Every year there's something called Swimathon, a charity swim, where you can choose to swim up to 5K and in the process raise money for charity. I did it once 13 years ago, in 1h29'. At the time I wasn't training in a structured way, but I was 13 years younger! I think I can do it though, If I stick to 16' per 1K I'll be bang on, and right now I know I can do that over 3K.

It'll be in a 25m pool… I'd like to do it in a 50m pool but then I'll have to train harder to achieve that time… we'll see next year.

Thank you again Terry.

terry 12-05-2012 12:32 PM

Neural Training Proves its Efficacy
I should note that this is the fastest I've ever shook off rust and regained a fairly strong performance level -- relative to how I've swum the last few years -- after a period of 'inactivity.'
I'd been swimming in the Endless Pool for a month or so, but hadn't been in a regular pool in about five months when I resumed training at SUNY less than three weeks ago.
For the 30+ years that my focus was on training to build aerobic capacity, it always took forever to reach a decent level in training or racing. Over the past 15+ years I've steadily shifted my focus to neural training, and let aerobic training 'happen.' Now I'm focused 100% on creating neural adaptation and simply never give conditioning a thought.
The more I've done so, the less time it takes me to gain what I think of as a strong--though not peak--level of performance. The explanation is that aerobic capacity (1) diminishes rapidly when you're inactive and (2) takes a long time to rebuild. If you rely on that for endurance or pace, you'll have to 'endure' a relatively long period of swimming slowly.
But the brain and nervous system (1) don't 'forget' what they've learned previously and (2) adapt to a new higher level very quickly.
My experience in these recent weeks has been characterized by very steady progress -- even from one day to the next -- and consequently rapid return to performance levels I'd attained during continuous longer-term training.

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