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terry 01-19-2016 02:22 AM

Using Tempo to Achieve a more precise Green Zone
Many of you are probably familiar with the TI Green Zone chart--a height-indexed chart of efficient stroke counts for 25y, 25m, and 50m courses. If you haven't downloaded it yet, it's available on the Free Stuff page at the TI Store.

While in St John USVI for the TI Open Water Experience, Coach Chris Douat (1st TI coach in France) and I were discussing those charts and both of us agreed that they could be more precisely individualized. We came up with a way of doing that, using Tempo Trainer. The exercise is to work through a range of tempos of about .2 seconds (.95 to 1.15, 1.0 to 1.2, 1.05 to 1.25, 1.1 to 1.3, etc.) and find out what happens to your stroke count.

I decided to perform this experiment as soon as possible. Following the OW camp I flew to South Florida to co-direct a 1.0 Coach Certification Course with Coach Suzanne Atkinson. While there I swam sets of 50m repeats in the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex 50m pool on two consecutive days.

Both days I started at Tempo 1.3 and swam 32 x 50, finishing at 1.0 Tempo (I repeated 1.0 twice). I counted strokes on all 50s. I considered the first 10 as a tuneup and treated the 50s between 1.2 and 1.0 as where I was likely to achieve my personal Green Zone.

On Monday my SPL was 38 at 1.2 and 42 at 1.0.
On Tuesday I did a little better, swimming 38 SPL at 1.2 and 41 SPL at 1.0.
According to the chart my Green Zone should be 36 to 44, but I think this narrower range is probably more accurate. I could probably continue to .95 Tempo and be between 42 and 43. So the right range for me to determine Green Zone is probably .95 to 1.15. I'll try that soon.

Today, back in New Paltz I did a similar set in a 25y pool. Rather than 50s, I swim a series of 27 x 100 repeats. I started at 1.3, treated the first 7 x 100 as Tuneup and began tracking my stroke count closely when I got to 1.2.

At 1.2 my SPL was 14 (56 strokes for 100y). I reached 60 strokes (15 SPL at 1.13) and didn't reach 64 strokes for 100y (16SPL) until 1.02. I was at 61 strokes for 1.01 and 1.0.

According to chart my Green Zone is 14 to 18 SPL, but I've gone with 13 to 17 in training.

I'll try this again soon, working my range from 1.15 to .95.

I'd love to see other curious swimmers try this and post your results on this thread.

Pls include your age, gender, and height to help us better categorize/analyze the data we collect.

I'm 64 y.o. (65 in two months), male and 6'0" tall.

terry 01-20-2016 02:25 AM

Short Course Meters Green Zone Set with Tempo
At my height of 72 inches, my Green Zone for a 25m pool runs from a smidge below 16 SPL (let's call it 15.75) to a smidge below 20 SPL - say 19.75 strokes.

Tonight, at the Eisenhower Park Aquatic Center on Long Island I had a 25m lane to myself for over an hour. I took advantage to continue my experiment with finding out what happens to my stroke count as I increase tempo in .01 sec. increments from 1.2 to 1.0 sec/stroke.

I started at 1.3 and used the first 5 x 100 (at 1.3, 1.28, 1.26, 1.24, 1.22) as a tuneup. My stroke count remained consistent at 16SPL or 64 strokes/100m.

I was able to hold that count to 1.18. I held at or under 68 strokes/17SPL to 1.07, and 72 strokes/18 SPL to 1.02. My last 2 x 100 were at 74 strokes (18.5 SPL).

So, using Tempo to learn a more precise sense of my personal Green Zone my range was 16 to 18.5 between 1.2 and 1.0.

As with the experiments I conducted in a 50M and 25y pool this set suggests that my best Tempo range for setting my Green Zone is 1.15 to 0.95 sec/stroke.

I have surgery Jan 25. I'll swim as regularly as possible until then. After surgery I'll 'go quiet' for about a month as swimming will be verboten.

While I'm recovering I invite others to try this test and post their data on this thread.

andyinnorway 01-20-2016 05:21 AM

I'll add mine later in the week.

WFEGb 01-20-2016 02:14 PM

Hello Terry,

any fixed pauses in your test?

Best regards,

terry 01-20-2016 06:25 PM

Do you mean rest intervals?
I did 26 x 100 in total.
The first 21 I swam on a 2:00 interval -- getting a bit less than 30 seconds rest between 100s. I also gave myself a minute extra rest after 10 x 100.
The last 5 x 100, because it was more physically demanding, I swam on a 2:10 interval -- about 90 seconds work and 40 seconds rest.

andyinnorway 01-20-2016 07:43 PM

I tested this during tune up today


try to hold 16SPL

start tt 1.25
end tt 1.05

most of the outbound lengths were early to middle 15SPL
most of the inbound lengths were 16SPL on the nose, the last couple were just inside the beep, so I decided it was time to stop.

2 beep push off, 2 beep turn. Rest interval long enough to build a gap in the lane 30-60s

capitanz 01-21-2016 06:34 AM

Dear Terry

I did the experiment: I swam 2x25m each SR and logged the results of the second 25m.

According to the SPL chart I should be between 15 and 16 SPL. I feel really confortable in 15 SPL.

Emilio Carrasco Moreno (Spain)

JCJ72 01-21-2016 09:53 AM

TT and SPL
Hi Terry and fellow TI coaches....
Here are my numbers for what I was playing around with..
I am 182cm 43yrs old and in a 50m green band is from approx 35spl - 45spl
I started of with the tune up :6x 100 ( I chose the higher spl to log on each 50m)
Tune up: TT 1.30,1.28,1.26,1.24 all 34 SPL , 1.22, 1.20 = 35 spl
Main sets: 16 x 100 all with 2BK also choosing the higher spl to log.
TT 1.16,1.14,1.12, = 35 spl 1.10,1.08,1.05 = 37 spl, 1.02,1.0 = 37spl
as I started to see the count go up with the TT on 1.02 and 1.0 I then had to really concentrate on a quicker arm recovery still keeping the 2BK, it helped::
TT 0.98,0.96,0.94 = 36 0.92 = 37spl. Now getting tired so focused on being long and had to move my mailbox entry further forward to get the also worked : 0.92,0.94,0.96,1.0 = 36.
I played around with some 6BK at TT .94,.92 but it added on a stroke each time.The rest time between each 100 was on average 45sec, with the faster TT it was maybe a minute to catch breath.)
Hope the data can help with any future SPL graphs that will be re-adjusted.
Cheers , Jeremy. (

terry 01-21-2016 08:14 PM

Thanks for adding your data. Looks as if your real Green Zone is several strokes less than the chart suggests.

Pretty impressive that you were able to figure out a way to swim 36 SPL at faster tempos than you had already swum 37 SPL.

And I think it's pretty telling that you took fewer strokes (i.e. swam faster) at 2BK than 6BK. This contradicts the conventional wisdom outside TI that 2BK is slower.

Can you summarize your most valuable insights from this exercise?

JCJ72 01-22-2016 06:23 AM

Hi Terry,
Yes a quick summary from what I felt. My spl has always been below the the SPL graph, the 33spl for a 50m pool was always very comfortable so to get out of the comfort zone the TT helped a-lot to be able to move me into a faster comfort zone. Once I start getting under 1.0 on the TT then am not sure how long I could go with the 2BK with my fitness level at the moment ( thats something I will have to keep checking in on ). At around the TT 1.0 mark I then started to time the beep with the kicks as you pointed out in London, then the other thing was being conscious of a quicker recovery which I think in turn prompted a bit more snap in my catch which I was then able to cut a stroke out when I felt I was tiring.I would probably look at my numbers and see a SPL graph for me as 33 - 39 or 40. My next sessions will be to increase the distance say 3 x 500m with the TT down around .98 and keep the 2BK on one 500, and try a mix of the 2BK and 6BK on the other 500. and at the same time compare my perceived effort for the 3.
All the best with the OP coming up.......
Enjoy the rest when you can get it.......
All the best Jeremy.

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