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Thatchman 03-24-2011 08:12 AM

What speed would be regarded as average or slow
 
Hi Guys

My swimming has come a long way in the last 9 months to the point that I have endurance for long swims and am at a comfortable point ahead of my first Ironman on 10 April.

I feel balanced and streamlined in the water (will find out at my first weekend TI workshop this weekend).

It seems that most people are faster than me though.

Yesterday I did a swim session that included 8 x 200m sets. I swam these at an easy pace. I do not know what my tempo was and averaged about 24 SPL.

My time started out at 4min35 for the first 200 and the slowest was 4min50.

So my question is whether this is regarded as average, slow or very slow?

I am hoping that this weekend will reveal areas of opportunity for me to improve efficiency and technique which should help to make me faster.

I do not have a desire to be fast but I do not want to be slow.

Tks

terry 03-24-2011 02:07 PM

Thatchman
The question of what speed is 'average or slow' is unanswerable, because time by itself is an incomplete and imprecise measure of how you're swimming.

If you are 6 feet tall, 25 years old and male, those times would put you in one percentile of all swimmers with similar characteristics

If you are 5 feet tall, 55 years old, and female, the same times would put you in a radically different percentile.

And those are only a few characteristics that will influence how any particular level of efficiency translates to speed.

However I can say this much with great certainty: Simply being able to complete 8 x 200m -- or a 'broken mile' -- of swimming . . . at any speed . . . puts you in the 1st or 2nd percentile of all humans in swimming ability.

Having accomplished that, I'd suggest the following Principles of Improvement:

1) Speed is a math problem.' Any speed you swim will be a mathematically precise product of a particular Stroke Length multiplied by a particular Stroke Rate.

2) Speed is also an energy problem. In water, drag squares as speed increases. 5 percent more speed = 25% more drag. Therefore . . .

3) . . . Speed is ultimately a force gap problem. To move forward, the propulsive force you generate must exceed the water's resistive force. To swim faster, you must increase the difference between the two forces. Increasing propulsive force incurs high costs in power and energy. Reducing drag produces high savings - which increase by the same percentage as drag does. A low drag position cuts energy cost by 25% when speed increases by 5%.

That's why:
a) The workshop you're about to take will focus heavily on Balance and Streamlining skills.
b) In your own practice, prioritize SPL (stroke count per length of the pool) over other measures. Aim to incrementally and patiently improve it over short distances (100m or less), then to maintain it as you incrementally and steadily add distance (150-200-250 etc), then
c) bring in Stroke Rate as an additional measure, using a Tempo Trainer.

Every practice, indeed every set, focus on where you are right this moment, and how you can incrementally and patiently improve any of those three metrics - SPL, Tempo and Distance/Duration. (The biggest payoffs will come from (i) Balance, then (ii) Streamline, then (iii) Propulsion.)

Over 1, 2, 3, 6 months the seconds shown on the pace clock should 'melt' away.

Thatchman 03-24-2011 02:43 PM

appreciated
 
Hi Terry

Many thanks for taking the time to give me a response.

It was the first time that I timed myself and only the second time that I have counted my SPL. I did this so that I could have a basis to measure my improvement post the workshop.

I will also try to get a tempo trainer as suggested.

I will take your advice together with my learnings from the weekend and look forward to making some gains in the near future.

LennartLarsson 03-24-2011 04:42 PM

Hi Terry,
Sometimes I don't get your theories. If you and I race in Masters Class 60-64, which we will later this year, the one of us hitting the finish first is the one swimming at the fastest speed, isn't it? I agree that their is a difference between individuals, making a 100 meter free in 1.20 more impressive for the 55 year old shorty versus the 25 year old tall guy. Bit still they are both swimming at 1,20. When we compare speed, we compare how fast we swim a certain distance, don't we?

See you!

/Lennart

swimpaired 03-24-2011 05:06 PM

When I get curious for comparison I pull up some of the sprint triathlon results which are 400m and compare finish times by age group and finish position. Not definitive results of course but something interesting to look at.

saadbox13 03-24-2011 06:36 PM

speed and energy problems
 
There is an optimal pace that differs from individual to individual, I believe that it cannot be defined by any math formula and it is up to us to find our personal 'optimal' pace through practice.
I had to take 2 weeks off due to business travels and when I came back to my daily TI swim practice I found myself struggling to get back to my normal pace. During that process I realized that speed had a direct negative impact on my stroke precision, there is an optimal pace in which I feel like I am gliding effortlessly in the water, it is not too slow nor too fast it just feels RIGHT! if I increase my speed even by a bit I start making mistakes, and if I slow down I need to apply more effort to stay balanced. This begs the question: should we squew our stroke and catch/recovery based on our speed in a conscious manner or should it just adjust naturally through sensory information and instinct?

roates 03-24-2011 07:05 PM

[quote=LennartLarsson;18487]Hi Terry,
Sometimes I don't get your theories. If you and I race in Masters Class 60-64, which we will later this year, the one of us hitting the finish first is the one swimming at the fastest speed, isn't it? I agree that their is a difference between individuals, making a 100 meter free in 1.20 more impressive for the 55 year old shorty versus the 25 year old tall guy. Bit still they are both swimming at 1,20. When we compare speed, we compare how fast we swim a certain distance, don't we?

I'm with you Lennart, I don't get the theories either.
Feel there's a bit of sitting on the fence here.
We all know we are different shapes and sizes but a bit of a suggestion/speculation, based on sex,age,experience,shape,weight might be a useful approximate benchmark.
I know I'm never at my age coming to swimming late in life be as fast as you Terry with a whole life spent in the water. But I like something to aim for.

I'm with Thatchman too
'I do not have a desire to be fast but I do not want to be slow'
I just want to be efficient and not always last.

Roger

dzhou01 03-24-2011 08:02 PM

[quote=roates;18498][quote=LennartLarsson;18487]

Lennart and Roates,

I think what Terry tried to say is if you get balanced and streamlined, you will not be slow. If you find yourself still slow in your age/sex group, you have to work on balance and streamline more, they are not good enough yet. So focus on SPL, instead of speed, since SPL reflects how balanced and streamlined you are. And then increase stroke rate if you want to go faster. You may find people swim faster than you, but ask yourself:
1. Are they younger/taller?
2. Are they swimming as effortless as you, in other words, if swimming for longer distance, will they still be faster than you?

Terry also said that to increase speed by 5%, the drag increases by 25%. So you need to increase your power by at least 25% to overcome the drag. Do you have that 25% more power? If you do, take it out, and you will be 5% faster. If not, you'd better work on balance/streamline to reduce drag. There are people out there who are 50% or 100% more powerful than you, so if they have the same drag as you, it is no surprise they are faster. If you can reduce drag, you will be as fast as them with less power.

robedon 03-24-2011 09:00 PM

what is your average time to swim 1000 yards
 
Hello,

I've finally advanced to swimming 1000 yards without stopping. It prompted me to wonder if my time on this distance is good or not. I did it in 18:37. How long does it take you to swim 1000 yards?

thanks

borate 03-25-2011 12:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by robedon (Post 18502)
I've finally advanced to swimming 1000 yards without stopping. It prompted me to wonder if my time on this distance is good or not. I did it in 18:37.
thanks

Keep in mind that TI stresses relaxation and sustainability. Speeds and focus of folks here vary widely. Some are beginners, others accomplished triathletes.
For comparative purposes...

Masters Level 1: Masters level 1 is for swimmers who swim one mile in over 35 minutes.
Masters Level 2: Masters Level 2 swimmers can swim one mile under 35 minutes and over 25 minutes.
Masters Level 3: Masters Level 3 swimmers can swim one mile in 24 minutes or less.
Michael Phelps swims a mile in under 17 minutes. ^_^

If I tallied it correctly your time per lap is 53/54 seconds. That would be about a 32-minute mile.

U.S. Masters Swimming welcomes swimmers of all abilities who want to improve their overall fitness, develop better technique, or train for any type of swimming competition - or who just enjoy the social interaction and workout.

LennartLarsson 03-25-2011 12:09 AM

Dzhou01, you said "Terry also said that to increase speed by 5%, the drag increases by 25%. So you need to increase your power by at least 25% to overcome the drag. Do you have that 25% more power? If you do, take it out, and you will be 5% faster. If not, you'd better work on balance/streamline to reduce drag. There are people out there who are 50% or 100% more powerful than you, so if they have the same drag as you, it is no surprise they are faster. If you can reduce drag, you will be as fast as them with less power."

Sure, I get you. But swimming fast must be some kind of combination of splendid technique and physical and mental ability. If you and I reach the same time in a race, one of us will surely have a better technique than the other, but that can be compensated by mental and physical ability to stand a race. In the end it is the time shown own the clock that gives the answer. That does not mean that we should do the swim training with a focus on maximal fatigue. Still, a good technique will reduce drag and in the end increase the speed. The medals are given to the top three. There are no extra points for style!

Robedon: We don't swim yards in Europe, but a 1000 meter swim can be anything from 15 to 17 minutes, depending on my focus, concentration and willingness to go hard. I can make 17 minutes with ease, i need to go really hard to reach 15 minutes. If I make my technique better I might go 16 minutes with ease and 14.30 by going hard as i can. You see, it goes hand in hand, but the best potential is in the technique.

/Lennart

terry 03-25-2011 02:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LennartLarsson (Post 18487)
I agree that their is a difference between individuals, making a 100 meter free in 1.20 more impressive for the 55 year old shorty versus the 25 year old tall guy. Bit still they are both swimming at 1,20.

Lennart (and Roates too)
I think my post was entirely empirical, not theoretical. Please tell me which part you think was theoretical?

And then answer this question: Is 1:20 for 100m Fast, Average or Slow?

TIJoe 03-25-2011 07:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 18509)
Lennart (and Roates too)
I think my post was entirely empirical, not theoretical. Please tell me which part you think was theoretical?

And then answer this question: Is 1:20 for 100m Fast, Average or Slow?

Terry is obviously correct in stating that there is no absolute standard for being fast unless you are a world class swimmer in which case the benchmark you compare to would be the world record.

However, it is also human competitive nature trying to figure out how they stand in comparison with others (especially peers). I know I often wonder how I compare speedwise (in addition to style) with other swimmers in the pool.

Regardless, it is fun to have a basic benchmark so us amatures can have a target to work towards.

I assume we are not talking about the high standard of competitive/elite swimmers. As far as weekend warriors are concerned, 1:20 for 100m is definitely considered fast. In fact, according to swimsmooth website, they classify people who can swim 100m in the rage of 1:30 to 2:10 as intermediate and those who can swim 400m in under 6 minutes (not only less than 1:30 per 100m but you need to keep the form for 400m) as advanced.

Where I swim (public pools in Japan which swimmers on average are probably slower than US or Europe public pool counterparts), most days I don't see a single person that falls into the advanced category. I myself fall right into the middle of the swimsmooth intermediate category after teaching myself TI since last summer. Incidently, I just booked my first TI lesson with TI Japan this coming weekend.

So there you have it. Let the good natured discussion continue ...

CoachKris 03-25-2011 03:20 PM

It all depends on what you are aiming for

If you are aiming for Olympics then this year 55s for 100m is to slow to qualify not mentioning being consider fast ;)

Working as a lifeguard gives me a great opportunity to observe swimmers, and what i can see most often is that distance swimmers are usually being overtaken by other swimmers but other swimmers are dying after 4 lengths of the pool when distance swimmers are simply going further passing them on the wall, witch ones are faster?

there is one more thing i've observed regarding times, vast majority of people cant turn properly, plenty of time and energy can be saved on turning if you do it right - obviously it doesnt applies to open water ;)

jeetkevdo 03-25-2011 05:28 PM

My point of view is that I swim for fitness, so I want to eliminate the rest gained during the push-off. I hope to do a sprint tri, but alas no walls. Each to their own.

quad09 03-25-2011 06:01 PM

To anwswer your question about time
 
Thatchman:

Regardless of all that has been submitted with good intention i'm sure; I find your 4:35 to 4:50 times for 200 meters to be a bit slow. Based on daily observations of good swimmers, if you can get to approx. 20 seconds per 25 meters I think your speed and efficiency are quite good. I write this with all humility because I'm not there either. SPL is important but SR is curcial for quicker times.

Best of luck!!

Richardsk 03-25-2011 06:05 PM

One way you can get an estimate of how you compare with other swimmers is to check the FINA points table for base times.

These are based on the top ten times each year in each discipline, I think, and are updated each year

You can divide your own time by the FINA base time for 1000 points and the lower the number you get the better your time is.

Of course this only works for meters because as far as I know the USA is the only country still swimming yards. We still have some yards pools here but I don't think they are allowed to hold competitions in them. I could be wrong of course.

http://www.fina.org/pool/index.php?o...236&Itemid=297

dobarton 03-25-2011 06:34 PM

Lol!!
 
TIJoe states
"In fact, according to swimsmooth website, they classify people who can swim 100m in the rage of 1:30 to 2:10 as intermediate and those who can swim 400m in under 6 minutes (not only less than 1:30 per 100m but you need to keep the form for 400m) as advanced."

I had to laugh at this one... I don't have too much trouble getting under 1:30 for 100 m (open turn, 25 m pool), but the idea of 6 minutes for 400m is a fantasy... Guess that puts me in the intermediate advanced... or would that be the advanced intermediate, lol!

TIJoe 03-26-2011 01:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dobarton (Post 18533)
TIJoe states
"In fact, according to swimsmooth website, they classify people who can swim 100m in the rage of 1:30 to 2:10 as intermediate and those who can swim 400m in under 6 minutes (not only less than 1:30 per 100m but you need to keep the form for 400m) as advanced."

I had to laugh at this one... I don't have too much trouble getting under 1:30 for 100 m (open turn, 25 m pool), but the idea of 6 minutes for 400m is a fantasy... Guess that puts me in the intermediate advanced... or would that be the advanced intermediate, lol!

There you go, so long as you are laughing not crying, we are all happy for you! "intermediate advanced or advanced intermediate", that's the whole point isn't it? If you want to be close to 100% scientific, then you can only compare with the same distance with the exact time. But then you have different speed pools, you may even need to distinguish world records with high-tech body suit or no body suit.

I don't think this is a thread that is worth any serious debate as there is obviously no exact answer to it. But the discussion is still fun as it is clear that a lot people are interested in how fast others can swim regardless of age, gender and body type ...

Swim and be happy

terry 03-26-2011 06:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TIJoe (Post 18512)
As far as weekend warriors are concerned, 1:20 for 100m is definitely considered fast. In fact, according to swimsmooth website, they classify people who can swim 100m in the rage of 1:30 to 2:10 as intermediate and those who can swim 400m in under 6 minutes (not only less than 1:30 per 100m but you need to keep the form for 400m) as advanced.

TIJoe has it right. If you're a world-class swimmer, then the WR is an absolute measure of what is 'fast.' The same is true if you're a Masters swimmer. The WR for your age group can safely be considered 'fast.'

But for the overwhelming majority of swimmers in the world - and a considerable majority on this Forum as well - I think of "fast" and "slow" as labels which lack precision and do far more to limit than enable.

That's why - for those of us who do use time as a measure - I advocate the following:
1. Simply measure your swimming with complete objectivity. How many strokes, at what rate, for what distance. Or substitute time for rate -- from which you can infer rate.
2. View those measures - whatever they are at the moment - as information, pure and simple. Putting a label on it tells you nothing about yourself; all it does is compare you with someone else. Focus solely on what you can effect or control.
3. Develop strategies for improving one or another of your own metrics, while striving to keep the others constant.
4. Next practice, decide which metric or quality you'll work on and go to it.

Since few of us are likely to break the WR, there will always be someone faster, so focus on the pleasure of small continuous improvement.

KatieK 03-27-2011 05:46 PM

I don't see why there has to be so much mystique about swimming speed.

I'm not a runner, but I know what a fast, slow, and average running speed is: under 4min/mi is elite, 4-6 is crazy fast, 7-8 is fast, 9-10 is good, 10-12 is medium-slow, >12 is slow. I might be a little off on that, but I'm sure it's pretty close. And I'm not even interested in running.

I think it's helpful to know the ranges for swimming as well. It's not about beating yourself up for being slow or average. It's about eliminating vagueness in our thinking. It's about being knowledgeable about the sport we love--basic information that pretty much any cyclist, equestrian, runner, speed skater, etc. would understand about his/her sport.

I like to think of these categories:
-Elite Swimmer: Under 1:20 per 100m (<20-minute mile)
-Masters Swimmer: Under 2:10 per 100m (<32-minute mile)
-Faster Fitness Swimmer/Triathlete: Under 3:00 per 100m (<45-minute mile)
-Slower Fitness Swimmer: Over 3:00 per 100m (>45-minute mile)
Those numbers are arbitrary, but still useful.

My Masters team is made up mainly of triathletes. Compared to most of them, I'm fast. I'd be setting myself up for disappointment, though, if I thought being near the top of that pack made me a fast swimmer overall. Right now, I'm aiming for Average Masters Swimmer--I'm not there yet.

Knowing where you are on the map isn't the same as having directions to your destination. But if you don't know where you are, you're lost.

Katie
www.WaterGirl.co

CoachBillL 03-27-2011 06:32 PM

Speed smarts
 
I swam with a marvelous Australian woman in Florida last year; she is a bit older than me (I'm 63) and shorter, and she can swim any distance quite a bit faster, without apparent effort. I swam with a young man last week who was born missing a leg -- he can do 100 yards in 54 seconds, against my 1:34 or so. Terry's points seem to me unanswerable: know where you are now and work from there; know how to improve your ability to control SPL for greater distances and at higher stroke rates, and you can get faster. I know I'm never going to swim 100 yards under one minute, but I'm pretty sure I'll get better than I am now (though probably not as good as Pat!) -- and it's priceless to have a working method that isn't just swimming harder.

Danny 03-28-2011 02:23 AM

CoachBill, don't you ever wonder why, as you say, you won't get as good as your friend Pat? Is it that his/her technique is unattainable or that he/she has better physical condition than you have? In yoga they tell you that you should never envy other people's flexibility, but there is a version of the same that seems to apply to swimmers. Some people just seem to move through the water more effortlessly than others, and I'm not sure whether technique improvements can ever really entirely close that gap. If not, then why not?

Thatchman 03-28-2011 10:25 AM

On the road to improvement
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by quad09 (Post 18531)
Thatchman:

Regardless of all that has been submitted with good intention i'm sure; I find your 4:35 to 4:50 times for 200 meters to be a bit slow. Based on daily observations of good swimmers, if you can get to approx. 20 seconds per 25 meters I think your speed and efficiency are quite good. I write this with all humility because I'm not there either. SPL is important but SR is curcial for quicker times.

Best of luck!!

Hi

Thanks for all the response and debate.

Just to let you know where I am coming from. I am 45 and a social triathlete competing for fun but i also want to do the best I can.

In Jan, I did the SA 70.3 and finished in 6h07 which was in the top third of all finishes. However I was in the top 14% in the run, the top 45% on the bike and only top 82% in the swim. Clearly my swimming is out in terms of my athletic ability which points to technique issues.

As stated previously my SPL of 24-26 is not good.

Anyway I had a really enjoyable TI workshop this weekend with Georgie. SPL in my "before video was 24 and the next day after the workshop it was 19.

She has given me some valuable take-outs to work on and I am confident that I can drop a few more stokes off with some time in the pool.

terry 03-28-2011 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KatieK (Post 18585)
I'm not a runner, but I know what a fast, slow, and average running speed is: under 4min/mi is elite

Beg pardon. An avid fan of track and field would probably sniff at the notion that under 4 minutes for the mile would qualify a runner as 'elite.' It would have been true 50+ years ago, but with the WR now at 3:43 and hundreds of runners able to run sub-4, it's hardly elite. . .
Unless you're a woman, in which case anyone who has run under 4:20 would probably deserve to be called 'elite.' . . .
And what about equally-serious runners who may be 40+? Could anyone argue that a sub-4 Masters runner would deserve the label 'elite?'

Quote:

Originally Posted by KatieK (Post 18585)
I think it's helpful to know the ranges for swimming as well.
-Elite Swimmer: Under 1:20 per 100m (<20-minute mile)

Over a quarter century ago, long before the era when high-tech suits made a difference, I coached mid-teens males who swam 1500m in well under 16 minutes and mid-teens females who were well under 17 minutes.
Any of them would have considered someone who merely broke 20 minutes as 'live bait.'

On the other hand, having just broken into the 60+ age group I'd be ecstatic about swimming under 20 min and not at all shy at arguing such a performance deserves to be described as elite.

What is my point here? Same one I've been making throughout this thread. Terms such as Elite, Fast, Average, Slow are purely subjective labels that -- unless qualified in highly specific ways (minimally including age and gender)-- can only be imprecise, unclear and more likely to be self-limiting than enabling.

So I will continue to advocate for
1) Measure your swim performance in objective terms - speed, distance, stroke length, stroke rate, time
2) Focus on improving one or more of those metrics.
3) Take pleasure in the process and the healthful rewards of being improvement-oriented.

terry 03-28-2011 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thatchman (Post 18600)
I am 45 and a social triathlete competing for fun but i also want to do the best I can.

This statement virtually guarantees a rewarding experience. Calling oneself a 'social triathlete' demonstrates perspective. Following that with "want to do the best I can" is evidence of the Kaizen spirit.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thatchman (Post 18600)
In Jan, I did the SA 70.3 and finished in 6h07 which was in the top third of all finishes. However I was in the top 14% in the run, the top 45% on the bike and only top 82% in the swim. Clearly my swimming is out in terms of my athletic ability which points to technique issues.

These measures are both objective and revealing. The path to improvement in swimming, because it can be done as a problem-solving exercise, has the potential to provide many moments of Flow, even Bliss.

CoachBillL 03-28-2011 03:24 PM

Inherent virtue
 
In reply to Danny's question above, "Don't I wonder...": I used to think about this when I played a lot of squash -- I was an almost/sort of B player, and I used to ponder how much harder A players could hit the ball -- some combination of coordination and strength, I think, the ability to put all the muscle where it needs to be at just the right micro-second. But I think there is no solving that problem, short of being reborn into another body, and I prefer to work with the one I have now.

swimpaired 03-28-2011 04:27 PM

It's obvious from reading the posts here that I chose the right user name! Keeping things in perspective regarding TI though let me tell you how it's worked so far for me. I had never done, ever, over 700M in freestyle before my first triathlon and hadn't done freestyle period 90 days before it. This I did at age 59 (end of that calendar year). My swim was 1.2 miles open water with waves (I say 2 feet - just leave it that the people running the race apologized for the swim conditions after it and that I couldn't see the buoys) and I did it in 1:16. Sad huh ...yah...I know... and was last in my age group...but I did finish the race.
I've been working on the TI points off and on since then (10 months ago) and did a workshop recently. Friday my time for 1.2 miles in smooth water was 40:57. I didn't do this to practice distance. I did it to see where I was. Still terrible I know but that's quite a difference. Now I spend almost all my time on form. And find things every time I go out. So I have hope to be nearing or above the middle of the pack by my next race in May. Bottom line is, every time I gain on me I feel better! (And the times for others don't seem to slow any in the 60+ age group that I'm in this year!)

Now....if I can just get under 32.......

haradoo 06-13-2016 03:12 PM

This thread is very interesting - subjection is everything - and nothing...
I did a 10k on Friday, had never swum that far, but had reasonable expectations. Finished in around the time I'd expected, which happened to be 3 minutes over a 'benchmark' time.
I went onto the event website last night, and started to look at the results page...hmm, top 3rd overall....hmm, if I do gender only I'm top 30....hmm, if I do gender and age group I'm top 10 - basically could engineer my result or could enjoy my own improvement - the benchmark is you ;)


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