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Old 12-19-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default Improving Time while Maintaining SPL in 3 Strokes

Wed Dec 19 2500y in 50 min at SUNY

Today I went to the pool with a big ole' draggy suit (not a commercial 'drag' suit, just an old boxlike suit that's 2 sizes too big and has lost its shape) and no particular plan. I started with my Modified Medley tuneup swim -- did my slowest time yet -- and decided to devote my practice to improving that mix of backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. As usual, what resulted was a hugely satisfying series of tasks. And measurable improvement!

This is my series of tasks:
1. 400 Modified Medley [25FR25BK25BR) at 13-14-7 SPL respectively. Get time.
2. Descend 4 x 150 No-Fly-Medley [50BK50BR50FR] at same stroke counts.
3. Repeat initial 400 at same stroke counts. Strive to improve time.
4. Repeat descending set of 4 x 150 but at +1 SPL for each stroke. Test how much improvement in time I could get for small increase in stroke count.

Here are my times
6:43 on 1st 400. This is over 30 seconds slower than earlier this week. I attribute this to struggling to complete each length in my assigned (quite low) SPL because I could feel the suit adding so much drag -- and found myself distracted by that. I think the distraction took more out of me than the drag.

I descended first set of 4 x 150 from 1:48 to 1:40. My concentration improved on each 150 and as it did, so did my times.

I repeated the 400 and this time went 6:15 with no change in SPL. I attribute this improvement of 28 seconds entirely to better focus which produced higher efficiency. This time I was completing each length in the low SPL much more strongly -- though it did take total focus to avoid increasing SPL.

Then I repeated the set of 4 x 150 and with the 'luxury' of an additional stroke on each length descended from 1:39 to 1:29 -- 11 seconds faster than on the earlier set. A 'trade' of 11 seconds for 6 additional strokes is one I'll take any day.

I finished with:
2 rounds of 4 x 50 FR on 1:00
Round 1 @ 14+15 SPL. I descended from 41 sec to 39 sec.
Round 2 @ 15+16 SPL. I descended from 40 sec to 38 sec. I hoped to go 37 sec, but couldn't quite make it, even giving myself an extra 50. A goal for next time.

What is the Key Takeaway for Forum browsers?
The times I did on these sets don't matter much -- because these are 'non-standard' swims. (What is a 'standard' swim? Any repeat that appears in an 'official' meet program. Or one that you and everyone else does regularly in training. Like, say 100y/m freestyle repeats.)

What matters most is that once I choose my task, I measure it via two or more data points -- in this case SPL and Time. If I can keep one data point constant, and improve the other data point, I congratulate myself for a job well done.

You can design any task and measure it this way. In fact I believe it's better to regularly plan practice tasks or sets that are non-standard. When you begin a set without a sense--from having done it 100s of times before-- of what your time (or any other data point, like stroke count) SHOULD BE, you are free to focus solely on . what it IS on your first repeat. The fun and flow come when you apply mindfulness -- and a measure of 'cunning' -- to improving it on subsequent repeats.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

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Last edited by terry : 12-20-2012 at 01:33 PM.