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Old 12-05-2012
terry terry is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Default Permission to Swim More Slowly

Originally Posted by View Post
I usually start with a "warm-up" of 1000m.

But following that is very variable, sometimes only another 500, sometimes another 2000.

By starting with a longer distance and calling it a warm up, you can give yourself permission to swim more slowly.
Your phrase 'permission to swim more slowly' is quite powerful. I've relabeled what most people call "Warmup" . . . Tuneup . . . which I think better reflects the neural training emphasis. Warmup refers to a physiological process - increasing blood flow and thus muscle temperature, which makes the muscles more supple and responsive.

I only felt I had permission to swim more slowly in the last five or six years. In an email exchange with my friend (and TI student) Amby Burfoot, a Boston Marathon champ (68) and exec editor of Runner's World for 30 yrs, he related that Kenyan marathoners typically warm up for a race at a pace as slow as 9 minutes per mile -- close to half their racing speed.

I read that and thought 'when do I ever swim at half my racing speed?' At the time my best racing pace for the 1500m equivalent 1650y free was about 1:15 to 1:16 per 100. I realized I never swam at anything remotely close to 2:30, or even 2:00 per 100. But I decided that henceforth, I would start every practice by swimming at the slowest, easiest pace I could -- yet strive to remain fluent and rhythmic.

The effect was instantaneous. I felt and swam much better in everything that followed. Swimming at superslow paces (which turned out to be somewhere between 1:30 and 1:40) did two things: (1) I became hypersensitized to the interaction of my body and the water; and (2) My balance and stability were far better tuned -- and I could feel the difference at every faster speed. Within a few months I had swum the 1650 in a pace of 1:12 per 100. Giving myself permission to swim slower, made a clear difference in enabling me to swim faster.

In teaching in my EP, I've seen that virtually no one knows how to swim slowly . . . and well. Students who are far slower than me in racing terms cannot keep from crashing into the current-generating unit at the front of the pool when I set the current at moderate speeds. Then I turn the current much gentler and show them I can swim easily in place without compromising form.

Three specific ways to swim slower
1) Observe your hand speed on catch. After a moment-of-stillness begin catch with the slowest possible speed and lightest possible pressure.
2) Explore how slowly you can recover, without introducing discontinuity (no back-end pauses) or instability.
3) Turn your TT down gradually. Can you maintain flow at 1.80?

And here's another idea. Try doing an ASCENDING set. Descending sets are so commonplace. Everyone reflexively does them all the time. If you want a special or memorable set, give yourself permission to do an Ascending set.

Test your ability to swim gradually slower over the course of a series of 50 or 100y/m repeats.
Here are several possible Ascending skills
1) How much can you ascend in a single set?
2) How much can you ascend on a single stroke count?
3) Pace Control: Can you ascend a series of repeats by exactly one second each?
I'm going to try that today after my tuneup then start a thread on that topic.

I think you'll discover these are exacting skills requiring great focus and great body control. And therefore invaluable.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 12-05-2012 at 10:36 AM.
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