Counting Strokes - is fewer always better?
Hi, I bet everybody has done it before: "How low can I get my strokes per lane in this pool?" And soon enough you find yourself pushing off the wall a little harder, taking an additional 1-2 underwater dolphin kicks and, once near the end of the pool, gliding towards the wall where you could have easily fitted in another stroke. While all these little tricks are just a different sign of "being competitive", my question is actually targeting another aspect of reducing SPL:
I realized that I can "squeeze" out another 1-2 strokes off a lane by really stretching hard on the spearing arm, by really squeezing my butt and stiffen my legs. However, this technique significantly increases my "perceived exertion". I have to give up on some of Terry's guidelines like a weightless arm and relaxation in general. I can certainly swim much more relaxed at the same pace with just 2 strokes more per lane. However, this experience makes me wonder: How do I find my real ideal SPL?
I do believe that this dilemma (between optimizing for a low SPL vs. optimizing for a relaxed, smooth swim) can be found no matter at which level you're currently swimming. That's why I don't believe that just throwing out a number makes sense. Also, I'm trying to make this discussion pace-independent which might turn out to be stupid as the final goal of improving your technique will be improving speed. My coach always tells me: "Ignore pace for now." The reason might be that I still have a long way to go on improving my technique first, but I've been making great improvements while ignoring pace, so, I'll try to continue asking those questions in a "pace-agnostic" manner.
What are your opinions? What should you take into account when trying to find your personal ideal SPL-value?