Originally Posted by descending
Oh I definitely agree a faster turn over can mask a lot of bad problems. I just see so many people in the triathlete realm who have strokes that are more than capable of going a lot faster they just tinker around trying to reach total perfection before putting any effort into a workout. I have two triathlete friends in particular who both have strokes that are better than mine but I can whip them by 2 and 3 minutes in a 500. I don't even swim distance and my IM relay swim split time was 15 minutes faster than one of these guys. All he needs to do is swim harder and he will be a monster and he constantly talks about his desire to get faster. He thinks he needs better technique. A six-month block of hard swimming and he would close the gap on me greatly in within a year he'd catch me and pass me.
I've been following this back and forth with some interest. Obviously I have learned a lot from Stuart, not the least being (last week) that my long-standing catch problem was really a lack of adequate core rotation, and the catch fixed itself once I fixed the core rotation deficit.
But desc has some good points; I wonder all the time how much they apply to me, and should I be doing more anaerobic sets, or more rapid cadence practice and ignore my already high SPL and just allow it to get even higher. I am an adult onset swimmer who, despite all my efforts and regular practice am amazingly slow considering the time and concentration I have put in. I know I have a high cardio-reparatory capacity for my age, and I know I have good upper body strength, and sometimes it seems like a mystery why it's taking so long. But I have utter respect for the very specific skills and particular strengths that swimming demands, and I have to allow some time for them to be developed -- fortunately I think it's finally starting to come to me.
I have resisted the knee jerk idea of "just pull harder" that seemed so attractive 2 years ago. In retrospect that was a good idea resolutely not to imprint struggle, because I think the improvements of the last few weeks would not have been possible had I not carefully avoided continuing whenever I was slipping out of whatever good technique level I had come to be capable of. As a result, now I'm increasingly able to hold on to reasonable form despite some fatigue stress from longer distance repeats. Consequently, I think I can start to go a little more in the direction that desc suggests in terms of intensity, but only because and as long as my technique holds up reasonably.
As Stuart has alluded to, being able to train fast is as important as being able to train less fast but with insight as to how long your pace will let you go for. Also some insight as to being able to independently parse your stroke rate and stroke distance can be very valuable. Keep in mind that both of you recognise that the end goal is the same -- to end up with the capability to complete the given event in the shortest amount of time. For myself, although I'm training for an event where I will do 1.9k or 3.8k in the water and the race is only 1/8th over, I do see the merit in sometimes training (swimming) at faster paces than I will be racing at, strictly to put on strength (the rationale being that having developed the strength to do the prescribed distance at quite a fast pace, I can back off a little in a tri race, and finish the swim leg in a faster time than I would have been able to had I not practiced intense swim sets, but still with lots of gas left in the tank for the rest of the race.).