Originally Posted by shuumai
OK, how about doing intervals of only 2 laps at a time? That would give you multiple opportunities to duplicate the feeling of the first lap during the second lap. Once you can maintain the feeling for 2 laps, increase to 3 lap, and so on.
Use the pauses between intervals to "reset" your body and think about the experience you just had and the focal point(s) you will use during your next interval.
Shuumai is offering the best advice here. I'll take it a bit farther.
One of the best ways to discover the leading edge
of any swimming skill is a ladder set. My two favorites when working on a skill that is particularly exacting or subtle enough to require my full attention are:
25 + 50 + 75 + 100, or
4 x 25 + 3 x 50 + 2 x 75 + 1 x 100
Whether it's an SPL, or a new skill, or a deeper perception, I try to establish it on the 25, then test whether I can maintain it reasonably close to the same level for a 50. If that goes well, I venture on to the 75, etc.
The first version is a simple test. The second version offers me a bit more opportunity to deepen my awareness, or the imprint, before trying to stretch my capability.
If I reach a point where I'm no longer satisfied with my expression of the new skill, I have two choices:
1) Back down the ladder -- I.E. If I lose it on the 75, return to the 50; or
2) Start at the bottom again.
In fact, when doing a ladder like this, I usually plan from the beginning to do at least 3 rounds. I've found that, as a rule of thumb, 3 rounds of any task or set works well as a way of understanding the task (round 1), puzzling out the solution (round 2), and neurally and kinesthetically imprinting the solution (round 3).
A 4th round may or may not be additive. In some cases, yes. In others you no longer sense improvement, or may feel yourself slip back a degree or two.
The key thing is to keep yourself balanced on the fine edge between the challenge of the task you set and your current level of skill.
The other questions are: (1) how much rest and (2) what to do while pausing between repeats.
The answers are:
1) Just enough, but not too much. Enough that fatigue or inattention do not become factors in your ability to do the task well. You want to feel equally fresh, physically and mentally, on subsequent repeats. Initially that will be challenging. As you practice -- and can master the task more efficiently -- you'll find you regenerate more quickly and your rest interval will naturally decrease. The main idea here on rest intervals is not to use random intervals
suggested in some book or article. Set your own intervals attuned to your own sense of readiness to do the task well.
2) Keep swimming mentally. Learn to visualize so vividly that your brain never stops working on the problem during the entire duration of the set. The great thing about swimming mentally is it can always be perfect.
And the same electrical signals from brain via neural fibers to muscle motor units get sent while swimming mentally as while doing it physically.