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Old 05-12-2010
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2,453
Default Improvement of 5 seconds/100 - How I did it

Hey everyone, I wanted to share my experiences with you of using the tempo trainer for the first time to apply to longer sets. I realize longer is relative, but for me I'm talking about 500 yards.

A few weeks ago while assisting at a clinic in FLA, Coach Shane Eversfield gave some ideas about how to use the tempo trainer to help in training for longer distances. The first step was: "Find a tempo at which you can comfortably swim a 500."

There was more to his set, but at this point I'm still trying to nail down a "comfortable 500" with the tempo trainer. I know that I can swim 500, but I'd never done so with a tempo trainer and I was nervous what it might teach me about my (bad?) swimming habits.

The first time I tried it, I chose a setting of 1.3 seconds, which feels downright slow when I do 50s or even 100s, but I know that I can maintain good form at that pace.

After 250 yards, I gave up on the set! My stroke was getting sloppy, my SPL went from 16 to 20, my turns went form flip to open and I was "stealing" extra seconds at the wall just trying to figure out how to regain control. The issue was not one of a lack of fitness, but rather swimming at a coordinated, consistent effort for the duration at a set tempo. The remainder of that set I continued at the same TT setting, but did repeats of 100s & 50s, which went just fine.

The following week I attempted it again. My goal was still to complete the set. I managed to alternate flip & open turns for a few hundred yards, then went to all open. The turns were taking 3-5 beeps from initiation to completion (instead of the 3 I was striving for), and my stroke rate stayed between 16-18. It was a better set, and I finished having set a new PR for 500 yards at 1:45/100.

I was thrilled, but knew that I was capable of swimming even better. With the metric of SPL, I knew that if I could keep my strokes consistent at 16 SPL, or improve my turns that I could easily take 20-30 seconds off teh set. Never before had I understood swimming so well. Can you imagine just staring at the pace clock wondering how you could get faster for your next effort? THere was no question about get faster I simply need to swim more consistently and now I had objective measures to follow.

Yesterday was my 3rd such attempt at completing 500 yards with the tempo trainer, and I set a new PR for 500 of 1:40/100! I started at the same setting (1.3s) and started the set with 14-16 SPL (how did that happen???). I was hitting every wall around 15 SPL with a well timed flip turn & pushoff using exactly 3 beeps for the turn and taking my first stroke on the 4th beep without feeling breathless.

The consistency with which I was swimming shocked me! After 300 I knew this would be another PR, not because I was trying to swim faster...just trying to swim better, following a plan. The manager stopped me with 25 yards to go to tell me the swim team would be arriving soon, but even with that 3-5 second delay included, I finished the set in 8:25, for a new PR (for the 2nd time in 2 weeks).

My focuses were primarily on maintaining some core tension and rotating from the core with the aid of my kick. I think that's how I got down to 14 SPL for the first few lengths.

From an email I sent to Terry after the set:

"I can't tell you how enlightening this is for me. I've never had this much control of my swimming before. Funny thing is that 2 weeks ago I would have said the same thing, and 2 weeks prior to that I would have said the same thing. It just keeps getting better."

Just wanted to share, I hope you all can experience the same sorts of improvements not just in swimming, but in your approach to planning your training.
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

Last edited by terry : 05-12-2010 at 09:03 PM.
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