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Old 03-24-2011
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
terry has disabled reputation

The question of what speed is 'average or slow' is unanswerable, because time by itself is an incomplete and imprecise measure of how you're swimming.

If you are 6 feet tall, 25 years old and male, those times would put you in one percentile of all swimmers with similar characteristics

If you are 5 feet tall, 55 years old, and female, the same times would put you in a radically different percentile.

And those are only a few characteristics that will influence how any particular level of efficiency translates to speed.

However I can say this much with great certainty: Simply being able to complete 8 x 200m -- or a 'broken mile' -- of swimming . . . at any speed . . . puts you in the 1st or 2nd percentile of all humans in swimming ability.

Having accomplished that, I'd suggest the following Principles of Improvement:

1) Speed is a math problem.' Any speed you swim will be a mathematically precise product of a particular Stroke Length multiplied by a particular Stroke Rate.

2) Speed is also an energy problem. In water, drag squares as speed increases. 5 percent more speed = 25% more drag. Therefore . . .

3) . . . Speed is ultimately a force gap problem. To move forward, the propulsive force you generate must exceed the water's resistive force. To swim faster, you must increase the difference between the two forces. Increasing propulsive force incurs high costs in power and energy. Reducing drag produces high savings - which increase by the same percentage as drag does. A low drag position cuts energy cost by 25% when speed increases by 5%.

That's why:
a) The workshop you're about to take will focus heavily on Balance and Streamlining skills.
b) In your own practice, prioritize SPL (stroke count per length of the pool) over other measures. Aim to incrementally and patiently improve it over short distances (100m or less), then to maintain it as you incrementally and steadily add distance (150-200-250 etc), then
c) bring in Stroke Rate as an additional measure, using a Tempo Trainer.

Every practice, indeed every set, focus on where you are right this moment, and how you can incrementally and patiently improve any of those three metrics - SPL, Tempo and Distance/Duration. (The biggest payoffs will come from (i) Balance, then (ii) Streamline, then (iii) Propulsion.)

Over 1, 2, 3, 6 months the seconds shown on the pace clock should 'melt' away.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 03-24-2011 at 01:17 PM.
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