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Old 05-27-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2,453
Default The first Post TI Workshop Swim where I set a 100 PR

I"m reposting this practice in this forum because it's the place people come to to discover new practice sets. I posted this originally in a reply on the main forum, but it's a great story and I want it to have it's own home here on the TI practices and sets forum.


When I had just finished my first TI weekend workshop and 5 weeks later, coach training, I didn't look at the clock for a few months, and never swam more than 75 yards at once and no "workouts" longer than 1500. I did this fora bout 6 months. I snuck a few peeks at the clock but it was never a goal or defined my swim.

i foucsed on a variety of focal points I knew I had as opportunities and swam lots of drills in a warm therapy pool, lots of 25s, 50s and 75s. That seeemd to be the point where I would fatigue and the focal point would slip away.

I continued to do this until I had the ability to choose an SPL and hit it at gradually increasing SPLs. So my easiest efforts were SPL of 15-16 in a 25 yd pool, and my more "effortful" lengths were 18-19 SPL. With effort ++ I could do a 14 SPL but that took a lot of muscle. So the tradeoff in effort was for rate, not for longer SPL. My spl decreased as my effort increased, but the main focus was on having control of what choice of SPL I used.

Then Terry came to Pittsburgh and we had a swim together...this was the set and I remember it well:

200 cruise
8 x 25 brisk
200 cruise
4 x 50 brisk
200 cruise
2 x 100 brisk
200 cruise
200 brisk
and back down that ladder.

We were swimming as a 3 some and Terry and the other coach were much faster than I. We all used a 2 min/ 100 send off so I usually sat out the first 1 or 2 repeats of the brisk set, which helped me stay on track with them AND get the rest I needed to swim fast.

The goal was to maintain the same SPL for the cruise as for the brisk. So for me it was 200 cruise at 16 SPL (pace of about 1:50/100), and then 25 brisk holding 16 SPL, 50 brisk holding 16 SPL, etc. it required a different focus. My best 100 times were still "slow" however...about 1:38, while Terry was ripping off 1:20s easily and seemingly without effort

Terry watched me swim the 100 brisk and his comment to me was, "See how many strokes you can fit in without losing a sense of control"

I did so and I had to sit out the next 100 not because I was tired but because I started at the pace clock in disbelief. I had just set a PR of 1:22 for a 100 yard swim by swimming 22SPL. And it was Terry that helped me get there.

So the months and months of control I had developed paid off in maintaining stroke length at a high rate...the combination got me speed I had never seen before (maybe when I was 12 but I have long since lost those records and my memory is not that good)

SO my advice is to work in your SPL range in the green zone, and continually explore ways to make your swimming feel easier, not to swim faster. Explore focal points and see what the outcome is in terms of SPL...worry about speed later, because speed incorporates rate and higher rate is counter-productive to learning new skills.
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

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Old 05-27-2016
Posts: n/a

Sounds great! My pool hasn't had a wall clock for a few weeks now although they keep promising it'll be replaced soon. Maybe I should take advantage of its absence!
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Old 05-27-2016
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 712
Tom Pamperin

Thanks, Coach Suzanne,

this sounds similar to the approach I've taken in my training this spring/winter. And I remember vividly a few years back, when I was (probably misguidedly at the time) focused on low SPLs, when Terry gave me the same advice (via this forum) to "fit in as many strokes as you can and see what happens" and I quickly found a whole bunch of free easy speed.
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