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  #1  
Old 08-14-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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s.sciame
Default In praise of high elbow catch

I had a surprising great pool session yesterday after 1 week swimming solely in the sea, in quite choppy waters.

The main set was 50x50m (scm) at my estimated 400m pace (1:32/100m) with no more than 15s rest. As USRPT, the set was designed to fail before the last rep. After 1 week of sea swimming, I naturally started the set with a slightly shorter stroke but higher stroke rate. After about 10 reps I felt like I'd better try to shave 1SPL and slow the rate a touch if I wanted to last more (say, up to 40 reps). Moreover I know that in challenging sets I usually lose 1 or 2SPL throughout the set when fatigue starts to build, so it was important to "protect" stroke length at least in the first reps. So I was able to shave 1SPL and keep the pace, that made me some more confidence about lasting enough in the set. I was breathing bilaterally every 3 strokes and air seemed to be enough (didn't need more air yet).

But the real breakthrough came between 20 to 15 reps to go: I focused on keeping my elbows a bit higher in the catch and visualized this famous Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bPvk0paWcg

I just tried to keep my elbows that high to reduce drag and apply as little pressure as possible to leave my shoulders at ease. In spite of being at the point where fatigue starts to build and I usually lose 1SPL, by raising the elbows I was able to shave 1 more SPL without trying, so that I could also slow down the rate another touch and still keep the target pace. I did the last 15 reps smiling, didn't hit any failure and, after the 50th rep and 15s rest, I also tried a 100m at the same pace and succeded it too.

I guess raising my elbows improved my overall body position: in fact, in order to keep elbows high and wide I also wanted to stretch forward some more and felt my chest open and my shoulder blades together and back (as a consequence, not on purpose). I also felt more stretching at the lats and the legs easily trailing back. It felt like flying, like in the video above, I never held this pace that easily and that long.
I also realized that a spearing arm can create more drag than I used to think (barely noticeable at slower paces).

Lastly, my shoulders were perfectly fine during the set and after. Today I only feel a subtle stretch at my rib cage, which I think is a good sign.

Best regards,
Salvo
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  #2  
Old 08-14-2015
descending descending is offline
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You found out exactly why a shallow drafting upper arm and high elbow catch is faster: less drag. It's not b/c you catch more water and it's not b/c it puts the shoulder in a more mechanically advantageous position. It's less drag. The faster you go I'm sure you know the higher the drag. At slow speeds you can get away with a lot of different catch and pull configurations, but at some point only short sprint efforts can provide enough power to overcome a deep arm position vs high elbow. Once the upper arm goes off axis the drag goes up enormously, so the longer you can keep it on axis the less drag.

I'd encourage you to start that USRPT set with those catch mechanics and watch where your failure rep comes. There is a conditioning component you might need to go through to keep that upper arm in position for 50 x 50, but it's not a big deal won't take long. Will be quite interested to hear your feedback if you keep on with this approach. It's not an accident you experienced what you did it just works.

Good for you!

Last edited by descending : 08-14-2015 at 08:27 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2015
sojomojo sojomojo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post

But the real breakthrough came between 20 to 15 reps to go: I focused on keeping my elbows a bit higher in the catch and visualized this famous Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bPvk0paWcg
The video of Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen is one of my all time favorites. There’s no chatter to distract you; only visual grace. I’ve watched it countless times especially when I get in a rut and need some inspiration and motivation to get back into swimming.
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2015
Streak Streak is offline
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A very good video. Makes you want to hit the pool now!
I need to go back and try this super high elbow again. I found before that it was a little uncomfortable.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen also has the advantage of a very powerful kick to compliment her front quadrant stroke which gives her a massive distance per stroke advantage over my 2bk which in my opinion contributes nothing unless I am wearing fins!
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2015
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Being focussed on body tone and shoulder hip connection lately it amazes how solid her trunck is in this video. Arm and leg actions are connected absolutely stable to each other.
Perfect kick timing finishes it off.
Her whole posture is so much better than most swimmers.
Really transmits the full benefits of that EVF or the good kick to the main vessel.

It seems her normal stroke is far removed from ths style/rate of swimming, but for beginners its perfect to get the whole basics of the stroke in slow motion to mentally swim along. When i watch this video a few time and have it in my head when in the pool I also have a few great laps trying to swim like her.

She doesnt roatate much so her breathing must be difficult. Compared to most swimmers she rotates the head a lot. Almost 90 degrees right in line with the shoulders. Maximal head rotation angle is timed perfectly with maximal bodyroll angle. Thats done quite skilfully too.
If I rotate my head that far its not very comfortable even on dryland. Have to rotate the body more or swim faster.

I always find focussing on high elbows is rather tyring for the upper side of the shoulder. I believe the delotids are used for lifting that arm and elbow high every time.
Is that not a problem for you guys?

Last edited by Zenturtle : 08-15-2015 at 08:06 AM.
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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I have a lot of trouble figuring out the cadence between her legs and arms in this film. Is she using a 2, 4, or 6 b kick? It's a little hard for me to tell. It seems that photographers tend to focus on the upper body when filming, when I find it much more helpful to always try to aim for a full body shot. There are a few places where you see her full body, but I still can't figure out her kick.
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  #7  
Old 08-15-2015
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Just standard 6BK with bigger main kicks that resemble the 2BK timing when bodyroll starts accelerating.
R, 2,3, L, 2,3,R,2,3,L,2,3....
If she starts to really pull (and the other side arm extends) the main same side downkick starts.
Before she executes the main kicks she really loads up the body and leg for the main kick.
Such a great swimmer. Same can be seen on the Thorpe clip looking at him from behind.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcCP_SLvNgw
When she has the fins on the kick gets muddy.

Coach Mandy also really loads up the same downkick, only skips the other 4 in between kicks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiPpiC0629I

Last edited by Zenturtle : 08-15-2015 at 01:57 PM.
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  #8  
Old 08-16-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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s.sciame
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Quote:
Originally Posted by descending View Post

I'd encourage you to start that USRPT set with those catch mechanics and watch where your failure rep comes. There is a conditioning component you might need to go through to keep that upper arm in position for 50 x 50, but it's not a big deal won't take long. Will be quite interested to hear your feedback if you keep on with this approach. It's not an accident you experienced what you did it just works.

Good for you!
Thanks Descending, I can't wait till I'll repeat that set with higher elbows from the beginning (I wish I had already done it but I couldn't go swimming in the last days, too bad). Moreover, since last time I didn't fail, I think I'll try 1s per 100m faster.

For me, a deeper spear worked very well last winter where I patiently got my threshold from 1:50/100m to 1:40/100m with CSS and aerobic training. Faster than that I feel like that deep upper arm creates drag. At the moment I also feel like a USRPT approach could serve me better than CSS (I feel I'm ok aerobically but I should add some more speed in my practices).

I'll enter an open water race (3km in a lake) in less than 1 month, hope I'll be able to ingrain this catch mechanics in time, it would be great.

So, another "experiment" I'm trying is to see how fine USRPT works for open water swimming over distances longer than 1500m.

I'll keep you posted if you're interested, thanks again!
Salvo
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  #9  
Old 08-17-2015
descending descending is offline
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Suggestion is to be incredibly aware of what changes when you miss the interval. Race pace training is the opposite of threshold in many respects. Threshold aims to take the current technique and slowly adapt a faster pace over time in addition to hopefully changing the technique over time as drag increases. Race pace takes the absolute best fastest technique you can hold for a very short distance and then elongates the time you can sustain it. I became a huge fan of it the moment I read about it b/c I never felt the old programs I'd been on spent enough time at race pace where the drag is highest. It's just too darn difficult to find ways to mimic the drag at these paces. You can only do so much overspeed work with fins and stretch cords b/c it's just dramatically different than unassisted swimming.

Don't get discouraged failing sets this is how it works. You should be failing much more frequently at USRPT sets than finishing them off or you are doing it wrong. Go get 'em! You have already found out a shallow upper arm and high elbow are faster even at your current pace. Be aware of this as you go faster and harder b/c these are the changes that allow you to grab that next chunk of time. Make sure you read the primer on USRPT it's a quick read b/c using your threshold pace is minus 1 or 2 seconds is almost certainly not fast enough. Specifically the first 10 or so USRPT workouts you do if done at the proper workload>>>>you are going to feel like you have done more work in the pool by far than you ever thought could be done = sleep like a lump of coal. Then that's your new normal and it's nothing. It's not for everyone, but it's how I keep setting PR's as I approach 50 where I had been stuck in a rut with threshold. The bonus is I do a ton less yardage than threshold training. 30% less I'd say on an average month.

Last edited by descending : 08-17-2015 at 03:56 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-17-2015
POK POK is offline
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Descending,

Over what distances are you setting PRs? What were your PRs before, and what are they now?

Thank you

Paraic
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