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Old 03-11-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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I want to share a pattern I have seen a few times in my practice.

My favorite pre-set is 25s descending with the tempo trainer holding one stroke count. For example, last night I did

25s fly, descending from 1.8s/stroke at 8 strokes until I couldn't hold that any more. I usually descend .02 per length.

When I got to 1.65, I had an amazing lap. All of a sudden, I felt my arms pressing forward at the surface on entry. I felt the water supporting my chest so I didn't dive too deep. I felt my feet flick at exactly the right time to drive my hands forward more and faster. And my stroke count dropped to 7.

A few weeks ago, a similar feeling happened in my free style.

It seems, that I have a hard time feeling perfect timing at slow speeds. By speeding up, my body is forced to experiment with different timings and sometimes finds a great pattern. My approach when this happens is to do a few lengths to imprint that feeling. THen I attempt to speed up AND slow down and maintain the feeling. I practice holding the feeling while speeding up to improve my race. I practice holding the feeling while slowing down because I believe that speed can hide many problems. If I can't find the same feeling at low speeds, then I am cheating somewhere.

I have posted several times that I am a firm believer in training the nervous system to feel the correct movements. And this training can take two forms:
1. cut out as much sensation as possible and force your brain to find it. This is why we don't use drag suits, do use fist gloves, and swim slowly.
2. Exaggerate the sensation so your brain understands what it is looking for then back off the exaggeration to find the feeling in normal swimming conditions. This is why we use fins, paddles, pull buoys (if used correctly) and speed up.

We don't often talk about the second approach here, so I wanted to bring it up.
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Old 03-12-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachEricD View Post
I have posted several times that I am a firm believer in training the nervous system to feel the correct movements. And this training can take two forms:
1. cut out as much sensation as possible and force your brain to find it. This is why we don't use drag suits, do use fist gloves, and swim slowly.
2. Exaggerate the sensation so your brain understands what it is looking for then back off the exaggeration to find the feeling in normal swimming conditions. This is why we use fins, paddles, pull buoys (if used correctly) and speed up.

We don't often talk about the second approach here, so I wanted to bring it up.
I agree that it's helpful to use both extremes. I've been having some experience with the second approach lately. While I don't get along with pull buoys and I fear paddles due to a sensitive shoulder, I do like my fins. I have Zura Alpha fins and I just ordered Speedo breaststroke fins. (That should be interesting.)

The Zura Alpha fins definitely add speed. That speed makes a big difference when it comes to streamlining and hand entry. I'm hoping the breaststroke fins will help with technique. If nothing else, fins help with conditioning and they're fun.

Then again, today, unless I made a mistake, my 50-yard breaststroke was 5 seconds faster when I focused on relaxation and reducing drag. Then, when I tried to go faster, I was slower. heh (I really need that 5 seconds and 5 more, and maybe another 5.)
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Old 03-12-2009
naj naj is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachEricD View Post
If I can't find the same feeling at low speeds, then I am cheating somewhere.
This is my problem at the moment CoachEric, when I speed up I feel a lot of speed and zooming along but then I begin to sense something isn't right and I go back to a slower speed and would ya know it, I'm a bit off balance, or my hand entry isn't as clean, or something else has gone screwy. But for now I'll keep with the slow speed and improve my technique till I know I can use the timer and see what I can do. It's coming along though :)
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Old 03-12-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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Naj,
Exactly. There are two thoughts happening here.
1. My point- speeding up may point out a sensation you have been searching for.
2. Your point - speeding up may force bad habits before you have imprinted the perfect technique.

Your point is why we encourage so much slow swimming. Most of us cannot hold our technique as we first try to speed up. The descending practice I mentioned has been great for me in preventing the second from happening because I never descend more than I can hold my best technique. I like to add a set of 25-50-75-100 after the descent to imprint perfect technique at that tempo and to force myself to find an easier way to hold that tempo and stroke count.
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Old 03-13-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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What good is it to work on, for example, a hand entry that works at slow speed, but ends up dragging through the water at higher speeds? Until you start moving faster, you will never know. Maybe you will need different hand entries for different speeds? Again, how will you know?
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Old 03-13-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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Shuumai,
I am not sure if your post was intended to be rhetorical or not. So I'll answer to continue the discussion.

I don't know if there is a consensus on this among the TI coaches or not. But, to use your example of entry position, I agree with you that it changes with speed. I had this discussion with John Beaty at a workshop once.

One of my favorite focal points is silent swimming. In order to have your hand enter completely silently, your fingers, wrist, elbow AND shoulder must enter through the same whole in the water. For most people, that requires the hand entry to be much closer to the head and steeper at slow speeds and much farther in front at higher speeds. I prefer to make this change in practice so I learn to make the change automatically as I change speeds.

John suggested that he never wants to practice a movement that he will not use at speed. He has seen too many swimmers get stuck in the near head hand entry and end up pushing water forward at high speeds which increases drag. I believe he said he reserves the silent focal point for swimming at speed and knows he will always hear an elbow slap at slow speeds.

I guess the difference is what are we trying to imprint. I am trying to imprint the body awareness to make adjustments while swimming. John's technique better imprints one movement. I try to think about the difference. If my entry point must move forward by one inch to remain silent as I transition from 1:30/100 to 1:20/100, is that inch making enough difference to be worth practicing? I don't have an answer to that question.

I guess another example that I have been playing with lately is the hand exit point. When I swim slowly, I allow my anchor to fall all the way back to my thigh to emphasize the skating position. As I speed up, I have found that I can, and have to, move that exit point way up to what feels like my ribs (probably actually my hip, but I am still playing) without losing distance per stroke. That shortens the time my arm is in the water and allows a shorter and easier recovery. Should we always practice the exit point we will use at high speeds or allow it to change? I am not sure.

Last edited by CoachEricDeSanto : 03-13-2009 at 03:47 AM.
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Old 03-13-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Right, there seem to be three ways to go about it. Use fast technique, even when swimming slow. Use slow technique, even when swimming fast. Adjust technique based on speed. I guess part of the trick is figuring out what can stay the same and what needs to change. (Maybe I'll have an answer when I can do 100y in 1 minute. Don't wait around. hehe)
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