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  #31  
Old 08-31-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Originally Posted by gary p View Post
Since I came back to swimming about a year and a half ago (after a 27 year layoff), I've been primarily training for sprints and middle distance. I swam the 50, 100, and 400 meter free at last year's USMS Summer Nationals Championship. Wanted to go back this year, but the logistics just won't work. The USMS 2 Mile Cable Swim National Championship, however, is conveniently close and on a weekend I'm free so I'm targeting that as my "big meet" of the year. As such, I've recently shifted my workouts to more distance-focused sets.

I've found myself struggling with balance at the slower training speeds. And while I can start a rep with what I consider a good SPL, fatigue would set in faster than I would expect given the amount of effort I was expending and my SPL would expand to the edge of my green zone relatively quickly.

Based on a recent 1650 performance (21:17) and my distance in the 1 hour ePostal challenge (4315 yards), I settled on starting with a 1:22/100 target training pace for the 2 mile race. Thursday I set out to do 200's (SCY) on 3:00 with a target time of 2:44, USRPT style. That means if I failed to meet the target time, I would rest an extra minute and resume. Two consecutive failures, or three failures would signal the end of the set. I failed at rep 8, rep 10, and rep 11.

Tried the same set today. As I went further into the set, I was feeling much of the same fatigue. It was frustrating, like I wasn't getting enough air even though I was swimming at what felt like a slow pace. About half way through the 8th repetition, I made a conscious effort to spear deeper, if not quite as far forward. In other words, I quit reaching so much. It felt so good that I kept going at the 200 mark and did another 100 like that. I rested only long enough to be resume at the time I should have been flipping at 100 yards of the 9th repetition. I continued as normal on the 10th repetition. My SPL on the first length of the 200 was 1-2 higher than earlier in the set, but I was able to hold that SPL through the whole 200. I also felt able to pull and kick with a little more force without getting unduly tired. I came in at ~2:40 on rep 10. And again on 11..and 12, 13, 14, and 15. That one change had netted me about 2 seconds/100 at the same effort. Jackpot! As I was running out of time, I had to quit after rep 16. I pressed harder on that last rep, and finished in a 2:33. I swear I could have done at least 4 or 5 more at 2:40 if I'd had the time. That little adjustment seemed to allow me to get more air in with each breath. Or maybe I was just staying in a more streamlined position, and not fighting as much drag. Either way, I felt much stronger.

Tomorrow is team practice, where I'll end up doing shorter reps at a faster pace. It'll be fun to experiment with the different spearing target at different speeds to see if there are similar gains to be found there.
I wanted to resume this old thread because the deeper spear is one of the few topics where, since my early days, my feelings have always been changing continuously.
Only one week ago I was in the middle of an open water swim in choppy water and, if by chance my arm entered not shallow, I was hit and stalled by the incoming wave.
Conversely, yesterday at the pool I experienced something similar to Gary above: I was in the first quarter of a 40x50m at fixed SR/SPL (70SPM/20SPL) and I was already feeling too fatigued too early when I tried to spear deep and I saw the light: I started hitting 19SPL easily on the way out and no problem in holding 20SPL on the way back, meaning I was gaining almost 1s for less effort (happier shoulders). I finished the set successfully and super steady, the last 10 reps w/o TT and still keeping the same pace for the same effort. During the set I sometimes reverted to a shallow spear to compare and I systematically reverted to 1 more SPL and more fatigue.

I always thought that a deep spear could work well only at slowish rates but during the above set I noticed that I still felt fine at 70SPM. So, at the end of the set, I wanted to try a few 25m sprints with deeper spear and with my pleasure I could stroke faster (no TT but I'm pretty sure it was above 80SPM) without any problem: I threw the arm deep and forward as if I had to grab a fish and it didn't feel like fighting the water at all. More tests tomorrow on this.

I was wondering how Gary is progressing with this deep spear by the way. My personal experience over some years of swimming is a cycle: a deep spear is something you gradually abandon while improving your technique and flexibility, but over time technique eventually gets "dirty" again and the deep spear comes back as a wonderful RESET: gives balance (also lateral) and stability and prevents pressing water in wrong directions while giving ease to shoulders. During these cycles I often appreciate that the deep spear still fits faster rates and paces than I expected. For me it works really bad in ow with choppy conditions but in the pool I guess it can be my friend for a long time.

Salvo
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  #32  
Old 09-02-2017
gary p gary p is offline
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Like you, I found the deep spear to be an arrow in the quiver that could be useful in some situations, but wasn't the end-all, be-all answer. At times when I was fatigued while deep spearing, I would go back to a long, horizontal reach and get some relief.

I injured myself doing a flip turn last fall, was out 8 weeks, then missed another 6 weeks with a recurring illness. Concentrated on sprints for the remainder of short course season, then went right to triathlon season where I swam just enough to stay competent. I'm just now getting back to working on my long distance form in earnest, and I still haven't found my groove. Ever since I was out for those few months, I've felt like my catch on my breathing side just isn't quite right. I'm experimenting a lot, trying to find the sweet spot, and seem to be narrowing in on something that's about half way between my two previous extremes, depth-wise. But I need to get myself to a clinic where I can get some expert analysis, especially since I'm leaning towards making the 1650 my primary race for this short course season.

Last edited by gary p : 09-02-2017 at 03:02 AM.
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  #33  
Old 09-02-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello gary_p,

Quote:
...I'm experimenting a lot, trying to find the sweet spot,...
Do I understand right, you're trying to find a "sweet target" where to spear?

If so, a thought from me FWIW. If my spearing arms are feeling "somewhat different" (what happens too often :-( ) I focus in the feeling of both spears, to feel without any drag along the whole arm. In my case I often feel a little "slip-drag" on my outer left upper arm, which shows me, I've to spear more outside until it's vanished... (Although my proprioception tells me, I'm nearly spearing rectangular to my bodyline...) You might give it try wihtout outer advice. Just try to move as if your arms really do slip into the water without any radial forces attacking them...

Best regards,
Werner
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  #34  
Old 09-02-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary p View Post

I injured myself doing a flip turn last fall, was out 8 weeks, then missed another 6 weeks with a recurring illness. Concentrated on sprints for the remainder of short course season, then went right to triathlon season where I swam just enough to stay competent. I'm just now getting back to working on my long distance form in earnest, and I still haven't found my groove. Ever since I was out for those few months, I've felt like my catch on my breathing side just isn't quite right. I'm experimenting a lot, trying to find the sweet spot, and seem to be narrowing in on something that's about half way between my two previous extremes, depth-wise. But I need to get myself to a clinic where I can get some expert analysis, especially since I'm leaning towards making the 1650 my primary race for this short course season.
Sorry to hear about the injury. 8 weeks is a lot, didn't even think a flip turn could be so "dangerous". Good luck for the new season!

Salvo
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  #35  
Old 09-02-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
Hello gary_p,


Do I understand right, you're trying to find a "sweet target" where to spear?

If so, a thought from me FWIW. If my spearing arms are feeling "somewhat different" (what happens too often :-( ) I focus in the feeling of both spears, to feel without any drag along the whole arm. In my case I often feel a little "slip-drag" on my outer left upper arm, which shows me, I've to spear more outside until it's vanished... (Although my proprioception tells me, I'm nearly spearing rectangular to my bodyline...) You might give it try wihtout outer advice. Just try to move as if your arms really do slip into the water without any radial forces attacking them...

Best regards,
Werner
Thanks for the reminder to pay close attention!. I just used to spear sort of deep and wide, but without paying any attention, and not really being aware of any feedback except in a kind of general balance sense. I will henceforth try to pay close attention to any radial forces.

P.S. On thinking about this a bit, is it actually the spearing action resulting in "zero" radial forces that I'm trying to shoot for?

That would only be correct if the point of deep spearing was to minimize drag, which is accomplished by a most accurate axially directed spear.

But I thought some aspect of the deep spearing strategy was to cause some (slight) downward planing of the front of the body lever, to help raise the back end of the body and the legs. I know with my general high density, leg-dropping is a major problem for me, and I try to correct this every way I can.

Maybe, as usual, I'm over-thinking this. I should just wait till next pool time and actually try it and experiment with the sensations.
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  #36  
Old 09-02-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Sclim,

you're right in finest details, because our body-system, hip-shoulder-elbow-wrist, doesn't allow any spearing motion without tiny what I called radial attacks; but they should be minimized to not feelable (maybe I'm not sensible enough). When I'm feeling on my upper arm a force from outside, my spear is too narrow, from inside, my spear is too broad (seldom), from below, my spear is too far upward, from upside, the spear is too deep... or the arm drifted too slowly (slower than forward movement) into the catch...

If you really do need the last for horizontal legs, you're producing a bunch of drag. And this even with shorter arm-lever than your longer (and streamlined) and heavier legs will. Think relaxation in front, together with good balance and active and passive streamline will do a much better job for horizontal legs alone from the resulting additional pace.

But many words... Give it try, enoy if it works for you too, forget it if it doesn't.

Best regards,
Werner
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  #37  
Old 09-03-2017
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Hi Werner,

I'm not sure what you mean by radial attack or radial forces in a swimming context. Typically radial or radius force is connected with the deformation of an object due to spinning forces about an axis that cause some reshaping or deformation of an object such as the changing shape of a tire at high speeds. How does that apply to spearing arm?

Re: Spearing depth. I think it's much more simple than we make it out to be and also very personal given the length of arm and rate of turnover. What I usually ask swimmers is to notice the low side arm in their peripheral vision *provided* they are in good posture, head/spine/hips aligned, goggles down (not looking forward). When at full forward extension, rotation complete, you should see (in peripheral vision), the sliver of (low side) arm to about mid forearm, but not the hand. If you see the hand, it's a bit too deep stunting body length. If you don't see the forearm, it's probably too high, scooping toward surface, hips dropping and body decelerating. Peripheral vision awareness provides excellent cues for every swimmer.

But always experiment with multiple positions to find out where your body feels most stable and slippery, as well as, where you get sticky and decelerate. For example, spear really deep, easily see hand in peripheral vision for a few strokes; then next few strokes lay recovery flat or scoop toward surface (can't see forearm in peripheral vision); finally find somewhere in between you are most stable, quickest and connected in the water.

Stu

Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 09-03-2017 at 02:32 AM.
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  #38  
Old 09-03-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Stuart,

Quote:
I'm not sure what you mean by radial attack or radial forces in a swimming context.
Think your spear is too good to feel it... and my words are missing the needed precision. Another try: We have to spear our arms, but at least the elbowjoint < or > (and the shoulder joint - not on my typeboard) makes it impossible to stretch the arms without addtional forces (to the seperating forces onto the fingertips) from front on both parts of the arm from front (Cameleon's tounges are much better in that). Best will be -theoretical- the least possible forces from "outside" on the lower arm and from "inside" on the upper arm together...

Hope my generalized individual statement (taking the felt upper arm as reference for spear correction) didn't spend general confusion. But am intersted to read, what others feel about, and how it turns out together with your suggestions about the view-perspective. (Will try it myself too...)

If a bad spear impacts a well balanced body with good passive and active streamline or if a bad bodyshape will make good spear impossible is, like often in swimming, somewhat of the chicken and egg problem.

Best regards,
Werner

Last edited by WFEGb : 09-03-2017 at 06:40 AM.
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  #39  
Old 09-03-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi Werner,

I'm not sure what you mean by radial attack or radial forces in a swimming context. Typically radial or radius force is connected with the deformation of an object due to spinning forces about an axis that cause some reshaping or deformation of an object such as the changing shape of a tire at high speeds. How does that apply to spearing arm?

Re: Spearing depth. I think it's much more simple than we make it out to be and also very personal given the length of arm and rate of turnover. What I usually ask swimmers is to notice the low side arm in their peripheral vision *provided* they are in good posture, head/spine/hips aligned, goggles down (not looking forward). When at full forward extension, rotation complete, you should see (in peripheral vision), the sliver of (low side) arm to about mid forearm, but not the hand. If you see the hand, it's a bit too deep stunting body length. If you don't see the forearm, it's probably too high, scooping toward surface, hips dropping and body decelerating. Peripheral vision awareness provides excellent cues for every swimmer.

But always experiment with multiple positions to find out where your body feels most stable and slippery, as well as, where you get sticky and decelerate. For example, spear really deep, easily see hand in peripheral vision for a few strokes; then next few strokes lay recovery flat or scoop toward surface (can't see forearm in peripheral vision); finally find somewhere in between you are most stable, quickest and connected in the water.

Stu
Coach Stuart:

I think I understand what Werner is getting at. In his description of "radial forces", "radial attack" refers to the vector (i.e. the reference direction, to use non-geometrical terminology) of the perceived pressure, i.e. focussing only on the sensation water pressure directed perpendicular to the skin surface of the arm, but also perpendicular to the central axis of the straightened arm as it makes it spear. These perpendicular radial forces may be felt (as a sensation on the skin) on top if the spear is too deep, on the bottom if the spear is too shallow, on the inside of the forearm if the spear is too wide and on the outside (lateral surface of the forearm) if the spear is too narrow.

Your description of radial forces connected with deformation of spinning objects refers to centrifugal ("outwards") direction of force along the radial directional line, and refers to a much higher force range causing deformation. Werner is describing a much smaller degree of magnitude of radial forces, in the opposite radial direction, that is, centripetal ("inwards"), caused by external water pressure (rather than spinning on the axis, which is not happening in this context) and drag, and of such low magnitude that deformation does not occur, at least, only in the microscopic sense, to trigger the pressure receptors deep in the skin, so that we can sense this subtle degree of pressure change.

Basically what Werner is describing is adding the proprioceptive perspective in detecting and thus achieving the precision of the "just right" angle and timing of the perfectly positioned spear in what you have so accurately described in the visual perspective.

In other words, he has added another real time positioning reference tool derived from internal sensation feedback for the searching swimming student in addition to the visual reference that you provide. It is not a replacement but an add-on for, ideally, the same final positioning effect.

Last edited by sclim : 09-03-2017 at 01:34 PM.
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  #40  
Old 09-03-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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For people like me, with limited shoulder flexibility, I think there are two simple tests to help adjust spearing depth.
1) Dry land--look at your standing profile in the mirror with your arm raised above your head and elbow rotated out. Raise your arm to the most vertical level that you can comfortably manage without impacting the alignment of your head and spine.
2) Skating in the water. For me the depth of my spear impacts both my alignment and my horizontal position in the water when skating. In particular, when I rotate to the sweet spot to breath, my low shoulder goes forward and my high shoulder back. All of this must be done without disturbing alignment and head position in the water. Once you figure out how to do this while skating, it should tell you how you want to spear. The wonderful thing about skating is that you can do this process as slowly as you like while rotating to the sweet spot, and this helps you to perfect the motion without disturbing your water profile.

The higher you can spear without impacting alignment, the less water resistance you will have, but at some point spearing too high impacts your alignment. I might add that in my case my ideal spearing depth is different right from left, because of a bad right shoulder.

Last edited by Danny : 09-03-2017 at 04:33 PM.
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