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Old 02-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Another "Organic" Tempo Trainer Set

A very simple Tempo Trainer set I did yesterday may serve to illustrate how one can use it. I'm in Tokyo until Feb 12 and swimming at the 25m pool - Skyfit - that TI runs here. Same pool in which Shinji's viral internet video was shot for those of you who have seen it.

As I approach my 60th birthday I'm focused on pursuing goals outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone since age 15 has been distance freestyle, so now I'm working on trying to do best times in 50-100-200 in the other three strokes as well as free.

I know my weakness in backstroke isn't Stroke Length. It's slow tempo. So I decided to do a series of 25s Backstroke with the TT.

I have no experience swimming 25m backstroke repeats so I didn't know what SPL goal to set. I do know that a very comfortable tempo for me in freestyle is 1.25, which means it would probably be slightly difficult in backstroke. So I swam a 25 back @ 1.25 and counted strokes. As on free I allowed 3 beeps on pushoff. RIght away I found it much harder to pushoff,surface and begin stroking smoothly in 3 beeps. It was very hard to synchronize my first stroke with 4th beep

I had to rush my first stroke a bit to 'catch up to the beep' then it took me a few strokes to settle down. By the time I reached the other end I'd taken 18 strokes.

I just kept swimming repeats # 1.25 until I figured out the pushoff/first-stroke timing. Once I did I stroked more efficiently from Stroke #1 and reached the other end in 17 strokes, instead of 18.

From there I decided to increase tempo by only .01 sec - to 1.24. I swam 4 x 25 at that tempo, testing my ability to keep completing the lap in 17 strokes.

Unlike freestyle, where you can see the wall and time your final stroke to strike the wall, in backstroke you're 'swimming blind' so your last stroke usually hits the water, then there's some glide time until it strikes the wall. I used that glide time as a measure of how efficient the whole lap was. If I was more efficient all the way down the pool, less glide time and I would hit the wall with more momentum. If I was slightly less efficient all the way, more glide time and more momentum lost before I finally touched.

If there was one more beep between the time of my last stroke and when my hand struck the wall, I counted myself not completely satisfied with my efficiency. My goal was to get a good pushoff and smooth transition to first stroke then maintain good efficiency on all 17 strokes so my hand would strike before the 18th beep.

In any case, I swam 4 x 25 at each tempo down to 1.20. That ended up being about 24 x 25. Striking the wall in 17 strokes (or 20 beeps counting the 3 I allow during pushoff) at 1.20 meant I was swimming nearly a full second faster each 25 than I had at the beginning of the set.

I know that seems like an awful lot of thinking and analysis. At this point in my practice that's routine. I'll try to distill what started out with an intention to provide a 'simple' set to a takeaway anyone can use

I started that set without a clear sense of what metrics might apply. I simply swam a 25 backstroke at a trial tempo to learn why stroke count resulted. Once I knew that I had two 'data points' or pieces of information to use as improvement targets - SPL and TT setting.

Improvement would mean any of the following
  • Same tempo and fewer strokes
  • Same SPL but at faster tempo.
  • Or fewer strokes AND faster tempo (a swimmer's definition of heaven)

And the next time I do a backstroke set in a 25m pool, I can start out knowing what goals to aim for.

I'm thinking of trying 50m repeats next, knowing it would be very difficult to match the 17 SPL and 1.20 tempo I managed for 25m.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

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Old 02-08-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Terry,
I'm always excited when I find myself paralleling your practices, in that my last practice was precisely on track with yours, however found myself craving the TT, even before beginning. I too feel one weakness in my backstroke is the ability to gauge stroke rate, or at least the ones I desire at any given time. My gauge at this point is marking spl and time, completing about a two dozen 25s interspersed with 50s, drill swim lengths and a few sets of freestyle to clear the slate (I'll perhaps post my practice at a later point; working a similar routine with the other strokes). I'll be following for any insights/input and will likewise share anything I 'find', including how I practiced.

Thanks

Alan
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  #3  
Old 02-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Alan
"Great minds . . ." you know the rest. ;-)

I'm anxious to read your version - then give it a try.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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