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  #1  
Old 08-22-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Test Efficiency and Mastery with these sets

Since early July I've posted many of my practices (mostly in a 50m pool, a few in Lake Minnewaska) in this thread. I've noted that one of my favorite tuneup sets is also a great test of one's ability to increase speed with efficiency. There are two versions of this set.
Version 1: Maintain Stroke Count (i.e. Stroke Length) unchanged while descending your time (i.e. improving your pace).
Version 2: Maintain Tempo (i.e. Stroke Rate) unchanged while descending your time.
You can do this set for any repeat distance, but it will be easier to keep track if you swim repeats of 50 or 100 yds or meters.

In doing both versions I found that I could make far more significant improvements in time while maintaining SPL than while maintaining Tempo. Here are examples taken directly from the practices I logged on the other thread.
Version 1
August 4
8 x 100 Descend, controlling stroke count.
I stayed consistent at 75 strokes. I was more relaxed, yet a bit faster, than on a similar set I did last week at 77 strokes. That time I descended from 1:59 to 1:42. Today, taking two fewer strokes, I descended from 1:53 to 1:38. I'm very pleased with being able to swim 15 seconds faster for 100m without adding any strokes.

Version 2
August 21
6 x 100 @ 1.10 tempo. Try to reduce SPL progressively.
I started at 85 strokes for 100m and finished at 80.
I felt exceptionally pleased to be able to subtract 5 strokes on this set. Yet that improved my 100m pace by only 5.5 seconds -- about 30 percent of the change I was able to effect two weeks earlier when I maintained SPL.

These two sets are really a mirror image of each other.
In Version 1, the task is to increase Stroke Rate, while keeping Stroke Length unchanged. (Note:When I did the set on Aug 4 I wasn't trying to increase SR. I simply tried to 'find' more speed as artfully--not physically--as possible and the increase in SR just 'happened.')

In Version 2 the task is to increase Stroke Length while keeping Stroke Rate constant. (Note: In this instance I was overtly and specifically trying to increase Stroke Length. Without highly conscious effort, it simply doesn't happen.


What does this mean?
1) Stroke Rate is far more 'plastic' than Stroke Length. Which is more of a useful moment of clarity than a startling insight.
2) That you can easily increase Stroke Rate without trying. In fact, doing so accidentally, heedlessly and ineffectively is an almost universal 'conditon' of human swimmers when they try to go faster. But you can only increase Stroke Length with a conscious, and usually quite demanding effort.

I invite you to try both: How much can you descend without adding strokes?
Another day, repeat the same series, but keeping Tempo constant instead. How much can you descend now? Please share your results with us, and if you improve on further attempts let us know about it.

I also suggest you Version 2 at different tempos. I did it today at 1.10. I'll try again at 1.15, 1.20 and perhaps 1.25 and see whether a slower tempo allows a larger improvement in time.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Ok, test day!

Friday August 26 (30)yard outdoor pool @ Creek
Hold avg. spl and descend times while repeat distance remains constant

The set:
200(240) Tune-up
10x100(120) @ 78sp 100(120)yards
1. 2:01
2. 1:56
3. 1:53
4. 1:51
5. 1:51
6. 1:51
7. 1:48**
8. 1:49*
9. 1:50
10. 1:49

On repeat #5 I failed to descend and sensed I tried a bit too much, so on #6 I backed off physically and focused on being more relaxed. When I came in on the same time I knew I'd have to come up with some way to improve. I didn't want to be stuck at this mark or, not only hit the same time again but, maybe slip back even more.
So on the last length of repeat #7 I jump started myself and let two extra strokes creep in. Although this would skew the test I felt if I could break the 'barrier' I was feeling that I would then be able to calibrate my "DiSCO".
Well, I did take two strokes more than desired but came in on 1:48, three seconds faster. OK, so now I needed to subtract strokes as I proceeded and did manage one less on the next repeat, bringing me in on 1:49.
On repeat#9 I was back to 78 strokes and came in on 1:50, I broke the 1:51!
On the last repeat I had a 'legit' 1:49 @ 78 strokes, and although this repeat felt far easier than #5 I felt, for today, it was best to stop while I was ahead. It can be very addicting this practice and easy to get carried away.
So before the skew I had a 10 second improvement in time, 13 overall.
Next up the "TempoTest".

P.S. Followed this up with a "Twilight" 2.5 mile swim in the Sound, my first since Aug. 6th! Some much needed OW practice in order.
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Old 09-06-2011
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Test Day Part Two:

Monday Sept.5 (30) yard outdoor pool @ Creek
As tempo and distance remain constant, try and reduce spl and descend times.
The set:
200 (240) tune-up
8x100 (120) @ 78/77 avg.sp 100 (120) descending
Tempo Trainer setting 1.10
1. 1:53
2. 1:53
3. 1:52
4. 1:52
5. 1:51
6. 1:49
7. 1:49
8. 1:50
It took me until the third repeat to start to feel how I'd need to swim in order to descend, by extending even more, comfortably, and maintaining a grip on water. It's here that time begins to "slow", with focus, allowing for the enhanced (even just slightly) swimming.
I was pleased to catch a glimpse of 1:50 on repeat #5 and knew I was headed in the right direction.
On #6 I added a bit of emphasis on hip drive to 'strengthen' my rotation on recovery to entry, giving me a bit of "oomph" on extension. It felt like a cadence; 1-2, 1-2 or ta-TA ta-TA on hand entries (the TA being the spearing on the breathing side). The TempoTrainer kept this from being a 'loping' stroke, enabling me to keep equal time on entries, but funny that it kind of felt like one.
Repeats #s 6-8 were the easiest and where I was able to subtract 1-2 strokes; usually on the first or third length I noted. Actually, where I took off one on #6 I may have added one on #7 but subtracted two on #8.
So my time savings was a mere 4 seconds overall but the swim became easier and I managed to shave strokes. I sense I'd have to practice this quite a bit to make the stroke savings and cadence sustainable over longer distances.
Part of the fun I guess : ) I could use a nice 3 mile ow swim right about now : ))
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Old 09-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWP View Post
I added a bit of emphasis on hip drive to 'strengthen' my rotation on recovery to entry, giving me a bit of "oomph" on extension. It felt like a cadence; 1-2, 1-2 or ta-TA ta-TA on hand entries (the TA being the spearing on the breathing side). : ))
I'm about to post a report on (post #41) a set of 8 x 400LCM that I did yesterday at the Coronado (CA) Municipal Pool. I descended this set by adding one length done precisely as you describe to each 400.
I.E.
#1 350 Cruise, 50 Strong
#2 300 Cruise, 100 Strong
#7 50 Cruise, 350 Strong

"Strong" was precisely as you describe above.
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Terry Laughlin
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 09-08-2011 at 11:41 PM.
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  #5  
Old 09-09-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Terry
I'm glad to hear that this stategy is appropriate and now know that it works.
I'll be applying this on longer repeats as well and use your example to gauge my progress, thanks.
I thought you were in CA nice that you have a chance to return. Much success in the 5k and with your swimming overall.
Had a fun and challenging swim in the Sound yesterday, 2.5 in a wild but 'skunky' 2' chop that had us swim against the rising tide as well, woohoo!
Incidently I did recall and applyied that 'oomph' in that swim as well : )
Had to!
Having a training partner finally helps loads and I'm feeling more and more OW competency with every go. Only wish I'd been at this point on Aug. 6, but I look forward.

Cheers,
Alan

Last edited by AWP : 09-11-2011 at 01:16 AM.
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