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Old 06-26-2013
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 14
Terry Laughlin
Default Terry's 50m Pool Practices Summer 2013

I haven't posted a pool practice since March, because I discovered three months ago that my health problems of the last six years -- chronic systemic inflammation and fatigue -- were being caused by swimming in a fog of chloramines in the poorly ventilated SUNY New Paltz pool. Since then I'd only swum a total of about an hour a week in my Endless Pool during April, then began swimming for a similar amount of time in Lake Awosting from May 2 to June 15. Since then I've increased to 3 to 4 hrs a week in Lake Minnewaska. I'll post my practices from there on the Open Water forum.

Last night I swam for the first time this summer in the 50m Ulster County Pool and will swim there about 2x/week through Sept 2 when its too-brief season ends.

These practices will all be examples of how to pursue incrementally improving neural and metabolic adaptation to tasks built around artful combinations of SPL, Tempo and Distance/Duration.

June 25 2000 LCM (Long Course Meters)
I had only 45 min before attending a board meeting of an organization where I volunteer, but that's always sufficient time to plan an interesting and exacting task. Yesterday's task was to discover my current Tempo Threshold for maintaining an SPL of 40 or under.
Tuneup 400 @ 39spl
Each time I swim I have to ask the lifeguards to put in a 50m lane line, which they will do if the pool isn't crowded. This is most likely at the dinner hour. While they did so I decided to reacquaint myself with SPL in this pool, where I'd not swum since last summer. Because of some kind of current it tends to be 1-2 strokes higher in one direction than the other. So I count by 100m rather than 50. Discovering SPL during tuneup gives me a framework for setting that metric during my Main Task.

For about 10 years I've tried to keep 80 to 90% of my LCM practice at or under 40SPL. I'll go as high as 43SPL at Tempo faster than 1.0, but spend most of each summer trying to move my Tempo Threshold for 40 strokes to slightly faster stroke rates.

In addition, I think I'll devote my pool practice this summer mainly to raising my 'Effortless Endurance' pace, guided by advice from TI Coach Grant Molyneux's book Effortless Exercise. On land you can find that pace by breathing through your nose--not crossing the effort threshold that causes you to need to gulp air through your mouth. In the water, that's not feasible, but I believe an equivalent will be to discover via experimentation what Tempos, paces and distances I can swim maintaining a breathing pattern of every three strokes. In my 30s and early 40s I could work fairly hard and do that, but not in my 60s, so that will serve as a good regulator of effort--and be good for stroke symmetry.

Main Task
10 x 100 Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid
--slowing by .1 sec increments and getting faster by .05 increments.
My 100m stroke count was 87 @ 1.05, had decreased to 73 at 1.35, and I finished at 86 strokes when I returned to 1.05.
I was able to breathe every 3 and felt relatively effortless at a tempo around 1.2. My 50m SPL was at or under 40 at this tempo too. So I know my initial Tempo Comfort Zone in a 50m pool is in this range.

4 x 100 Slowing Tempo
I started at 1.05, but this time slowing Tempo by .06 each 100. My 100m stroke counts were
1.05 86
1.11 83
1.17 80
1.22 77
With 50m SPL under 40 I finished practice with an open-ended swim to see how long I could keep SPL under 40. I made 250m continuous with SPL below 40. When SPL went to 41 on the 6th lap, I decided to end the practice there.

This practice has given me good starting parameters for planning tasks in subsequent 50m practices
SPL 40 or fewer
Tempo 1.20 to 1.22
Distance 250 m

Based on the parameters revealed by today's practice, I can now set an Improvement Project for this summer.
Over the next 9 to 10 weeks -- about 21 50m practices -- I will strive to steadily expand the Tempo and Distance I can swim while maintaining a 50m SPL of 40 or lower and remaining comfortable breathing every 3 strokes. For a concrete goal, I'll strive to swim 1500m continuously in those parameters, which projects to an Effortless 1500m pace just over 26 minutes.

Last edited by Terry Laughlin : 06-26-2013 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 07-03-2013
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 14
Terry Laughlin
Default Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid on 100m Long Course repeats

Sat July 29 1600LCM at Ulster County Pool

This was a very light session for me as I spent a good deal of time explaining the metrics from several TT sets to my friend Susan Helmrich from Berkeley CA, a top distance swimmer in the USMS 55-59 age group. Also because it was less than 24 hrs before I would swim Grimaldo's Mile at Coney Island. (More on that below.)

3 x [3x50] + 1x150 with Focal Points and TT

TT was set at 1.20 for entire set.
In each round of 3x50 we did:
#1 Synchronize beep to hand entry -- I focused on being highly conscious of a light touch on fingertips cutting thru the surface then seeking traction.
#2 Synchronize beep to hip nudge -- I focused on feeling that hips moved diagonally forward--matching the trajectory of entering hand (This is possible because even as hips rotate, pelvis can lift slightly upward--which is forward while in swimming position.)
#3 Synchronize beep to toe-flick -- I focused on light, compact and feeling same quality of pressure/leverage as I feel on hand and arm at beginning of stroke.
I counted strokes and reduced 50m count by 3-4SPL on each Focal Point. I explained to Susan this reflected how quickly my brain could adapt to the Mini-Skill highlighted by each Focal Point.
And with Tempo at 1.2 a savings of 3-4 strokes also represented an improvement in Time of up to 5 seconds for 50m -- I.E. an improvement of 2m30sec for 1500M pace!

Main Task
Swim 10 x 100 Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid

1-4 @ 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5
5-10 @ 1.45, 1.4, 1.35, 1.3, 1.25, 1.2
My 100m stroke count was 81 at the start, 69 @ 1.5 and 77 on #10, at same 1.2 Tempo we started with. Susan made similar progress, taking an average of 2 more strokes per 100 because of shorter pushoffs (I'm about 8" taller.)
So we each improved 100m pace by 5 sec during this set, by improving Stroke Length as Tempo slowed, then minimizing loss of SL as Tempo got faster again.

Not as impressive an improvement as 5 sec per 50 on the Tuneup, but as we began the Main Task, we were already pretty well tuned neurally.
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Old 07-03-2013
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CoachMandyMcDougal CoachMandyMcDougal is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Currently living in San Fransisco!
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Thank you Terry for sharing. I will have to implement this practice with my TRI-Swim group tonight.

Hope all is well,

" Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."

- Anthony J. D'Angelo
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Old 07-05-2013
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 14
Terry Laughlin

How did your tri-swim group do with it Mandy?
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Old 07-06-2013
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 14
Terry Laughlin
Default Summer 2013 Improvement Project - Getting Started

Sat July 6 3200LCM at Ulster County Pool
On June 25, following my first 50m pool practice of the summer I posted that my chosen Improvement Project for this summer would be to steadily expand the Tempo and Distance I can swim while maintaining a 50m SPL of 40 and remain comfortable breathing every 3 strokes. Originally I said I'd strive to swim 1500m at the strongest pace I could manage with those parameters, but I think instead I'll aim to swim 3200m, as that's the distance of my 'main event' for the summer--the Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim in Lake Placid Aug 17.

Until today I hadn't done much that was focused on that Improvement Project because I was swimming with my friend Susan Helmrich and showing her how to use the Tempo Trainer to improve her efficiency.

I went to the pool today with the idea of swimming an open ended series of 400m repeats, to assess what pace I could attain while maintaining a tempo of 1.20 or faster, an SPL of 40, and a 3-stroke breathing pattern. My initial plan was to set the TT at 1.20 and keep repeat 400s as long as I kept descending my times -- I.E. reduce my total stroke count since Tempo was fixed.

But my plan went awry after I miscounted on the 4th 400 and did 500 instead. So I rolled with the punches and immediately modified the set as follows.
[3x400]+[2x500] @ constant 1.2 Tempo
400+300+200+100 @ Increasing Tempo -- 1.18, 1.16, 1.14, 1.12

The first part of the set would test my ability to maintain Stroke Length as Tempo remained constant while Distance increased.
The second part of the set would test my ability to do the converse--maintain SL as Distance decreased and Tempo got faster.

Virtually every set I do is designed to test my ability to 'protect' SL while imposing some difficulty -- more Distance, less Rest or faster Tempo. And sometimes more than one.

How did I swim?
On the 3x400 @ 1.20 my times improved from 7:17 to 7:07 to 7:04. My average 50m SPL decreased from 42 to 40 during them.
I maintained the 40SPL on the 2x500 on which my times were 8:48 and 8:46.

Then on the 400@1.18, 300@1.16, 200@1.14 and 100@1.12, I once again maintained 40SPL. My times on these were:

400 6:59 Pace/50: :52.3
300 5:38 Pace/50 :51.5
200 3:24 Pace /50 :51.0
100 1:35 Pace/50 :47.5

I've learned I can maintain 40SPL at 1.2 Tempo up to 500m.
To improve on this I can test myself with set of repeats up to say 800m, and perhaps nudge Tempo down a hundredth or three.

I've also learned I can maintain 40SPL at Tempo as fast as 1.12 by dropping to 100m repeats.
To improve this I can try some longer repeats at Tempos between 1.12 and perhaps 1.15. Or 100m repeats at Tempos of 1.10 or faster.

Stay tuned to see how I use those parameters to plan practices.

Last edited by Terry Laughlin : 07-06-2013 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 07-08-2013
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 14
Terry Laughlin
Default "Pull" Tuneup with SPL+Time as Metrics

Mon July 8 2700LCM @ Ulster County Pool

I felt I should do a restorative practice today, because yesterday I did a very long uphill trail ride to Lake Minnewaska in hot, humid weather. My ride was 2h40m to the lake, then a cooling 1000y, and a downhill ride home in 1h20m. I felt somewhat drained the rest of the day.

Though my physical needs call for a restorative practice, I still want to advance the goals of my Improvement Project -- sustainable pace @ 40SPL by adapting to incrementally faster tempos.

How to balance those two goals? A long Pull-oriented Tuneup and short repeats. Here's what I did:
Tuneup [6x100]+[4x150]+[3x200] All @ 37SPL.
In a Pull Tuneup I start at a very relaxed and gentle pace, and gradually-but-steadily swim at faster paces, without overtly trying. I literally feel pulled to faster paces, as opposed to pushing for them.
On the 100s, my first was 1:57; my 6th was 1:49
On the 150s, my first was 2:41; my 4th was 2:38
On the 200s, my first was 3:38 my 3rd was 3:35
My SPL remained constant @ 37/50m.

My Tempo (calculated from Time and SPL) increased from 1.48 on the first 100 to 1.35 on the 3rd 200.
Any set in which two metrics improve (More Distance and Faster Tempo) while a 3rd remains constant (SL or SPL) is a great outcome.

The Tuneup ended up being my Main Task for the day. I finished up with a Secondary Task

3 rounds of [3x100]
1st round at 38 SPL - Descend 1:41-1:39
2nd round at 39 SPL - Descend 1:40-1:37
3rd round at 40 SPL - Descend 1:39-1:36
These involved a moderate amount of Push effort.
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Old 07-14-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default Best Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid Ever

Friday July 12 at Parkwood 50m Pool, Great Neck NY

I swam with my friend Steve Shtab. We had a bit over an hour to swim after he finished coaching his Masters group. But I spent most of that time working with Steve on improving his Lateral Stability by making adjustments to his recovery, then helping him use his improved stability to tune his 2BK.

We had only 20 minutes so I suggested an Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid of 10 x 100, starting at and returning to a tempo of 1.1. Steve had never done this before.
On the 1st 100 @ 1.1 I took 88 strokes (43+45) just trying to stroke gently to avoid disturbing the water.

We slowed Tempo by .1 for the first 4x100. On #4 @ 1.4, I had reduced my stroke total to 68 (33+35). This is a bit better than I usually do increasing efficiency while slowing Tempo by .3. Subtracting 15 to 18 strokes would be more typical.

Then we increased Tempo by .05 each of the last 6x100. On #10 @ 1.1 I took only 78 strokes. I.E. I subtracted 10 strokes -- and 11 seconds -- from my total at 1.1 over the course of the set.

What is the largest stroke count reduction anyone else has had on an Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid of 100m LC repeats?

It's great fun to know I can still set a personal best at 62. It also demonstrates Kaizen is verifiable.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 07-22-2013 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-15-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default Main Task: 3 rounds of 3 x 300 at Increasing SPL

Monday July 15 3500 LCM at Ulster County Pool

Tuneup 800m @ 37SPL
I was a bit discombobulated this morning. I had planned to do a Tempo+SPL Main Task today, but when I got to the pool I discovered I'd brought the wrong swim bag--one I packed yesterday with spare tube and bike pump for a rail trail ride. Fortunately I was already wearing my suit and had stuck a pair of goggles in the bag so all wasn't lost--only the opportunity to do a Tempo set.
It took a while for the lifeguards to put in a lane marker and my progress kept getting interrupted by water walkers, kids playing etc. so I just kept swimming easily until they had the lane reel in place and pulling the 50m lane marker the length of the pool became the 'warmup' part of my tuneup.

Main Task 3 rounds of [3x300 @ 38-39-40 SPL]. Increase Pace each round.
Round 1 Descend 5:19 to 5:10
Round 2 Descend 5:15 to 5:08
Round 3 Descend 5:10 to 5:01

I made up this set on the spur of the moment, but was very pleased. Success at this task required these skills
1) Calibration of SL. It's not easy to maintain a consistent stroke count over 50m. In each round I averaged 38SPL on #1, 39SPL on #2 and 40SPL on #3. I missed my intended count very infrequently, seldom more than once in any 300.
2) Increase Stroke Firmness in each round. I intended to descend within each round -- fairly easy to do when you increase SPL within the round. I also intended to swim each successive round faster, while maintaining same range of counts from one round to the next - a somewhat exacting skill, but one I'm much practiced at.

What was Tempo? My Tempo at 40SPL (calculated by dividing time by # of strokes while allowing 4 beeps per wall) was 1.19 at a Pace of 5:10 in the 1st round and increased to 1.15 at a Pace of 5:01 in the 3rd round.

This is useful data for me. When I did my Assessment Set three weeks ago I found my threshold metrics--those I could do comfortably and sustainably--while breathing every 3 strokes--were 40 SPL at a Tempo of 1.2 to 1.22. I'm encouraged that my Tempo on this whole set of longish repeats was at a faster Tempo than my threshold of a month ago.

I'm going to keep my 'ceiling' SPL at 40, so improvement could come via:
1) Maintaining this Pace and Tempo on longer reps -- say 500m
2) Maintaining this Pace and Tempo on less rest.
3) Improving Tempo at 40 SPL to 1.1.
I'll plan sets testing my ability to do all three in the next week or two.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 07-15-2013 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 07-21-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default Tempo Pyramids & Why I prefer swimming solo

Sun July 21 3000LCM @ Ulster County Pool

Tuneup 500M Whole Stroke Easing into Pace
I swam as relaxed as possible, just to find out where my SPL would settle. It was 37 on a few lengths, but mostly 38.

Main Task: 2 Rounds of Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid
Round #1 Starting Tempo 1.15.
I slowed Tempo by .08 for 4x100 then increased it by .04 for 6x100.
SPL was 81 @1.15, dropped to 69 @1.39, then was 78 @ 1.15. Reducing stroke count by 3 equated to improving 100m pace by 3.45 sec
I added several more 100s to see how far I could increase Tempo without exceeding 80 strokes -- or 40SPL which is my chosen ceiling this summer. I reached 80 strokes at 1.10.

Round #2 Starting Tempo 1.10
On this round, I changed Tempo by half as much each 100--I.E. slowing Tempo by .04 for 4x100, then increasing by .02 for the rest.
SPL was 80 @ 1.10, 76 @ 1.22 and 79 when I returned to 1.10. So I added another 100 @ 1.09 before reaching 80.

Total Pace Improvement for the 2 rounds
81 strokes @ 1.15 = 1:41.2 (adding 7 'non-stroking' beeps)
80 strokes @ 1.09 = 1:34.8
1500m pace improvement = 1m36sec
3200m (Distance of Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim) pace improvement = 3m36sec.
A critical distinction is that I improved pace significantly in these sets without ever trying to swim faster. Instead I focused on keeping stroke long, relaxed and unhurried--and on not moving water molecules--as Tempo increased.

As I was finishing a friend asked why I wasn't attending the Masters workouts on weekday evenings at the 25m Town Pool. I replied that I preferred to take advantage of the rare opportunity to swim Long Course.

But I actually have a much stronger reason.
Most people who swim with coached groups, such as Masters teams, express two reasons for doing so:
1) They prefer to have someone else do the 'heavy llfting' of workout-planning.
2) They feel they need other swimmers to push them.

I prefer to swim solo because
1) Coaches need to plan for the needs and desires of the group. I have a complex constellation of reasons that determine what I do in any given practice. The factors that determined what I did this morning included:
- I'd done a set at moderately high exertion in the lake yesterday and wanted to make today's pool practice more relaxed and restorative.
- After a week of temps in the 90s, the water was quite hot, suggesting relatively short repeats with ample cooling off time between.
- This summer I have a specific plan for using my lake and pool practices in distinctly different, but complementary ways. In the lake I emphasize brisk Tempos. In the pool I emphasize long strokes.
Given all that I have no choice but to plan my own practices

2) I don't need or want other swimmers to 'push' me in practice. My practice goals are quite specific, determined by the project I'm working on and the sets I do on any given day are determined--in addition to factors I noted above--by the SPL, Tempo and Distance I was able to swim in previous practices. I achieve improvements in my chosen metrics by undistracted focus, not be being pushed indiscriminately. An obvious exception is what my friend Louise added to my enjoyment of yesterday's lake practice--the chance to synchronize strokes with her as we swam at the same series of Tempos, with equal Stroke Length.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 07-21-2013 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 07-27-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default A Month of Kaizen in the 50m Pool June 25-July 27

Sat July 27 3400LCM at Ulster County Pool

I did something most interesting today. I swam three series of 100M repeats, all in similar SPL. I did it first without Tempo Trainer--I.E. Just SPL+Time. Then I repeated it with Tempo Trainer. Then a third time without Tempo Trainer again.
I think it's sound practice strategy to do similar sets with and without the TT. Swimming with the TT helps program your nervous system for the specific Stroke Rate and Length you're working to adapt to. Doing a very similar set without TT tests your ability to swim that way entirely by feel.

Tuneup Set SPL+Time
8 x 100 @ 75 strokes.
Continue until Time/Pace stops improving.
This is one of my typical open-ended Tuneup sets, in which I set myself a task and continue swimming repeats until I wring out all the improvement potential (or 'slack') in my performance of that task.
I began at 1:53 for 100m and finished at 1:43, when I felt I could not improve my time further without adding strokes or transitioning from a 'Pull" emphasis (letting speed emerge) to a 'Push' emphasis (chasing speed.)
What was my Tempo range on this set?
At 1:53 and 75 strokes, Tempo would be 1.44.
At 1:43 and 75 strokes, Tempo would be 1.28.

Main Task #1 Tempo+SPL
10 x 100 Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid 1.05-->1.23-->1.05

I started today's Pyramid at 1.05 to raise the bar a bit from last weekend when I started one Pyramid at 1.15 and a second at 1.10.
I slowed Tempo by .08 on #'s 1-4 and increased it by .04 on #s5-10.
My SPL was 84 @ 1.05 at the start, 76 @ 1.23 and 81 @ 1.05 at the finish.
What were my Times?
Accounting for 7 non-stroking beeps on each 100, my times were
1:35.5 @ 1.05 and 84 strokes
1:42.0 @ 1.23 and 76 strokes
1:32.4 @ 1.05 and 81 strokes.

Main Task #2 SPL+Time
3 rounds of [4x100 Descend + 1x100 EZ]

My starting goal was to add 1-2 strokes per 100 and see how much my Time/Pace would improve by adding strokes.
I started each round at a 100m stroke count of 75 (Same as Tuneup set) and finished at a stroke count of 80-81 (Same as final count in Pyramid set.)
I also tried to swim each successive round at faster paces (for each 100) by increasing sense of integration in my 2BK and firmness in my stroke pressure.
Final Round SPL and Times (Tempo in parentheses)
75 strokes - 1:37 (1.20)
77 strokes - 1:35 (1.14)
79 strokes - 1:33 (1.09)
80 strokes - 1:31 (1.05)

When looking at all three metrics - Time, Tempo and SPL - this was a thoroughly Kaizen practice. I made small but continuous improvements in Tempo and Time at a constant range of SPL from beginning to end.
From first set to last, my Tempo at 75 strokes progressed from 1.28 to 1.23 to 1.20.
From 2nd to 3rd set my stroke count at 1.05 Tempo improved from 84 to 81 to 80.

And all of those metrics have improved incrementally in each practice I've done from the previous practice. Cumulatively the improvement in metrics has been very significant over the month I've been swimming in the 50m pool--though it's been only five practices in that month.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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