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  #11  
Old 06-03-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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To provide a different perspective and hopefully not ruffle too many feathers, I have found the opposite to be true in my OW swimming.

In pool swimming, I can have a much slower stroke rate - I practice anywhere from .8s to 1.6s these days and have no problem with the range of tempos.

For OW, i have found that my tempo must increase to at least 1.0s or faster depending on the conditions.

It is very rare when I can swim at slower than that tempo - the conditions have to be very calm. Even in what I have thought to be calm conditions, I have tried to relax at 1.3-1.4s and still the unexpected wave can interrupt my body position. If my recovery is delayed by even .1-.2sec over 1.0s, then I almost certainly get upset by waves that sweep across my body. Or depending on the current, I may find myself decelerated quite a bit.

Thus I find that I must have more continuous propulsive force going, meaning that I must keep my recovery period very short generally and have one of my arms stroking back to keep the pressure in both propulsion and my body position amidst an uneven water surface. This inevitably results in a higher tempo which usually is about 1.0s or faster depending on the conditions.

When I stop stroking, I may be moving forward but I have no more active propulsion. Thus I am subject to waves who can move me since I have no propulsive force attempting to maintain direction and body orientation. I have been turned completely over by waves hitting me while recovering; i minimize that by having and caring about more strokes to literally force me through an errant energetic wave that catches me across my body.

thus, when I train for an OW race, I start conditioning myself to faster tempos in the pool, so that I am not winded when I try to maintain faster tempos in the ocean.

As for higher or lower in the water, I am surprised someone said that. But also, you tend to float higher with a wetsuit than without. If you lift your head up to sight, you could tilt your lower body half which slows you down. In sighting, you generally want to pop your head up as low as possible - think like a crocodile whose eyes just pop above the surface - and then put your head down to continue swimming. when the waves are higher, you may need to sight multiple times, or pop your head up higher. In either case, do it quickly, take a look and memorize the view and direction, and then put your head down and keep swimming to not lose momentum.

I am not sure there is a higher or lower due to a wave, or even if that is controllable by the swimmer. That is why I have found that if a wave gets you, that you hopefully have one arm in the water stroking which can power you through that wave, helping you hold body orientation and position as it passes by you and resisting any ability for it to knock you around.

As for the correct tempo or not - as CoachStuartMcDougal has said, there are many factors determining tempo. For me, I have determined my current neural threshold in the pool to be about 1.1-1.12s - the point at which my form starts to break down. But still, that is too slow for OW (I am swimming the Alcatraz Sharkfest in late July) where I have found I must up my tempo or else the waves can get the best of me. So I practice sets of much faster tempo to improve my form at tempos of 1.0s or below now to prep for that race. In addition to neuromuscular adaptation to proper swim movement at faster tempos, fitness, muscular strength, and endurance are all factors when it comes to maintaining any given tempo for the long period of a race.
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2012
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Coach David!

Awesome - you can't ruffle my feathers and appreciate your experience and opinion always. I think we all end up with a tempo that works best for each of us whether open water or not. I choose to slow down my tempo in ow in rough conditions, especaily circling around the north side of Alcatraz where currents and winds all seem to collide in one place, like going through a water cannon swimming directly into 3-4' chop where timing breath is critical. What we have in common in open water is the ability to change gears when necessary given the conditions and environment whether it be faster or slower tempo - and as you know conditions in the SF Bay can change quickly.

If you are doing Sharkfest this year, how 'bout try Swim Around the Rock in July - FUNNNN! And I'll try to hang on your draft so I can speed up my tempo :-)

Happy OW Swimming!

Stuart
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  #13  
Old 06-07-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Coach David!

Awesome - you can't ruffle my feathers and appreciate your experience and opinion always. I think we all end up with a tempo that works best for each of us whether open water or not. I choose to slow down my tempo in ow in rough conditions, especaily circling around the north side of Alcatraz where currents and winds all seem to collide in one place, like going through a water cannon swimming directly into 3-4' chop where timing breath is critical. What we have in common in open water is the ability to change gears when necessary given the conditions and environment whether it be faster or slower tempo - and as you know conditions in the SF Bay can change quickly.

If you are doing Sharkfest this year, how 'bout try Swim Around the Rock in July - FUNNNN! And I'll try to hang on your draft so I can speed up my tempo :-)

Happy OW Swimming!

Stuart
One of these days I'll have to try that swim! Good luck with it. I've got my eye set on a alcatraz PR so focused on that...!
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  #14  
Old 07-13-2012
grandall grandall is offline
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[quote=CoachStuartMcDougal;28465]Great question Alex. Actually you want to glide and stay low.

Coach Stuart what are you reffering to when you say stay low when swimming in rough seas?

At the slower swimming rate(longer glides) do you feel the stronger current(force) effects your swimming effeciency-and do you have to make adjustments to your technique due to these external forces. Or is your technique the same as in pool swimming or calmer waters?
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  #15  
Old 07-13-2012
naj naj is offline
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Just a quick thought on this question of stroke tempo and 2bk vs flutter. Are you all approaching this from a wetsuit perspective or swimming "naked" i.e. without a wetsuit. I swim without one year round and swim 6 days a week in SF Bay. I've been in some of the most glassy waters imaginable and some brutal rough water. I have found that a lower stroke rate and more streamline help more. For one, I have a better sense of when the wave lifts me up to breathe and find that in choppy water bi lateral breathing is more difficult, though I do it regularly even in foul weather and all the while using a 2bk. By I digress...my original question still stands; "Are you talking about swimming in wetsuits? Because swimming without one changes the game plan.

Naji
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  #16  
Old 07-14-2012
boken boken is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
Someone said that you should be higher in the water when the sea is rough.
My 2BK can barely keep me balanced when my head is down, if I intentionally lift the head up then I lose balance.

Is the solution in rough conditions to switch from 2BK to Flutter for additional balance? Or perhaps a more powerful 2BK (instead of a 2BK toe flick)?

Thanks. ALEX
2 cents from somebody who has only swam < 5 miles total in the ocean...

I can't really consciously impact how high or low I am gliding but I can decrease or increase the roll angle to bring my arm further or less out of the water. I tend to rotate less (keep my arm low) when it is rougher just so that the wave has less leverage to roll me over. This also naturally causes a quicker stroke. The main thing is that I do what the waves dictate. Sometimes this means stroking faster or slower even momentarily as the waves swell and dip. I like to also time it so that I breathe near the crest. So however that works out can shift over the course of the swim based on changing wave patterns or changing the orientation of swim direction vs. wave direction.

As for the 6 beat vs. 2 -- personally, I have never been in water so rough I needed to go to a 6 to maintain balance. But since balance is a really important thing, I'd say do what it takes to maintain it even if that means going to the 6 beat. But it may also feedback that you need to work on said balance a bit more when you are able to do so.
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  #17  
Old 07-25-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flychick View Post
Coach Stuart, what do you consider to be an appropriate stroke rate for ocean swimming? I find that in open water I am comfortable with the TT at 1.20, wheras in the pool my comfort zone is between 1.25 and 1.30.
Thanks!
Nicki
This question is interesting, I doubt that you enjoy my answer though....

First, several lakes offer challenging conditions. So I'll take this into account in providing my answer. It's worth noting that most of my experience in OW swimming, I've gathered it acting as a coach in the world class Grand Prix circuit. So I'm used to work with elite swimmers. My experience with your typical recreational swimmer is kind of limited to what I experience as a tri-coach.

Rough conditions (or rough seas) is a term that's too generic in the context you're asking your question. The swimmers generally adapt their stroke according to the type of waves etc... I've seen waves as high as 12-15 feet (especially in Atlantic Ocean). Your stroke doesn't need to vary that much in these conditions as you'll often endup body-surfing on these waves (much more than actually having to struggle against them). As often as not, swimmers tend to increase the glide in these conditions, especially when they can experience the body-surfing effect.

Things often get far more complicated in presence of smaller waves, ie 1-2 feet high, and when these waves are created by a head wind. One may think that it's harder to swim through bigger waves, but in reality, it is often the little one, those that come in the opposite direction from where you're heading that require a stroke rate increase. These waves are typical of big lakes, where the exposure to the wind in great.

To the best of my knowledge, in presence of such waves, the little one that strike you from the front, lowering the rate can not really work.

You also asked about typical SR. In the context of high level swimming, like that you'd see in a Grand Prix event or in a FINA World Cup event, most if not all contenders display rates that are faster than 1 stroke per second. The best swimmer I've seen and coach was a former 1500m pool specialist. His conversion to OW swimming involved boosting his SR up by 5 to 10 SPM roughly. His best time over 1500m Pool was 15:32. He won a Grand Prix event (a very prestigeous one) at 74-78 strokes per minute (sorry, I have the TT-Pro in mode 3, I don't know what's the equivalence in mode 1).

Higest rates displayed by male swimmers would be slightly above 80 per minute. Female often endup above 80. Higest rate displayed by a triathlete would be Scott Neidly I believe, averaging 90-94 spm over 3.8k, enough to descend under 45min over the duration. The best human open water swimmer ever has to be Shelley Taylor-Smith. She once won a Grand Prix event overall. Very few males could beat her in most races. She would rely on a stroke rate that varies between 84 and 90 per minute, holding around 1:20/100m over 40k.

And Oh, I almost forgot. These guys do not fire the 6-beat kick without having a very serious reason to do so. Every spot earns you around $800. So when you're close to an opponent, you may want to fire the 6-beat kick to pass him and hold it to create a gap, which will have a psychological impact and may destroy your opponent's confidence. I've seen extreme cases, in Atlantic City for instance where the Current was such, that no swimmers could swim forward. They were then allowed to be towed by use the coaches. But sometimes they can move forward very slowly due to extreme condition (current, not waves). In these rare cases, they may trigger the 6-beat kick. To the best of my knowledge, no one would dare to do it in order to create a lift effect though, a marathon is way too long to try and swim higher than what your natural balance allows you to.

Obviously, in Triathlon, the best athletes will initiate the event using their 6-beat kick. These guys go almost all out for the 200 first meters to get great positioning.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 07-25-2012 at 05:25 PM.
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  #18  
Old 07-25-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Here's another interesting angle which provides an insight from a recreational but extremely passionate swimmer, very very close to you, at least ideologically, ie Terry Laughlin:

"4) To raise my rate closer to Dave’s and Willie’s. I was hoping for about 65 strokes per minute."

This extract was found on one of his blog:

http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/79/

So as you can see, his reaction to the wild english channel conditions (some of the worst swim conditions on earth) was definitely to aim for a higher stroke rate than what he usually displays in a pool, and that's a normal reaction.

Now 65 strokes per minute for someone that wants to retain water (ie, not loose too much DPS) is an very high rate. Some elites do race at that rate, I know for a fact as the swimmer with whom I've performed the most races were swimming roughly at that rate. In a pool, he'd race a 1500m at 16strokes per 25m (I mean, *race* like in sub 17min performances). In a marathon, given the fatigue, we could speculate that his DPS was equivalent to around 17-18 strokes per 25m. At 64-68 stroke per minutes, that's huge work load (good enough for scoring podiums once in a whilst).

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 07-25-2012 at 06:29 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07-29-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post
Here's another interesting angle which provides an insight from a recreational but extremely passionate swimmer, very very close to you, at least ideologically, ie Terry Laughlin:

"4) To raise my rate closer to Dave’s and Willie’s. I was hoping for about 65 strokes per minute."

This extract was found on one of his blog:

http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/79/

So as you can see, his reaction to the wild english channel conditions (some of the worst swim conditions on earth) was definitely to aim for a higher stroke rate than what he usually displays in a pool, and that's a normal reaction.
I read his reasoning as simply to pick up his overall pace...I imagine that swimming with Willie & Dave would instill a desire not to be the "anchor" of the relay...not as a reaction to the conditions.
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  #20  
Old 07-30-2012
terry terry is offline
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Indeed I did want to keep pace with Dave and Willie, but Charles has it right. I found that a higher stroke frequency was more effective as conditions got rougher or more erratic. Charles has provided an excellent summary of the varying conditions one can encounter in open water and how an experienced, skilled swimmer will react to them.
'Large' and 'rough' are two entirely different conditions. Dave, Willie and I swam Maui Channel on a day with small craft warnings. There were 7' waves crashing on the beach in Maui as we departed for the motor cruise to Lanai and 7-foot swells in the channel. But, on the swim back, once we were 500m from the beach leaving Lanai it was quite smooth going.
Six months earlier in Dover Harbor, we encountered wind chop much smaller, but very erratic and rough. It took me a good deal of experimentation before I found a length and rate that worked well in the conditions.
I've thought a bit about why this is so and have come up with a hypothesis that because your extended body line (mine is nearly 9' from fingers to toes) may be hit by >1 wave at a time, a shorter-frequency stroke allows you to adapt more easily.
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