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  #21  
Old 07-30-2012
terry terry is offline
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I should also note that I seem to have come full circle this summer, swimming more like the high-rate swimmer I was in my youth, not the longer, much lower-rate stroke that brought me success 5-6 years ago.
I did break records with a long, spearing, hip-driven stroke at 55 and 56. But this year I didn't feel I had the fitness to sustain the energy demands of such power over a mile or two of racing. So I worked on attaining a brisk light feel. To my great delight I found that the longer stroke I'd practiced for so many years seems to have combined well with the higher tempo I've been improving and imprinting this summer. I'm not striving to have a long stroke, but have learned to 'hold water' so well that, even at higher rates, I'm still traveling a good distance with each stroke.
And, as the math of speed dictates, I'm swimming surprisingly fast as a result. As I reported in another thread, today I placed 4th out of 70 swimmers in the Point Lookout Ocean Mile. This means, for the 2nd consecutive week, I was in the top 10 percent by both age and speed.
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  #22  
Old 07-30-2012
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CoachDave CoachDave is offline
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Default Water depth and length

So much of this is situational, but I've found that when trying to held focus and pace, it's much easier to do with a good glide and deeper position in rough water. I also am able to feel the roll better for breathing planning, and many of my swimmers do far better when in rough conditions because their competition does not now what to do for breathing since they have to lift their heads to breathe. If you depend on lifting, being a little out of place can mean a rehydrating breath. if you properly use the bow wave, it will still form in rough water and having more head in gives you a better sense of when a wave is about to break on you.

I like to play games in racing to see if my tempo stroke actually gains ground on people compared to a longer-stretch stroke. In my experience, it hasn't been worth it to go anywhere close to a 200 race pace tempo in open water, but my pool tempo for racing the 400/500 works nicely in rough conditions.
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  #23  
Old 07-30-2012
bpusnsailor bpusnsailor is offline
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I have to say i have been exploring this. I finished a 2.4 mi ocean swim temps 54 degrees or so. I had a 1.2 TT pace. I felt great from a reserve standpoint but finished bottom of the pack. After reflecting and reading about this, taking a TI lession for 2 hours, i arrived at what seems to be the majority swim these races at about 1.0s TT pace or faster (including Terry). Most are doing a 4-6 beat kick sprint pace up to 2 plus miles except for Sun Yang of course. Comments on why: elite swimmers can maintian this, keeps body temp up ( i became hypothermic despite the wetsuit), alows one to navigate chop better. Additionally, they breath every stroke to one side modifying for conditions left or right.
Since the ocean race I raced short fresh water course, no wetsuit and incr my SR to somwhere around 1 sec, incr kick to 4 beat alternating with 2 beat , breathed bilat and shaved quite a bit of time off .
I think it might boil down to gears...off the start line 6 beat kick for 200 M for placement, then depending on distance some combo of SR and Kick that can be maintained to the swimmers ability.
The key is to maintain, low head, max glide for SR, patient lead hand, well coordinated sustainable kick combos, good high elbow catch and hope for the best.
I might add the the conditions themselves ie very busy lake chop vs big cold ocean rollers really can set the pace needed vs a contrived pool pace applied across the board for all conditions , hence , more than one gear to use.
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  #24  
Old 07-30-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Safe conclusions that is. Again, it's worth noting that some elite swimmers *do choose* a similar rate, as a once size fits most conditions.
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  #25  
Old 07-31-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I think the important takeaway is that different rates may apply for different reasons and having a variety that you have practiced to choose from is key.

Common reasons i hear for increasing stroke rate in open water are because of "current" which absent the shorter frequency waves is irrelevant...if you are in a current your body is traveling the same speed as the water it is in. Its only the relative speed of yoru body to the land mass or shore that you are navigating against that leads one to think you need a higher stroke rate. But like riding hills in a time trial, learnign your steady pace and allowing speed to reduce a little going uphill or upcurrent, will allow you to maintain energy and focus going downhill or down current.

Great case...this weekend's Pittsburgh triathlon had a high river flow , 18,000 CFS, which is moderate to high on our swimable scale. The olympic race went about 500m upstream, around a bouy then 1000m downstream.

There were few waves but a strong current. I heard many many swimmers talk about how difficult the swim was going upstream...so much so that thye exhausted themselves, went of course because the were working too hard to focus on sighting and never made up the time or energy efforts on the rest of the swim.

By contrast, on the downstream portion, people doing breaststroke were moving nearly as fast as those doing nice freestyle strokes. The swim times were some of the fastest in the history of the tri because 2/3 of the swim leg was downstream in a strong current.

if ou've got the swim experience & fitness to swim over threshold for 6-8 minutes then settle back to your threshold pace that's fine...but for most people trying to increase rate in the upstream portion, all they did was ruin their swim.

OK, that's a little soapbox of mine...current goes both ways but your body is travlign at the same speed as the current if you dn't stroke...so do your normal stroke and youll make progress unless the speed of the current is faster than you can swim...in which case you shouldn't be out there anyway.

The second part of this is what terry and others have mentioned...the small frequency waves that tend to bounce you around. increasing rate so taht you always have more control over your body than teh water does is good to kep in mind. In white water kayaking, you basically always have to have a paddle in the water moving EITEHR faster or slower than the current. Use your paddle to change speed so that you can CHOOSE where to go. As soon as you stop paddling, or stop applying pressure in some direction, you have no more control than a log in the water.

This applies to swimmign in situations where the waves are frequent & small and creating a lot of subsurface disturbance, which simply isn't that often for MOST people / triathletes swimming in open water. Lake swimming simply doesn't have the same types of currents & chop and fetch to create the chaotic conditions one might encounter in SF bay or the English channel. High rate for the sake of simply Open water swimming may simply be a waste of energy.


last thing dave alluded to...higher clearance, trynig to swim "over" surface chop, etc can be a huge waste of energy. Get smaller, more streamlined, pierce through the waves, relaxed arm recovery so that encountering a wave will 'waggle' the arm rather than distrupt your body.

Kind of a rambling response, sorry!
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  #26  
Old 07-31-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Your post was fun to read.

Obviously, without any meaningful data to chew on, it's hard to discuss these matters.

I think that what can easily be stated without fear of being wrong is that it's safer to keep the momentum going open water, regardless of the conditions. You never know when the dead spot can play against you.

That doesn't mean increasing the rate to a point where you're ruining your swim, or ending up well over your own game plan. It just means what it means.... ie keep the momentum going in order to avoid having to decelerate/accelerate at every stroke. In the case of our best swimmer to have raced the pro circuit, we ***had*** to boost up his stroke rate for performing better OW compared to in the Pool. I mentioned this example earlier I think. 1500 personal best = 15:32. So not a bad swimmer. First attempt at Lac St-Jean wasn't very good. I was with him, I think we finished mid pack. Stroke was too long based on our head coach's opinion. He worked for 1 year in boosting it. He then won the event the year after, thus becoming the last Canadian to win it. It was in 1995. Conditions sucked that year, I was with a female and we dnf.

http://www.traversee.qc.ca/index.php?id=38&lang=eng

For what it's worth, here up north we definitely have terrible lakes, ie some that can generate waves in excess of 6 feet high. Lac St-Jean (to reuse this example), which is much smaller than the great lakes, is still 30k per 50k. When the wind kicks in, trust me, you feel it.

Here, you may picture yourself swimming against these rollers (see clip below). It's just an example of some Lake conditions that requires optimal constant pace. Any dead spot will kill you.

In fact, one year, I think it was in '94, two americans show up the weekend of the event, without having been invited. The organizers obviously inform them that it's a Grand Prix event, ie a professional event and that recreational swimmers were certainly not allowed. The father and his son decided to try it on their own. They both die that day. Conditions were horrible and they just drawn somewhere in the middle of the lake.

I think I remember Claudio Plitt having said more than once that between the Channel and the LSJ, he would fear the later much more than the former. He use to race our lake back to the days that the event was 64k in length, they'd start near 4pm, cross the lake (32k) overnight, then swim around a buoy to come back for around 18-20hours of swimming. Off a crowd of 20 pro swimmers, you'd rarely see more than 4 swimmers actually making it to the finish line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wirpFmEvNdU

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 07-31-2012 at 07:31 PM.
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  #27  
Old 07-31-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post
Your post was fun to read.

Obviously, without any meaningful data to chew on, it's hard to discuss these matters.

I think that what can easily be stated without fear of being wrong is that it's safer to keep the momentum going open water, regardless of the conditions. You never know when the dead spot can play against you.

That doesn't mean increasing the rate to a point where you're ruining your swim, or ending up well over your own game plan. It just means what it means.... ie keep the momentum going in order to avoid having to decelerate/accelerate at every stroke.

For what it's worth, here up north we definitely have terrible lakes, ie some that can generate waves in excess of 6 feet high. Lac St-Jean for instance, which is much smaller than the great lakes, is still 50k per 50k. When the wind kicks in, trust me, you feel it.

Here, you may picture yourself swimming against these rollers. It's just an example of some Lake conditions that requires optimal constant pace. Any dead spot will kill you.

In fact, one year, I think it was in '94, two americans show up the weekend of the event, without having been invited. The organizers obviously inform them that it's a Grand Prix event, ie a professional event and that recreational swimmers were certainly not allowed. The father and his son decided to try it on their own. They both die that day. Conditions were horrible and they just drawn somewhere in the middle of the lake.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wirpFmEvNdU
The great lakes, and it sounds like Lac St-Jean are big enough to have their own weather patterns. Most aren't swimming there. Locally, lakes like Keystone Lake, Racoon Creek STate Park, Lake Morraine...all state parks in Southwestern PA are maybe 1-2 k in length...not big enough to create those kind of waves.

Dead spots and avoiding deceleration-acceleration are never optimal in any condition...it's a waste of energy.

yes certainly fun to discuss. Thanks for the video!! And yes, like the great lakes can be, Lac St. Jean acts like an ocean!
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