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  #1  
Old 11-25-2009
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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Default Stroke Rate (SR) vs Breathing Rate: any relation?

I recall reading in the FME book that doubling the STROKE Rate leads to 8 times more energy consumption.
Stroking slowly would then be a good way to save energy, but if you swim too slowly (say at a SR=2sec), then your time between breadths is also long.

EXAMPLE: While resting I breathe in every 6 seconds
Now if I swim bilateral Free-style at a SR=2sec... then it means that I breathe every 6sec. Being my rest time breathing rate, I obviously run out of oxygen because I am making an effort.

Is there a way to figure out an optimum STROKE RATE which does not consume too much energy but at the same time allows frequent enough intake of oxygen?

May be SR=1.5 could fix my breathing problems but SR=1 would lead to too much energy (and oxygen consumption) ???

Do you think there is an ideal SR range (Min,Max)?

Last edited by Alex-SG : 12-02-2009 at 01:36 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-26-2009
eddiewouldgo eddiewouldgo is offline
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Sure there's an optimum stroke rate -- a continuum of them, really.

Three of the variables can control are basically your stroke rate, stroke length, and breathing rate (its a function of your stroke rate, but you choose whether to breath every two, every three, etc.). Each one of them affects each of the other two. The fourth variable, drag (in the sense of water's resistance to your forward momentum) you can also control, to a point, and it affects each of the others as well. Swimming is largely about balancing these four factors to find the best combination for you, for a given swim with a given goal or purpose. You always want to minimize drag, and you minimize it with balance and streamlining. The other three factors are a little trickier -- your best stroke may be had by increasing or decreasing them, depending on the situation. Example: if you want to sprint 50 m as fast as possible, your breathing rate should be very, very low, maybe 2-3 breaths for entire distance -- but if your goal is to swim 1500m and come out of the water with a low heart rate, your breathing rate should be very high -- like every two armstrokes. Your optimum stroke rate for the 50 sprint may be twice as fast as your best rate for the 1500 -- you'll have much more local muscle fatigue at the end of the 50, but that's fine -- its over, and the purpose was to move as fast as possible. Leaden arms in the last half of a 1500 would be inefficient and possibly disastrous. And so forth. The first question is: "Optimum stroke rate for what?"

The optimum rate varies by swimmer, distance, breathing pattern, and overall speed desired (SRxSL). To get an idea of yours, swim repeats of some set distance (like 50 or 100), using a Tempo Trainer, and starting at your normal, relaxed rate and using your preferred breathing pattern. Time it. Take stock of your fatigue in some consistent way (you can use respiratory rate for 10 seconds, heart rate at the end of the rep, or measure how long it takes for your end-of-rep heart rate to return to baseline). Recover fully between repeats. Go again, with the TT set a tenth faster, so you are stroking a little faster. Again take stock of time and effort relative to the first one. Keep repeating until you get to the stroke rate at the limit of your technical ability -- it'll be obvious -- you'll feel like you're starting to thrash and have a hard time keeping up with the beeping TT. You should get at least 3-4 different reps accomplished, and you can then look at the data -- your time, effort level, stroke count, etc. for each of the reps. That will give you some objective basis to make the judgment of what rate is YOUR unique "best" rate for that distance, at your current skill and conditioning level, for whatever goal you may have (the optimum rate to race it as fast as possible may be one rate, the optimum to swim it easily or elegantly will be another). Don't be surprised if a somewhat higher rate turns out to be easier, all things considered, than a very slow, prolonged glide type rate -- the tradeoff between a little extra work (more strokes) and some extra respiratory cycles (more air) may be well worth it. As technique and fitness improve, you'll be able to stroke faster without form breaking down, and/or swim a given rate faster (sleeker) with less energy expenditure.
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2009
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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Thanks Eddiewouldgo. To answer your question let's talk about swimming a 1,500m long distance the TI way (no SPRINTS).

You are right: there are 4 interrelated variables to play with: SR (Stroke Rate), SL (Stroke Lenght), BR (Breathing Rate) and DRAG.
Shall FITNESS LEVEL be the 5th one?

I guess if your technique/balance and fitness levels are good, then DRAG is a constant and is low.

I like your action plan, I will put it into practice with the TEMPO Trainer and a heart rate monitor.

STARTING POINT: Where to go from here?
My starting point is SR=2sec, Bilateral Breathing (1 breath every 6 sec), Technique= "B" , Fitness Level = "C+" (Muscle power, stamina)

This combination leads to the following:
LAP 1 (25m) good.... feeling of balance, good technique
LAP 2 (25m) OK.... start feeling out of breath, body starts losing balance
LAP 3 (25m) Average.... balance is out, stroke becomes more rushed
LAP 4 (25m) Bad.... need to STOP, high drag, totally out of breath

What variables to play with to improve the situation?

Last edited by Alex-SG : 11-28-2009 at 05:57 AM.
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2009
atreides atreides is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
This combination leads to the following:
LAP 1 (25m) good.... feeling of balance, good technique
LAP 2 (25m) OK.... start feeling out of breath, body starts losing balance
LAP 3 (25m) Average.... balance is out, stroke becomes more rushed
LAP 4 (25m) Bad.... need to STOP, high drag, totally out of breath

What variables to play with to improve the situation?
I will be very interested as to the prescription here for I have the same problem. I found this correlation (stroke rate vs breathing) months ago but have yet to figure out the correct solution. I have been working the eficiency angle pretty hard with some notable improvements but still no breakthrough on the stamina angle. I feel like my stoke mechanics are lightyears better but I still manage to feel fatigued at the end of a 25 meter lap. Here are some angles that I am pursuing in no particular order of importance:

1. Water comfort- I'm wonderng if that part of my problem is that repeatedly submerging my face in the water is somehow still irritating me to a point that it inhibits my breathing. I swim three or four times a week so I find this one hard to believe. But maybe standing at the end of a lane and doing breathing drills for 10 minutes may gain me an element of relaxation that I am missing.

2. Goggle comfort- I know this sounds silly but I just noticed the other day that at the end of a lap that the first thing I do is pull my goggles up. I think that I might have them on too tight. Maybe I should experiment with the flatter fitting goggles. Today I will try to loosen them to a point where they will almost let in water.

3. Breathing out through my mouth and nose- Part of the "I need to stop now" reflex may have something to do with CO2 buildup. This would coincide with the good feeling I have at the beginning of a lap with nearly effortless stroking but yet progressively building a seemingly higher heart rate. One of the first things that I learned when I began this was to breathe out of my nose. But maybe my particular physiology doesn't allow complete evacuation of CO2. I finally ridded myself of having to blow out before I breathed in particularly when I increased my stoke rate. I didn't have the problem when I breathed every 4th stroke. But maybe there is CO2 left that I'm not getting and forcefully pushing it out will do the trick I've tried this before and it seems to contribute to more breathlessnes not less.

4. Reduce upper body weight lifting- Because I have been swimming more, I have reduce the amount of weight lifting that I do. And now I notice that my arms are far more relaxed particularly on recovery and entry. I was never a big weight lifter by any stretch, but I did a fairly decent workout (light weights lotsa reps) twice a week. What I have noticed is that the next day after a workout that it was harder to relax my arms. When I did both arms and legs, it seemed I was less buoyant.

I would be interested if any of this resonates with you (or anybody else). I plan to keep up the swimming but I'm not sure when (or if) I will finally overcome this.
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  #5  
Old 11-28-2009
RadSwim RadSwim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
My starting point is SR=2sec, Bilateral Breathing (1 breath every 6 sec), Technique= "B" , Fitness Level = "C+" (Muscle power, stamina)
I assume that you mean 2 seconds for each hand entry. If correct, the first modification is to increase your stroke rate.

Begin at 1.5 sec per stroke and work toward 1.3 seconds per stroke. See if balance is easier.

RadSwim
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2009
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atreides View Post
.... no breakthrough on the stamina angle. I feel like my stoke mechanics are lightyears better but I still manage to feel fatigued at the end of a 25 meter lap....
1. Water comfort
2. Goggle comfort-
3. Breathing out through my mouth and nose- ...I didn't have the problem when I breathed every 4th stroke. But maybe there is CO2...
4. Reduce upper body weight lifting-

I would be interested if any of this resonates with you (or anybody else)..
Hello Atreides, looks like you and I have been fighting the STAMINA point for some time...

Quick comments on your points above...
1. 2. No advice to offer

3. I saw an old post where TERRY says that we should exhale through the nose and he does not see the point to breath less frequently than Bilateral (once every 3). If I were you I would forget about the "every 4 breathing because:
a. If you swim slowly, then you do not inhale often enough and run out of breadth very fast (like me with my SR=2SEC)
b. Breathing every 4 may force you to progressively accelerate your stroke to catch air more frequently. When the Stroke Rate becomes too high, your energy consumption goes up and so does your heart rate

4. My thought on upper body weight lifting is the following: your muscles (especially shoulders) become stiff... the lack of flexibility then prevents you from bringing your elbows forward on recovery which means you miss the chance to reposition your center of gravity forward on each stroke (and regain balance). Having flexible shoulders is really helpful.

Last edited by Alex-SG : 11-29-2009 at 01:59 PM.
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2009
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atreides View Post
....I have been working the eficiency angle pretty hard with some notable improvements but still no breakthrough on the stamina angle...still manage to feel fatigued at the end of a 25 meter lap....
ATREIDES,
I have also been working very extensively on my technique with balance drills, underswitch drills... And just like you I swim a "TEXT BOOK LAP 1..." and then the stroke/body position start falling apart.

I have reached the conclusion that Technique alone is not enough, I also have to practice my Stamina (Breathing comfort + muscle fittness/endurance).

WHY?
Because if I run out of breath, I will naturally tend to accelerate my stroke which means balance and stroke quality will deteriorate.
If my muscles get tired, the same will happen

Here is my PLAN:

1. TEMPO TRAINER - helps me swim with rythm and at the same stroke rate. This will help me fight this instinct to accelerate the stroke so that air comes faster

2. INTERVAL TRAINING ( 50mx10, with 30sec pause in between) Every week I will reduce the Pause by 5sec. Since my good technique only lasts 2 LAPS, it seems wise to have 50m Intervals prior to rest time. I will set the TEMPO Trainer to something lower than SR=2sec (may be SR=1.5 as suggested by RADSwim).

3. GYM - few suggested TI exercises for back, chest and core + stretching

Do you think this plan will help?
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  #8  
Old 11-30-2009
atreides atreides is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
ATREIDES,


Here is my PLAN:

1. TEMPO TRAINER - helps me swim with rythm and at the same stroke rate. This will help me fight this instinct to accelerate the stroke so that air comes faster

2. INTERVAL TRAINING ( 50mx10, with 30sec pause in between) Every week I will reduce the Pause by 5sec. Since my good technique only lasts 2 LAPS, it seems wise to have 50m Intervals prior to rest time. I will set the TEMPO Trainer to something lower than SR=2sec (may be SR=1.5 as suggested by RADSwim).

3. GYM - few suggested TI exercises for back, chest and core + stretching

Do you think this plan will help?
I think you've got a good plan. I especially like your step 1. Here's why. I think the tempo/rhythmn thing could be the missing link. From time to time, I will swim a lap that I'm probably over rotating but I fall into this nice little rhythm. Those laps seem like fun. But I'm so used to stopping, that I have never followed up one of those with another. Also, I think the tempo trainer may be a nice little distraction that may get your mind off of your heart rate or possible "minor" CO2 buildup. I find when I'm trying to learn something (like the two beat kick), I tend to forget all about my breathing problems. But it never lasts because as soon as I feel like I've got it down, I go back to thinking about breathing.

Ultimately, I think that you and I have to find that happy medium between stroke rate and energy utlilization. One thing that I noticed yesterday is that I have a tendency to skate/glide particularly when I'm doing a pretty good job on my hip drive. What I know now (I think???) is that if I'm going to swim distance I CAN'T do that. Doing that causes CO2 buildup which triggers the "stop" reflex that I have. That's where the rhythm thing come into play. Next time I swim I'm going to try to find a nice "happy" rhythm and see how far I can go with it. But one thing that we both have to watch. I firmly believe in what Terry says about swimming distance. The only reason to do it is to imprint good habits. So I will stop the minute I start "flailing". That's why getting a good rhythmn is so important. It may allow me to stay in form even while I'm not feeling that great. What do you think?
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  #9  
Old 12-01-2009
as as is offline
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as
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smiling with a loose head (letting the water cushion the forehead) helps a lot.

practicing backstroke also helps, since you can breath most of the time (again, head cushioned - like laying in hammock). that might help you get more relaxed and work on stamina without having to stop so often. i also hope/believe that it will protect against unequal muscle development messing up the shoulders.

and then there's somehow a slight stepwise improvement and then suddenly you can go for 6 laps at a time. weird. and then the same thing happens and you can swim until you get tired after most of a mile.
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  #10  
Old 12-01-2009
Landlover Landlover is offline
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Default The turn is also a factor

Thanks everyone for this interesting thread - it puts into a structure a lot of what I have been trying to figure out. One more variable that I think is important on a 25m pool is your turn. If you do a flip turn or a long smooth open turn, you gain efficiency and improve SPL, but you consume more oxygen...sometimes the laps that I start off with a super smooth turn and glide end up more ragged.

The more oxygen turn from the DVD is an option.
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