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  #11  
Old 11-27-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
P.S. One of the specific things that I was able to identify was that when I got tired and started to crap out, I stopped reaching out nice and long with my lead hand. My elbow wouldn't extend fully, and/or my shoulder blade wouldn't slide as far forward of my head on the reach. It was mixed up somehow with the thought that if I were to reach out all the way like I was supposed to, I wouldn't have the concentration or energy to keep in balance and alignment, so the easy way out for this up-coming stroke was to do a "sort-of" reach. But with mental discipline I was able to over-ride my reluctance and to do a proper full reach, and almost always the balance and alignment was still achievable.

A real eye-opener.
The above sounds very familiar to me. Sclim, you have buoyancy problems that I don't have, and I don't know how much that impacts the choices you have here, but in this situation I would simply try to slow the stroke rate down in order to give yourself time to make sure that you are really extending from the shoulder girdle and also from the hip.

The other thing that I notice in myself is that my weight shifts backwards so that my legs drop somewhat when I fatigue. When you are absolutely fresh and unfatigued, try to imprint your body position and how horizontal you are, so you can compare it to your body position when you fatigue. The easiest way for me to do this is using the skating exercise. Are you able to skate with a good horizontal body position? Your buoyancy problems might make this difficult.

Good luck!
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  #12  
Old 11-27-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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The above sounds very familiar to me. Sclim, you have buoyancy problems that I don't have, and I don't know how much that impacts the choices you have here, but in this situation I would simply try to slow the stroke rate down in order to give yourself time to make sure that you are really extending from the shoulder girdle and also from the hip.

The other thing that I notice in myself is that my weight shifts backwards so that my legs drop somewhat when I fatigue. When you are absolutely fresh and unfatigued, try to imprint your body position and how horizontal you are, so you can compare it to your body position when you fatigue. The easiest way for me to do this is using the skating exercise. Are you able to skate with a good horizontal body position? Your buoyancy problems might make this difficult.

Good luck!
Yes, I have buoyancy problems, but also yes I can skate reasonably well, particularly when fresh. But what I don't get is why fatigue makes my balance poor. What is the muscle group (if any) that is failing when I get leg-heavy -- because I certainly feel fatigued, but the weakness doesn't seem to be localised to any part of the body that could be attributable to dropping of the legs. Could it be loss of core rigidity? Could be. But more precisely it seems that it is mental sharpness that is failing so the brain messages to, say, the core to keep aligned, are not keeping pace with the natural loss of alignment that happens when you are tired...etc.

Is this the reason (no longer floppy core) why when I am fresh, almost without trying I can shave off a stroke or one and a half per pool length, and I don't seem to know how I'm doing anything different?

Floppy core is likely a major factor, but also "brain softness", so all the necessary well timed subtle limb and trunk movements and alignments are not being as well coordinated as they were before, so balance suffers. That answers my unsaid question. Balance is not just a passive thing (two opposing static forces around a fulcrum) which is what I thought it was, but, in the context of swimming, also includes a complex dance of dynamic forces. This dynamic component is a more important factor in individuals whose body type suffer from imperfect static balance. Wow, this is a very important realisation for me!

Interesting helpful hint there -- to slow the stroke rate down. Intuitively that makes sense; but I'm not necessarily losing stroke length at the same stroke rate -- it actually is due, I notice, to my getting a momentary panic or loss of confidence so that I hurry the occasional breathing stroke which is then shortened. Then the shortening becomes infectious, and becomes generalised to more and more strokes. The mini-panic, such as it is, is related vaguely to the worry that I need more air, and sooner. But it isn't a true shortness of breath, because if I catch it early enough I can mentally re-focus and make sure all my strokes get back to the long smooth uniformly even pattern that I started out with. And the breathing problem, with luck, sorts itself out. So it's essentially a mental thing, or mostly so, I think.

This is so interesting, trying to sort out where brain fatigue ends and muscle fatigue starts. Perhaps I am over-simplifying, and there is a huge overlap. But it certainly isn't just muscle fatigue which is what I would have first thought until close observation of what was happening as I got tired didn't match what I would have expected if it was purely muscular or cardio-pulmonary fatigue.
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  #13  
Old 11-27-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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I keep asking myself -- I'm a smart guy, so why is it taking me so long to learn this stuff????

I guess there is no why. It just is. Go with the Force, Luke.
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  #14  
Old 11-27-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
When you are absolutely fresh and unfatigued, try to imprint your body position and how horizontal you are, so you can compare it to your body position when you fatigue.
Good luck!
I just realised that I have a very poor direct perception of body alignment, particularly when fatigued. That's why I've got nothing to compare.

The best idea that I have is from short videos taken by my coach; but these were staged, i.e. set up for me to show my best form, which meant I was always fresh when they were taken, and it was during a single length. I need to get a video done when I am badly fatiguing.

When I am fresh I am able to to a mental internal "check-list" that includes, sort of, the degree of trunk alignment horizontality. Unfortunately, my buoyancy, or rather lack of it, means that when I am horizontal, my whole body is about 2 inches from the surface. So my hips never break the surface. So I am missing the sensory clue that comes from the sensation of a water/air interface stimulating the skin of my hips. The estimation by balance or similar proprioception of the angle of one's trunk axis relative to the surface is a much cruder estimation, and I'm sure I'm way off in my estimation compared to what I really am when I am tired.

I have found it really difficult to get a mental image of my body angle when I am fatigued -- so many other issues competing for attention. OK, time to add this alignment assessment as a priority when I'm tired.
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  #15  
Old 11-27-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Sclim, you're right, I don't have your buoyancy problems, so I have to be careful comparing my sensory perceptions to yours, but here are some thoughts, for whatever they are worth. I have the impression that we all can sense when our legs start dropping and it has nothing to do with the sense of breaking the water surface. Rather it is more a sense of losing ones balance. Unfortunately, our reaction to this sense of losing ones balance is incorrect. We may start to arch our back and lift our head at the same time, or something similar. In other words, we try to muscle our way back into balance as opposed to shifting our weight slightly. If you can successfully skate and feel comfortable when doing it, then you are already most of the way there, because skating comfortably requires the type of balance you need to keep your legs up. In particular, when you skate, can you role your whole body to the surface to breath without feeling your legs dropping? If you get to the point where you can skate in a relaxed fashion, then this is the ideal way to study balance and internalize it, because you aren't pre-occupied with so many other issues that concern the whole stroke. At least that is the case for me. That said, it has taken me years to really reach a comfort zone skating, and I don't claim that this is an easy exercise.

One more personal experience: I have lower back pain lately due to arthritis and the physical therapist started teaching me a different way to maintain my posture that doesn't bother my lower back. Still when I get tired, my back starts to hurt and I start trying to refind the correct posture and muscle contractions to stand more comfortably. This whole process bears a similarity to the situation I think we are talking about with fatigue in swimming. When I am tired, it is much harder to find that correct posture for reasons I don't fully understand yet. So for me the tables may now be turned: I'm having a tougher time teaching myself to stand comfortably than I have swimming horizontally. The good news is that I suspect the learning process for both is very similar, so if I can learn one, I should be able to learn the other as well. And that makes me optimistic.
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  #16  
Old 11-27-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Still when I get tired, my back starts to hurt and I start trying to refind the correct posture and muscle contractions to stand more comfortably. This whole process bears a similarity to the situation I think we are talking about with fatigue in swimming. When I am tired, it is much harder to find that correct posture for reasons I don't fully understand yet. .
Could it be that when you get tired and your back starts to hurt, it is BECAUSE you have been reverting to your old habitual painful posture? Not merely because you need the correct posture as a cure -- it is the absence of this correct posture that is the cause of the problem.

That certainly seem to be the case for me swimming when I realise I have poor balance and co-ordination when I am tired; I am in this situation because I already have reverted to my old pre-TI habits, probably several strokes ago without me noticing.

It is interesting, if you as an upright terrestial mammal have difficulty recognising a bad posture you are supposed to avoid during a seemingly familiar everyday activity such as standing erect, how much more difficult it would be to develop instinctive familiarity with a new learned (swimming) position and posture! That puts my struggle in some perspective, and perhaps will help give me patience.
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  #17  
Old 11-27-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Here's my theory, which is idle speculation. We were not built to let our conscious mind direct our motions as we move through the world. Most of this motion is relegated to our unconscious, which means that we are relying on instinct and previously learned patterns to run the show. This includes the way that both of us swim and the way I stand, which is in part a consequence of a life squandered in front of a computer screen. In the case of swimming, we are trying to teach our body a different way to move by directing it with our conscious mind. This is not a very efficient way to move, it requires a lot of overhead and slows us down, because our conscious mind is not as fast as our instincts. It also requires a lot of energy, mental energy and maybe physical energy as well, especially when we tense muscles to force them not to do the things that they are inclined to do from habit under the same circumstances. The newer the process is, the more energy is required to do it and the less time it takes before we are mentally exhausted and can't do it anymore. If we forcibly repeat these motions, they start to become more habitual over time, but this is a gradual process. That means that the energy required to manage the show on a conscious level starts to go down, but only gradually. Eventually we still get too tired to run the show on a conscious level, but in this intermediate state of learning, we now have two or more different sets of habits that are ingrained to different levels. As our fatigue increases, the habit that is most internalized will eventually win, even if it is the wrong one.

So that's what we're up against and we shouldn't be too surprised at the results. Of course there's all sorts of wiggle room in this process, tricks we can use to internalize new patterns more quickly. Any way we can relate the new stuff to some aspect of the old stuff is bound to accelerate the process. And of course there are some people who may have more of a talent for letting their conscious mind dictate their motions. I think that this is something one can learn, and I hope that my efforts in learning swimming will eventually come to my aid in learning how to sit and stand with good posture so that my back stops hurting. Only time will tell.
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  #18  
Old 11-28-2015
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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I like to pause my stroke at random points sometimes to get feedback on my body position.

A bit like swimming version of musical chairs. imagine the music stops and you
freeze' hopefully you continue moving forwards in streamline, if you start to stop or sink then you should get some feedback as to which part of the body is wonky.

Personally, I've found it easier to imprint better streamline from introducing more breast stroke into my swim sets since it's such a body position dependent stroke, and the outstretched pause in the cycle allows you to observe the extent of your streamline in realtime.

The learning curve is also massive. When I started I needed 11 strokes to complete a leisurely 25m, now I can do a 5 (with a long push and split pull underwater)
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  #19  
Old 11-28-2015
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Andy ,
dont you think the same happens in breaststroke: if you take too long strokes that it gets more exhausting?
Just like freestyle there is an optimal rhythm where your body naturally bobs up and down in combinatin with some undulation (in breaststroke) and where you can connect the strokes to each other.
In free and back its finding a rhythm around the long axis. And than relax as much as possible while keeping that rhythm going if you want to spend the least amount of energy.
I get the same in breastroke as in freestyle when going slow with a lot of glide in between. The glide feels great, but getting into traction again gets more difficult.
Speeding up gets you in a shorter stroke and going another step faster the stroke lenghtens out again.
This is basically the same in my freestyle, backstroke and breastroke, so it goes beyond a certain stroke style or detail.
If your breastrokle balance is good its hard to imagine how other people can swim with their head above water all the time.
My optimal stroke count for breaststroke is 8-10/ 25 m.
I have seen some short chubby woman swim breaststroke at a 1.30- 1.40 min/100m pace for 100s of meters using much shorter strokes. Pretty funny to see them passing freestylers swimming this way.
Couldnt keep up with them for long in breastroke, certainly not when they switched over to freestyle which was in another pace range. Chubby, but in good swimming shape ladies!

I regognize a lot in the things Danny and Slim are saying. It takes so much time to make those swimming movements automatic. Old dogs learning new tricks.
The core action is so subtle. Switching a lot between no and 2BK , 6Bk lately. When going from no to 2BK there is a certain body tone and kick timing that really helps lifting your swim beyond the no kick level. Its not so much that needs to be done at low speed, but its all happening deep inside , almost in the subconscious.
Takes a lot of self awareness to feel it when it happens and to keep it going.
Thinking a lot,trying to mentally correct all the movements and being exhausted doesnt help, but sometimes being exhausted can shut of the thinking and let the body find its way to deal with the problems. Surrender yourself to the water.(for short moments)
Maybe taking a few strong beers before a swim can help some of us serious overthinkers once in a while.

Last edited by Zenturtle : 11-28-2015 at 10:05 AM.
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  #20  
Old 11-28-2015
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Danny,

think you hit a nail, most of us have to find a position to. I find your "what-happens-point" in nearly the same way in two something different parts. First when becoming tired in a "longer" swim (well, longer for me begins with some 500m...) second when swimming with a too "fast" SR (that's for me faster than 1.3s, will be ridiculous for most of you...).

In first there is somewhat a grey zone. Before it impacts on the SPL (that's for me more than +1SPL(SCM) or +2SPL(LCM)) some single point rises into my awareness: Mostly: What's that, an elbow splash? Starting a tensed neck with headlifting? Uuuh my left recovery seems not elbowlead anymore! Am I going more stacked than necessary? Did I spear more upwards "for air"?... If so, the single point often might be "repaired" for the next or some more laps.

But then in not too far future the realized flaws appear in shorter intervals or not any more as singles... (And with them disastrous toughts: Splash wan't matter, what does an elbow mean, lifting head gives more air to go on, forget TI for some minutes...) Only cure for me seems to be half a mindful minute at pool's edge or in OW slowing down SR so long until all (mind and body) will be right placed again. (I do like the feeling of puzzle parts falling right again so much, that it often becomes "impossible" to speed up again.) When thinking about my most liked cool downs (in pool) slowing down and changing breathing pattern might be of help. And as Andy wrote, BS some minutes not for speed, more for "SG-overgliding" and glide-awareness parts will be helpful surely. Most important thing seems to change any fundamentals that present you a totally different body feeling to have the chance and flatten out again...

The gray zone in second case seems much narrower. Glad, when I've found the day's TT-Setting where only one flaw arised. Then it's workable with FP in short repetitions. Next day this setting might not work anymore... Too often the TT-bong becomes the main FP...

Think the long distance swimmers own their SR in a variable forever rate -from recovery rate up to balance test- where problems like ours will "never" arise. Within this they'll even never will be able to struggle. (Although their SRs and SLs will in neither way be reachable for me for fastest laps.) Terry once wrote, fastest and forever pace should not vary more than 10s (per 100m). May be due to age, but sad enough, my difference varied from 40s to 25s, but 10s shared from fastest... :-(

Best regards,
Werner
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