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  #1  
Old 05-16-2016
sclim sclim is offline
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sclim
Default Is there a time to abandon SPL ideal?

Context: My SPL green zone is between 17.5 and 22.5 for 25m pool.

When I swim really slow at slow TT settings, and for only 1 25 m length I can get 20 SPL, maybe 19 SPL if I really try. But I don't know if this counts a much of an achievement if I can only do it for one length.

Otherwise, swimming 50m at TT at say, 1.40 sec, I can get 22 SPL the first length then 23 the next.

So rather than get stuck at 50m endurance capability by trying to get my 50 m SPL to 22 for both lengths, I thought I'd go on to 100m repeats.

If I go 100m repeats with 20 second rests, with TT set at 1.40 seconds to 1.30 seconds, I can start out with 22 SPL for the first length, but mostly I shoot for 23 to 24 for the first length, so that by the 3rd length I'm not deteriorating too badly, and get an average of 25 SPL, which means I have gone 26 in the latter half (I'm usually too fatigued and distracted to keep count in the latter half). On the odd occasion I have been able to average 24 SPL for the entire 100m.

I haven't been able to improve on this, so when I do 100's with the TT set at 1.40sec I am likely to take 2:40 (25 SPL average, allowing for 2 beats on turns), or if I'm really on form, rarely, 2:35 (average 24 SPL)

As I drop the TT setting by 0.01 seconds on each 100m repeat, in theory the 100m time should drop by about a second on each 100m, until by the 10th repeat (at TT 1.31 sec) I should be down to 2:30 for the 100m, at the relatively modest goal of maintaining average 25 SPL.

Instead, my 100m times slowly creep up from the projected 25 SPL times as I fatigue, until, if I'm not feeling too bagged, it takes a TT setting of 1.26, 1.25 sec to get me below 2:30 for the 100m.

Are you with me so far?

So, given my inability to get below 2:30 for 100m easily by what I thought would be the most logical and efficient strategy, i.e. by trying to drop the SPL or at least maintain a marginally acceptable SPL of 22 for longer and longer durations, I thought that I was unlikely to be able to sustain 2:30 for 100m by any other strategy.

I was surprised and a little confused by what happened 2 days ago at our weekly TI "swim club" group coaching session. After warmups and drills, we were set an assignment, to swim 500m x 4 without TT prompting, but each time with a prearranged mental target pace. Firstly at slow pace then building up speed. I had real doubts as to my ability to swim 500m unbroken without getting really fatigued or short of breath, so I set my first target conservatively at 2:50 per 100m which would get me home 500m at 14:10. As I set off, groping to find a suitable tempo, I consciously tried to set a relaxed tempo and slower pace than my usual 100m repeats, but as I passed my first 100m I found that I had overcooked, and come in at 2:45. Despite trying to slow down, I did 500m in 14:00 or so, and was not short of breath at all.

My next 500m I aimed for a 2:48 pace to exactly come in at 14:00 but came in at 13:45, and likewise, overcooked my 3rd attempt aiming for 2:45 x 5 = 13:45, but achieving about 13:35. By this time I had lost count of SPLs except they were definitely over 25 average.

I expressed my puzzlement and frustration to the coach and he suggested just relaxing, to try and find a natural tempo, but fast enough to judge that I would be just able to finish this last 500m at this tempo, and don't kill myself in getting as long a stroke as absolutely possible, but paying attention to patience and arm overlap, deep spear etc. So I didn't plan a target 100m rate for this last 500m.

I set off on this last 500, and found I was able to dial up the tempo quite a bit, and the rocking motion seemed to flow quite naturally, without forcing me to get out of breath. I was able to relax a little, allowing me to rotate my focus sequentially on patience, overlapping hands, pushing my chest down, etc. Long story short, I did the 500m in 12:40, which meant an average 100m rate of 2:32 which was beyond my wildest expectations. I had lost count of my SPL, except on the occasional length when I was able to count, maintain focus for efficiency and relax at the same time. My SPL varied from 23 when I was (rarely) able to get it just right to way above 25 SPL.

So, was this exercise a bad thing, in that it reinforced a kind of cavalier attitude to SPL when I managed to get through quite a satisfying set of 4 500m repeats, an achievement in itself for me, particularly at that speed?

Or should I take the attitude that comfort at higher tempos is always going to be easy to achieve, and that therefore I should go back to the hard part, grinding out low SPLs at slower TT settings for as long distance durations as I can achieve without escalating my SPL count, because this is the strategy most likely to give me lasting reproducible efficiency?

Last edited by sclim : 05-16-2016 at 05:08 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-16-2016
Streak Streak is offline
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Hey sclim. I dont know if there "is a time to abandon SPL ideal".
I will say though, as I have many times before, that SPL is just one of the measures. The bulk of my TI journey has been without counting SPL but focusing on streamline, balance and trying to reduce my 100 yard times and being able to pick a reasonably fast time and do it for say 6x100 with a 10 second rest in-between each.

The result of this getting fitter exercise, is that when I next do an SPL focus some weeks later, is that I can get to my ideal SPL range and keep it there for more lengths than before. I want SPL to improve as a result of fitness and other things I am doing and not be the central focus. The same way as TI says that speed comes so does reduced SPL.

Well done on reducing your consecutive 500 times by so much.
Allow me to say though that if you are doing 2:30 100 and are in your ideal range there is probably some room for improvement of your balance and streamlining which will increase your DPS and reduce your SPL. I am sure this is something that your coach can help you with? Fix a couple of these issues (head looking straight down at the line, patient lead hand, not lifting your head when breathing etc.) THEN measure your SPL and time again and you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.
As I have said before, too much obsessing over SPL takes away brain power needed to concentrate on the other focal points.
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  #3  
Old 05-16-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Quote:
and the rocking motion seemed to flow quite naturally, without forcing me to get out of breath.
This is pure gold Sclim.
I would regard this state as the foundation of your swims from now on.
First try to get in that groove, and if you find it there will be more relaxation.
From that relaxation and repetition you can make this groove your normal mode that is always accesible.
And from that relaxation you also can start to focus on little things that are going on.
Dont judge your SPL. Just observe whats happening during your stroke and tweak little things to improve your stroke on the fly.
This can be all kind of things, SPL improvent being only one of them.
Now go to the pool fast to not loose it.

Getting some kind of natural rhythm in your stroke is a great thing. Thinking about it, there are a few people in the pool that have a nice rhytmical stroke, but are slow at the same time, so its certainly not a guarantee for speed.
But at least it makes swimming much more pleasurable.
You know enough to slowly improve technical things from within that rhythm.
First find pleasant consistency, than go back to shorter repeats for enhanced short interval awareness and than go back to SPL focus or whatever focal point.

Last edited by Zenturtle : 05-16-2016 at 09:12 AM.
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  #4  
Old 05-17-2016
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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It's interesting to hear from ZT and Streak about not obsessing about SPL, as I've been (purposely) doing exactly that for a couple of months now. I certainly agree with ZT about that rocking motion you felt being something you ought to keep pursuing. It sounds like you are getting easy speed (i.e. faster than expected repeats, and lower than expected perceived effort), which is what I'm always after.

I've always practiced as if easy speed were a byproduct of training low SPL, in that when I allow myself more strokes at a faster tempo, I get faster but feel like I'm doing much less work. But it's the easy speed that matters, not the SPL number, so you may be making progress on a different path to the same goal.

I'm still inclined to look for balance/streamline issues until you can comfortably get into the SPL green zone--have you looked into that? I've plateaued at certain SPLs for a while, and had to swim lots of 25m repeats before I could hold that SPL on a 50m, etc. etc.

Enjoy!
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  #5  
Old 05-17-2016
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclim View Post
Or should I take the attitude that comfort at higher tempos is always going to be easy to achieve, and that therefore I should go back to the hard part, grinding out low SPLs at slower TT settings for as long distance durations as I can achieve without escalating my SPL count, because this is the strategy most likely to give me lasting reproducible efficiency?
I love this--this is exactly the opposite of my experience! Low SPL/low tempo is where I'm comfortable, and high tempo/SPL is hard to maintain.

The grass is always greener...

I'd be tempted to include work in a wide range of SPL and tempos, so you practice what you're weak at while maintaining what you're good at. I suspect there's always more potential gain to be had by concentrating on weaknesses, though I often avoid it as the other stuff is so fun.
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  #6  
Old 05-17-2016
tomoy tomoy is offline
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I think SPL is just one of several measures. As a singular goal, it's not so great, or it becomes a TI party trick. Look, 12 SPL! That can be a fool's pursuit, because the measurement needs to be constrained with some form of honesty.

When combined with longer distances and a sense of required effort, it is very effective and true.

What I mean by honesty/truth is that you can get a nice and low SPL by trying harder and gliding longer and hit nice numbers for 25Y, 50, maybe 100... but you'll find that's hard to keep up for longer distances, say 200Y and higher.

If you can get down to your green zone for only 50-200Y with a lot of effort, then you have to be honest with yourself and realize that you have more balance and streamlining work to do. If you can be in your green zone for 15-30-45-60 min, then your technique is clearly good.

I think we see that a lot on these forums with newer swimmers - can do 50, 100, maybe 200Y in decent time, but get wiped out after that. This is almost always an issue of balance. Video tells the truth - is the butt crowning the surface of the water, 1" below, 2" below, more? Those inches directly affect the ability to go from 15 min before maxing out to 45 with plenty more in the tank. Then streamlining - is the lead hand patient, is the kick tight and not splaying? Get that right and add another 25% of endurance.

Video and real coaching usually finds these truths. 5 years into my TI journey, I thought I was balanced and streamlined. Hah!
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2016
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
I love this--this is exactly the opposite of my experience! Low SPL/low tempo is where I'm comfortable, and high tempo/SPL is hard to maintain.

The grass is always greener...

I'd be tempted to include work in a wide range of SPL and tempos, so you practice what you're weak at while maintaining what you're good at. I suspect there's always more potential gain to be had by concentrating on weaknesses, though I often avoid it as the other stuff is so fun.
This is a good point, and makes a lot of sense. It also ensures you keep variety in the mix and keeps things interesting, less danger of burning out.
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  #8  
Old 05-20-2016
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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I didn't read all the thread, but the title is quite clear. Look at this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3zNXo_s-Bw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5cDJ5-01Yg

He clearly is way way above his green zone (1.78m tall, 26SPL in a 25m pool).

He's a triathlete, no swimming background, and his PBs are

- in the pool (25m): 100m 1.18 & 1000m 14.27 (pace 1:26.7/100m)
- best ironman swim 1.02 hours

He also has a 21km ow swim under his belt. How many can do this?

Is this stroke ineffective/inefficient? To me NO (any stroke that gets you through an IM leg in 1h and lets you complete the bike and run has to have something good).

Someone may wonder if he's a super trained guy who kills himself in the pool to sustain these times with such a short stroke. Well, no, he swims 3 times a week for 3-4km. He has good balance, good aerobic capacity and does NOT fight the water (if he did he would be slower and/or couldn't sustain that high stroke rate for long).

Don't want to say here that the green zone doesn't matter, but neither it has to become an obsession. There are many ways to swim effectively.

http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Sl...eded_P5949540/

Cheers,
Salvo
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Usually the swimmers are divided in 2 camps.
THese guys call them the strong versus the rhytmical swimmers
http://1vigor.com/article/swim-kick-...ue-cross-over/

This guy looks strong, but is swimmng on rhythm (although a bit in a robotic way), so there might be all kinds of mixes.

It gets the job done and it seems to work for him. Competetive swimmers probably dont swim this way because there is less room on the upside getting below 50-60 sec/100 m with this stroke. But that is a range most of us never achieve anyway.
At the same time I can understand Toms perspective.
Slowing down your swim is like discovering a whole new world that you have let pass you by in a blurr while trying to get fast from A to B.
LIke a walk in a forest compared to a fast run in the forest.
I have my doubts how much slow really slow swimming is helpfull in higher efoort higher speed swims, because you are approaching muscle force and endurance limits pretty fast if you speed up from your ingrained very slow smin practice.
Also the dynamics change, so what you have learnt can only partially be used at higher speeds.
But ingrainging some fundamentals at low speed and gradually taking them to higher speeds can be a usable path for some I guess, certainly if your goal speed isnt too far from your practice speed.

It looks to me there are different swim modes belonging to certain speed ranges. As long you stay in your movement mode, the different speed effort swimming within that mode is the most helpfull.(just guessing)
As long as you are a long distance swimmer you are always in mode 1 possibly, so nothing to worry about using the slow,aware and long method if this is your preferred style.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fC_QCMW1Xs

Last edited by Zenturtle : 05-20-2016 at 12:16 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2016
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
I didn't read all the thread, but the title is quite clear. Look at this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3zNXo_s-Bw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5cDJ5-01Yg

He clearly is way way above his green zone (1.78m tall, 26SPL in a 25m pool).

He's a triathlete, no swimming background, and his PBs are

- in the pool (25m): 100m 1.18 & 1000m 14.27 (pace 1:26.7/100m)
- best ironman swim 1.02 hours

He also has a 21km ow swim under his belt. How many can do this?

Is this stroke ineffective/inefficient? To me NO (any stroke that gets you through an IM leg in 1h and lets you complete the bike and run has to have something good).

Someone may wonder if he's a super trained guy who kills himself in the pool to sustain these times with such a short stroke. Well, no, he swims 3 times a week for 3-4km. He has good balance, good aerobic capacity and does NOT fight the water (if he did he would be slower and/or couldn't sustain that high stroke rate for long).

Don't want to say here that the green zone doesn't matter, but neither it has to become an obsession. There are many ways to swim effectively.

http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Sl...eded_P5949540/

Cheers,
Salvo
My first thought was to say "YES, YES, Thank You!". However, watching your clip I notice that he slips quite a bit even to my untrained eye. And at 178 cm height, his 26 SPL is relatively higher than my 26 SPL at my 162 cm height. No doubt he's superbly fit and does great times, but I'll bet he could quite easily tighten up some stroke mechanics and get a bit more free speed even at his level.

For myself, I'm inclined to believe I still have a lot of efficiency to squeeze out in my stroke mechanics and balance, just need to work on it methodically and expecting small and slow improvements at a time. Perhaps train and drill somewhat slower than my expected race cadence where I might be allowing a rather higher SPL.
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