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  #1  
Old 03-19-2016
gary p gary p is offline
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Default In praise of the deeper spear

Since I came back to swimming about a year and a half ago (after a 27 year layoff), I've been primarily training for sprints and middle distance. I swam the 50, 100, and 400 meter free at last year's USMS Summer Nationals Championship. Wanted to go back this year, but the logistics just won't work. The USMS 2 Mile Cable Swim National Championship, however, is conveniently close and on a weekend I'm free so I'm targeting that as my "big meet" of the year. As such, I've recently shifted my workouts to more distance-focused sets.

I've found myself struggling with balance at the slower training speeds. And while I can start a rep with what I consider a good SPL, fatigue would set in faster than I would expect given the amount of effort I was expending and my SPL would expand to the edge of my green zone relatively quickly.

Based on a recent 1650 performance (21:17) and my distance in the 1 hour ePostal challenge (4315 yards), I settled on starting with a 1:22/100 target training pace for the 2 mile race. Thursday I set out to do 200's (SCY) on 3:00 with a target time of 2:44, USRPT style. That means if I failed to meet the target time, I would rest an extra minute and resume. Two consecutive failures, or three failures would signal the end of the set. I failed at rep 8, rep 10, and rep 11.

Tried the same set today. As I went further into the set, I was feeling much of the same fatigue. It was frustrating, like I wasn't getting enough air even though I was swimming at what felt like a slow pace. About half way through the 8th repetition, I made a conscious effort to spear deeper, if not quite as far forward. In other words, I quit reaching so much. It felt so good that I kept going at the 200 mark and did another 100 like that. I rested only long enough to be resume at the time I should have been flipping at 100 yards of the 9th repetition. I continued as normal on the 10th repetition. My SPL on the first length of the 200 was 1-2 higher than earlier in the set, but I was able to hold that SPL through the whole 200. I also felt able to pull and kick with a little more force without getting unduly tired. I came in at ~2:40 on rep 10. And again on 11..and 12, 13, 14, and 15. That one change had netted me about 2 seconds/100 at the same effort. Jackpot! As I was running out of time, I had to quit after rep 16. I pressed harder on that last rep, and finished in a 2:33. I swear I could have done at least 4 or 5 more at 2:40 if I'd had the time. That little adjustment seemed to allow me to get more air in with each breath. Or maybe I was just staying in a more streamlined position, and not fighting as much drag. Either way, I felt much stronger.

Tomorrow is team practice, where I'll end up doing shorter reps at a faster pace. It'll be fun to experiment with the different spearing target at different speeds to see if there are similar gains to be found there.

Last edited by gary p : 03-19-2016 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 03-19-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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In the neighboring thread "hope for men of average height" descending has argued the opposite, that a deep spear loses streamlining and costs you as a result. On the other hand, a deep spear makes it easier to go into the catch, and that minor time saving can make you feel better. Balancing SPL against stroke rate is a very personal thing and spearing deeper may cost some SPL.

Good luck on your race. I'm in awe of your times!
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2016
descending descending is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
In the neighboring thread "hope for men of average height" descending has argued the opposite, that a deep spear loses streamlining and costs you as a result. On the other hand, a deep spear makes it easier to go into the catch, and that minor time saving can make you feel better. Balancing SPL against stroke rate is a very personal thing and spearing deeper may cost some SPL.

Good luck on your race. I'm in awe of your times!
I think a deep spear is fine in those times above it won't become detrimental until he starts trying to break into AG podium paces. You just don't see deep spearing arms doing 5:30 500scy etc etc. That said those are very fine times not sure of his AG regardless that's great swimming

The deep spearing arm is not a bad way to swim at all, but it does have limitations on capping speed potential that's the only point I was trying to make.

Last edited by descending : 03-19-2016 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 03-19-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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What was the before angle at what the end angle?
It reads to me that you where going from shallpw spear and rip through to a slightly deeper spear automatically falling into catch pull action.
Did you have the same time between spear and catch or did that change too?
I guess the results with a higher turnover rate in short distances will be less positive.

Last edited by Zenturtle : 03-19-2016 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 03-20-2016
gary p gary p is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
In the neighboring thread "hope for men of average height" descending has argued the opposite, that a deep spear loses streamlining and costs you as a result. On the other hand, a deep spear makes it easier to go into the catch, and that minor time saving can make you feel better. Balancing SPL against stroke rate is a very personal thing and spearing deeper may cost some SPL.

Good luck on your race. I'm in awe of your times!
The deeper spear cost me some SPL at the beginning, but since I wasn't fighting balance as I breathed, I didn't fatigue as much. My SPL was the same or better on the last 3 25's.
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Old 03-20-2016
lloyddinma lloyddinma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
In the neighboring thread "hope for men of average height" descending has argued the opposite, that a deep spear loses streamlining and costs you as a result. On the other hand, a deep spear makes it easier to go into the catch,!

I am having a challenging time articulating my question here:
I only really get a catch when I spear deeper. On a flat spear, do you guys catch from the onset, or do you have to pull back somewhat to a deeper end of an arc then feel the "grip" ?
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Old 03-20-2016
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Has the other side also regogmized the shoulder flexibility of the avarage adult onset swimmer?
http://www.feelforthewater.com/2016/...lexibilty.html
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Old 03-20-2016
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
In the neighboring thread "hope for men of average height" descending has argued the opposite, that a deep spear loses streamlining and costs you as a result. On the other hand, a deep spear makes it easier to go into the catch, and that minor time saving can make you feel better. Balancing SPL against stroke rate is a very personal thing and spearing deeper may cost some SPL.

Good luck on your race. I'm in awe of your times!
First, a clarification: What TI means by "spearing" is the entry and extension of the recovering arm. This is not the same thing as stroking.

Many of us have an intuitive feeling that we should spear more or less straight forward because this will create the least amount of drag. The trouble is that, for most people, a lower leading arm is needed to bring their body into balance. So while the recovering arm may create less drag if they spear straight forward, the cost will typically be that the swimmer's hips will sink a bit, which will cause the entire underside of their body to create drag as they move through the water (I have a video in my smartphone that I took of a swimmer which illustrates this rather nicely).

Elite swimmers typically to not spear all that low because they have learned to achieve good balance without needing to spear all that deeply.

Note that spearing deeply is not the same thing as stroking deeply. The TI focal point of imagining that you are reaching over the hood of a Volkswagen beetle implies that your hand will not go all that deep as you are stroking, and there are several reasons why this is good. One is that there is an envelope of water around your body that has picked up some of its forward momentum and that is therefore moving with it, so by not stroking too deeply, you are grabbing onto water that is moving forward with you instead of water that is stationary. It's similar to the reason that rockets that are headed into orbit are normally launched toward the east: Since Earth rotates from west to east, the rocket has a little less work to do to achieve orbital velocity.


Bob
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2016
descending descending is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachBobM View Post
First, a clarification: What TI means by "spearing" is the entry and extension of the recovering arm. This is not the same thing as stroking.

Many of us have an intuitive feeling that we should spear more or less straight forward because this will create the least amount of drag. The trouble is that, for most people, a lower leading arm is needed to bring their body into balance. So while the recovering arm may create less drag if they spear straight forward, the cost will typically be that the swimmer's hips will sink a bit, which will cause the entire underside of their body to create drag as they move through the water (I have a video in my smartphone that I took of a swimmer which illustrates this rather nicely).

Elite swimmers typically to not spear all that low because they have learned to achieve good balance without needing to spear all that deeply.

Note that spearing deeply is not the same thing as stroking deeply. The TI focal point of imagining that you are reaching over the hood of a Volkswagen beetle implies that your hand will not go all that deep as you are stroking, and there are several reasons why this is good. One is that there is an envelope of water around your body that has picked up some of its forward momentum and that is therefore moving with it, so by not stroking too deeply, you are grabbing onto water that is moving forward with you instead of water that is stationary. It's similar to the reason that rockets that are headed into orbit are normally launched toward the east: Since Earth rotates from west to east, the rocket has a little less work to do to achieve orbital velocity.


Bob
This is a huge point I didn't take into account that perhaps everyone isn't on board with is the balance and body/limb control. If a swimmer doesn't have complete control of that then the flatter entry and extension is a potential disaster for the swimmer driving the hips and legs even deeper. Glad you brought that up b/c I was under the assumption everyone was at the point where they had this under control already and were working on stroke mechanics. I think it's great TI focuses on balance so much I see almost no adult swimmers address it outside of our Masters and club teams. At open swim lots of triathletes there, a 10 pound bag full of swim toys, MP3 player etc swimming their guts out with zero concept of balance. I happen to believe as do most dedicated swim coaches that until a swimmer can control their body head to toe they need not move on to step 2. Love the way a snorkel addresses this for a lot of swimmers too such a great tool. The breathing component is a stroke wrecker.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenturtle View Post
Has the other side also regogmized the shoulder flexibility of the avarage adult onset swimmer?
http://www.feelforthewater.com/2016/...lexibilty.html
That's a great article. And exactly the reason we don't blanket recommend all the things descend has been suggesting. But not because it's not good swimming, but because large numbers of adults are swimming poorly by attempting it.

TI works from this position "out" meaning we start most folks here and experiment with them to find an optimal position.

However as even commenters on that site noted, a deeper position enables better catch and avoids pushing down at the start of the stroke.

Good swimming is simply good swimming, I don't feel strongly that there is a "TI style" or a "McClarty style" or whatever.

Last week I had two non TI coaches look at my stroke and told me "perfect I wouldn't make any changes." TI is a systematic way to teach great swimming that takes into account flexibility and efficiency.
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