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Old 07-21-2010
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Richardsk
Default Adapting Suzanne's 500 practice

Recently I've started experimenting with the tempo trainer again, having more or less abandoned it for several months. I still haven't really figured out how to use it to best advantage, but for the time being I'm trying to swim at tempos of around 1:30, which with my very slow pace and short stroke means 25m repeats at around 35 seconds. I haven't yet manage to string two 25's together to make a fifty in exactly double the 25m time, without consciously swimming faster, usually adding a stroke or two. As the repeat distance goes up, so the time gets longer and the number of strokes per length increases as well, usually. The other day, while trying out the tempo trainer and trying to synchronize my two-beat kick with it, I observed that the left foot was tending not to kick much or even to miss beats, so I decided to try Coach Suzanne's ladder of 4x25, 3X50, 2x75 and 1x 100, concentrating on the kick and trying to get a nice vigorous toe flick, especially with the left foot.

I didn't manage to do the set exactly as prescribed the first time because I lost count on one of the 75s and did it as 50 + 25. I was quite pleased with the result, though, because I seemed to keep up the pace fairly well, although the stroke count rose each time the distance increased. I also noticed a certain tension in the back of the neck, which suggested that my head position is still too high and also noticed that my left hand seems to cross over sometimes, which tends to induce fishtailing. Another fault that has become evident recently is a tendency to leave the right hand trailing beside the body at the end of the stroke, which may cause drag and probably spoils the rhythm. Plenty to think about!

I have a very basic swimmer's watch, which just records the time per length or repeat and I usually reset it to zero after each length and do rough calculations in my head as to total time. For Suzanne's set, I stop it at the end of each repeat and then start it again, and the final count should be something like the time I could swim in an actual 500m, if there were such a
race, on a good day, with a little assistance from the swim gods. Multiplied by three the final time should be a sort of goal time for the 1500m.

So far I have tried this set on three occasions and find it very enjoyable and helpful. Often I find the last 100m repeat has to be completed as two 50s. No doubt I could press on and do the 100 all in one go, but I think my form would probably break down. The left foot action seems to have already improved considerably and today I thought the tension in the back of the neck was less. The trailing and pausing right arm still needs conscious attention. I shall continue with this for a few weeks. Generally I am using the Tempo Trainer only at weekends, because the pool is full of fitness swimmers on weekdays and I have to fit my repeats in among theirs. Most of them swim continuously for the available time. We now have a lane-swimming system in our pool with the lanes divided into fast, medium and slow. Because these terms are open to interpretation by fitness swimmers, one often finds swimmers of quite different ability in the same lane. Slow in our pool is very slow indeed - vertical head-up breaststroke slow. I usually swim in the fast lane, because if I only swim 25m at a time I can fit in without disturbing the faster fitness types, as long as there aren't too many of them. Swimming anything longer than a 50m repeat at my pace often causes congestion. In the medium lane I too often find myself balked by swimmers who are even slower than I am.

I am hoping that with practice I can fit in as many as three repeats of Suzanne's set in the time allotted to lane swimming, which is theoretically 55 minutes, but often turns out to be a little less, because of arriving a few minutes late.
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Old 07-21-2010
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Richard,

i LOVE this post. :)

It sounds to me like you are approaching your skills and improvement with just the right attitude. What I really love about that broken 500 set (I learned it from Terry), is that it builds gradually in distance. You are doing fine by breaking the 100 up in to 2 x 50 if that's what you need to do.

By using the tempo trainer and counting your strokes you are giving yourself parameters by which you can measure improvement and/or lack of improvement.

And focusing on just a handful of focal points is the only way you can improve those aspects of your swim.

I follow your logic exactly as far as the projected goal times for both a 500 as awell as a 1500.

Keep up your deliberate and measured practice and you will continue to see improvement. When you are ready do a 1000 yard practice, try this broken set as well, which adds up to 1000:
4x25
4x50
4x75
4x100
So simple I never even thought of it...got that from Coach Mark Truitt.

Keep up the great work and inspiration!
__________________
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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Old 07-21-2010
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Suzanne

I'm glad you think I'm on the right track with this workout and interested to hear that it comes straight from the fountainhead. The 1000 yard/meter practice sounds enticing but I don't think my pace is fast enough to do it all in the available time - although since I did two 500s today and some extra backstroke it might be possible. The four hundreds at the end would probably tax the ability to hold good form, though.

I don't think there many yards pools left in Britain now so we are all in meters as a rule. All competition is in meters, anyway.

I have found in the last few days that, just as in a distance race, it is a bad idea in this workout to go out too fast. Better to go out slightly too slow and gradually increase the pace.
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Old 07-21-2010
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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Richardsk
Default Speaking of going out too fast...

I just found this amazing footage on youtube of Kieren Perkins swimming to gold in the 1500m at the 1996 Olympics. He obviously didn't go out too fast, because he maintained his pace all the way to the end, but what an amazing example of high arm turnover! The video quality is not quite as good as more recent stuff and there is not much underwater footage but he appears to have a two-beat kick with possibly some pauses in it. I quickly rushed out to get the tempo trainer and as far as I can match the beeps to his arm cadence it seems to be about 0.67 per stroke. No help from magic suits either!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPmkY...eature=channel
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