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Old 11-11-2013
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Originally Posted by terry View Post
Find it here.
Excellent read Terry, and very accurate groups. 3%-4% describes 70%+ of triathletes, and 99% newbee triathletes. I was in the 3%-4%, triathlete - until I picked up your book (while waiting for a movie) and discovered Total Immersion. Now zipping along in the 7%-8% group, with my big toe often hooked into the 9% rim. Recently discovered some fascinating flow states and core power with long fins and 3 sec tempo - FUN! Maybe add another group "Endless Possibilities/Unlimited Potential".

Happy Swimming!


Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 11-11-2013 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 11-12-2013
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Nice works Terry!
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Old 11-13-2013
TallMariah TallMariah is offline
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Default Measuring efficiency

Hi Terry,

I like the poll - I think we inherently want to measure ourselves, especially we competitive types :-)) - and I find the descriptions fascinating but I do have some caveats that may be true for others as well.

I identify with the 7-8% text, BUT...

1) Now that I'm teaching myself TI, I'm totally rebuilding my stroke, so it doesn't feel seamless, it alternates between really satisfying and really strange, partly because it's all new, and probably also because I'm doing a lot of things wrong. So my 50+ years of feeling like I could swim forever are gone, for now, while I back up and learn this new (to me) method. Perhaps the scale should take into consideration the process of learning TI, and how that can be a setback of sorts, while one adjusts...? Or "should" TI feel instantly and enduringly effortless?

2) Perhaps more pertinently, I'm not sure the descriptions measure efficiency. at least in the higher ranges. Given that, pre-TI, I felt very at home in the water, and felt like I could swim forever (7-8%), does that mean I was swimming efficiently, or does it only mean that I really love swimming and had developed a lot of endurance? Maybe I WAS pretty darn efficient, but it doesn't seem so, through the TI lens. Surely there are happy, splashy, fairly fast, inefficient long-distance swimmers, aren't there? Didn't that describe everyone before TI came along? :-)

Just my opinion, since you asked. I suppose if you want to develop this more, you could ask us to rate ourselves on a scale of 1-5 for each of your sentences, then it might add up to a number that would reflect.. something.

Anyway, thanks for asking. Of course I'd like to be a 10! :-)
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Old 01-25-2014
codface codface is offline
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Default I need more help

Nice poll Terry,
I'd like to think I'm almost 5%. I can swim a mile at the drop of a hat but no further. I've never tried or needed to swim any further.
My problem is focus!
When I focus I'm really good then my mind wanders and I'm really bad.
What would be great is an MP3 commentary in the same way as chirunning MP3 keeps you focused, maybe some whale music with occaisional promps on TI form. LOL
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Old 01-27-2014
daveblt daveblt is offline
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After swimming TI for 19 years I would like to think I'm 9%-10% , but in reality I'll say 6%-7%

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Old 03-10-2014
dprevish dprevish is offline
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I'd have to say at a 5-6. Based especially on the criteria that it's my most comfortable form of exercise/sport. Running still holds me as far as the "flow state" as on a good day I can run and go for miles w/out feeling the need to stop or losing my groove.
I want to make swimming a 6-7...but stroke revision has turned into a longer journey than I'd expected. I will say for the record that I can get much closer to "flow state" in open water as there are no walls to interrupt, or perhaps I'm less inhibited by the surroundings, or both. I've often thought that if I lived somewhere where there was more hospitable open water and some friends that would like to go with that it would be really cool.
Dave Prevish
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Old 03-14-2014
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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It is a nice starting point to estimate ones efficiency, but the essence of efficiency is missing.
You want to take the size of your engine in account. Getting the most speed out off he power available is what you are after.
Suppose Andy Potts gets lungcancer and they take half of is lung out and replace the part with some plastic air bag.
His engine size has decreased to an avarage persons size. Now he isn’t finishing in the best 5% group anymore, but still is swimming with the same efficiency as before.
At the same time, his bycicle speed has also decreased. It seems logical that his bicycle speed has decreased about the same percentage as his swimming speed., but the relative speed difference between bycicle speed and swimming speed has remained the same.
The bycicle speed compared to the swimming speed can probably be used as an indicator of ones swimming efficiency.
If you spent the same time on your bike as in the pool, your cardiovascular and muscle energy conversion efficiency for swimming and biking should be about the same.
On the bike, you cant do much wrong getting the mechanical produced power to the ground.
In the pool, it’s a different game, like we all know. Messing things up in the pool gives you a snail pace in the water compared to your bycicle speed.
Getting everything right decreases your bycicle/swimspeed coefficient.
It is said that average swimmers (3-4%?) are bycicling 8 times faster then they are swimming.
So a 2min /100 swimpace (3km/h) takes the same effort as bycicling 3x8= 24 km/h.
If you are swimming 1.30min/100m (4km/h) at the same effort level as cycling 24 km/h you are obviously a more efficient swimmer and your coefficient has dropped to 6 (24/4=6)
Maybe a number cruncher can find out how much value there is in this approach

Last edited by Zenturtle : 03-14-2014 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 03-15-2014
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Some data of regional triathlon results gave the following spread in bikespeed/swimspeed.
Bikespeed was 7-13 times higher than swimspeed.
The bikespeed was the most reliable prediktor of overall ranking.The swimming times where all over the place.
This was the 1K swim. 40 km bike .20-39 year male.
The best relative swimmer with factor 7 did 1K at a 1.15 m/100m pace.
The worst swimmer compared against this guy with a relative swimming pace
of 13/7 x 1.15/100m pace = about 2.20m /100m pace.
I guess the factor 7 guy is in the 7% efficiency and the factor 13 guy in the 3-4% efficiency?

This method also has its weaknesses. A 90 year old can be relatively extremely fast in the pool, but can he really be a 8-9% efficient swimmer?
Compared to the 13 year old girl with a streamlined body, optimal natural balance and extreme flexibility there are limits to the efficiency the avarage person can achieve.
Luckily, we often can be a bit more mindfull than than the avarage 13 year old, not thinking about hair, makup and boys during our swims to compensate for our physical limitations.

Last edited by Zenturtle : 03-15-2014 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 05-14-2014
Anniceris Anniceris is offline
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Default I think you've got it right

I've just seen your post and I think you've got it right.

I've been using your technique since I saw your YouTube video, 'Total Immersion, Perpetual Motion', for coming up to 5 years.

I'm 55 at the beginning of June 2014 and swim between 4-5kms a few times each week. Thanks to you, I get into a zen like state very quickly and lose track of time, so much that I have to use a Garmin Swim to keep track of what I'm doing. I concentrate all the time on making every stroke and kick perfect and it seems that without effort 90 minutes pass and I stop because I'm thirsty, not tired.

I'm swimming in the fast lane with men and women much younger than I, some wearing triathlon swimming caps and am only overtaken by those doing fewer laps at high speed.

The Garmin gives me a SWOLF between 31 and 35 which I think shows you've got it right.

Thanks again so very much for the enjoyment you give me by posting on YouTube.
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Old 06-23-2014
Gehan Gehan is offline
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Originally Posted by terry View Post
This isn't strictly a poll, but I'd like to solicit input on some 'functional definitions' I've drafted for various levels of efficiency.

We know that raw-beginner swimmers are just 1% to 2% efficient and elites are 9% to 10% efficient. Virtually all of us are somewhere in the nebulous middle ground. (I intuit, for instance, that I was probably 5% to 6% pre-TI but optimistically estimate I'm now somewhere above 8% -- based on conversion of effort into locomotion.)

So this morning I drafted a functional description of efficiency. I.E. At any level of efficiency, how is it likely you experience swimming, or what capabilities are you likely to possess. Here's what I came up with.

I invite your comment on:
(i) Do these descriptions ring true?
(ii) What level of efficiency would you estimate you're at now?
(ii) What level of ultimate efficiency do you believe you can attain through resourceful, purposeful and Kaizen practice?

Efficiency Index of Human Swimmers in Crawl

1% to 2% Swimming crawl for a distance of just 25 yards or meters is exhausting, though you may be able to swim a bit farther, and with greater comfort, using breaststroke. You experience considerable difficulty and discomfort with staying afloat (you feel your legs sinking) and it’s a struggle to get enough air. Swimming is generally quite unpleasant and exhausting.

3% to 4% You can swim for a minute or two continuously. You can extend that distance--up to perhaps as much as 1500 meters—with artificial support from a pull buoy or wetsuit, or with regular rest breaks, but feel somewhat drained afterward. If you do triathlon, you spend part of the cycling leg recovering from the swim—or feel the entire rest of your race is compromised by the difficulty of the swim. Swimming faster seems too much to hope for since even slow paces are so tiring. You experience Terminal Mediocrity: No matter how much you swim, improvement seems elusive. While swimming feels like a good workout, you do it more out of obligation than because it’s enjoyable..

5% to 6% You feel quite comfortable and at ease in the water. You can swim a mile with sufficient ease that it seems plausible to complete a 5k (equivalent of a half-marathon in running) or more. You feel confident about swimming in open water. If you do triathlon, you feel quite fresh at the conclusion of the swim leg and regularly achieve a respectable, mid-pack position. Your kick and breathing both feel relaxed and controlled. . You can achieve small increases in pace with resonable effort.

7% to 8% You feel more at home in the water than anywhere else, and swimming feels better and is more satisfying than any other physical activity. Your stroke—including both catch and 2-beat kick--feels integrated and seamless up to about 85% of maximum effort and heart rate. You can swim faster, whenever you choose, with a reasonable amount of effort. Swimming a marathon distance seems completely plausible, if you devote a concentrated period of 10 to 12 weeks to preparing for it. If you compete in open water swimming (inclusive of triathlon swim legs) you regularly place in the Top 5% to 10% of your age group.

9% to 10% If you had youth and athleticism, your efficiency would probably put you among the elite. But, in middle age or beyond, you enjoy something more valuable—a sense that you swim with a skill (even artistry) and awareness shared by few. You regularly experience psychological Flow States in practice—and occasionally in competition. You virtually always feel you work with the water, even at close to maximum effort. When you lose effectiveness, it’s minor. You quickly sense its cause and can easily adjust your stroke to get back in flow. You have a clear sense of your Kaizen opportunities—no matter how subtle—and know how to achieve them. You can consistently and proportionately convert an increase in SPL or Tempo into an increase in Pace.
Terry, I would place me at the top 1%-2% level where I could not do a breadth without having to stand on the pool floor, due to the sinking of the legs. Felt out of breadth at the same time as I was dragging my legs as anchors behind me. Now I am using the wrap around type of pull buoys ( Finis) I can do a lap. But still I have the initial fear of the need to stand on the floor, I rarely do a full length. but start at the middle of the pool. I must admit I am a senior having taken to swimming only recently. I hope my leg muscle memory would remember how to keep my legs up so I could somehow hanging there. But I need to get over this and do laps without any inhibition.
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