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  #21  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I have no argument with you. Watch Janet swim. her head comes way out of the water with every stroke and slams back in the water. This is wasted movement. Why wasn't it corrected? I can't speak for any of her coaches. Maybe it's far better than it was when she was young. Maybe it's a necessary byproduct of her stroking style. Maybe it's because she's fast. Arguing WHY when niether of us were part of her development doesn't is not a useful pathway of discussion.

I'm simply making on observation about her swim. She is very Effective in the water. Her work translates to speed. Maybe correcting head placement affected her stroke negatively...saved energy (more efficient), but went slower...who knows.

Efficiency is a different measure, being simply a measure of work in/work out in terms of forward movement.

Elite athletes generally have high VO2 max...but that doesn't mean that 100% of the oxygen being taken up by their muscles contributes to forward movement (a measure of efficiency).

In general, athletes with genetically high Vo2 max have a lot more room for error in that they can remain inefficient (wasted O2 applied to non-propulsive movement) while still being effective (oxygen applied to energy production contributing to forward movement). This is magnified in swimming as compared to cycling or running because of the unique challenges presented by the water.

The less elite the athlete, the more important efficiency becomes. The higher the VO2, the more aerobic energy production relative to body mass can be applied to forward movement.

Take 2 swimmers Sam & Bill. Sam's VO2 is high at 60 and Bill's is average at 40 ml/kg/min of O2. Bill has never been really fast so he spends a lot of time working on an efficient stroke and as a swimmer has developed a relatively high efficiency of 8%. Sam has always been pretty good and as a result, never worried as much about technque...and instead focused all his training on aerobic/energy ssytem development. His efficiency in the water is 6%.

Sam's body uses 3.6ml/kg/min of O2 to move forward. But Bill, who is 33% more efficient, is only using 3.2 ml/kg/min of O2 to create forward progress.

Sam never has to work nearly as hard as Bill at improving his technique because he's always been faster than Bill. Even if Bill improved to a Phelps like efficiency of 9%, he's only just now matching Sam's use of O2 to create forward movement.

When the difference in efficiency in swimming makes such a dramatic difference...ranges of 3-9% (increases of 200% from one extreme to the other), the training and stroke styles of elite vs. amateur athletes can be drastically different.

The "99%" MUST always be working on efficiency in order to improve. the "1%"ers can just keep swimming and keep being fast with 'pretty good' technique.

Here is a paper discussing a similar phenomenon in pro cyclists. Those with lower VO2 max had higher efficiency to make up for what they lacked in Vo2. Those with higher Vo2s had lower efficiency: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12471319

translate those ideas to amateur swimmers...we have no other choice but to ALWAYS be focusing in maximizing our efficiency. A very small number of us will continue to be fast...just because...we are genetically lucky. I'm convinced this is why the prevalance of HTFU exists in triathlon. There are a number of elite amateur/pro triathletes who are fast swimmers MOSTLY because they've got good enough efficiency combined with very high aerobic potential...they never had to worry about the finer points of head placement while breathing. HTFU and you'll get faster...doesn't work for most of us, but it's a sexy proposition...
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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

  #22  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swim2Bfree View Post

Again, a fundamental misunderstanding of Swim Smooth.

Yet the one most triathletes are left with. Perhaps swim smooth suffers from it's own set of misunderstandings just as TI does.
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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

  #23  
Old 12-30-2011
swim2Bfree swim2Bfree is offline
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Suzanne, I enjoyed this post and think you make some good points. I agree that aerobically talented swimmers (through genes and/or hard work) can "get away with" more flawed technique, compared to the aerobically limited.

Janet is not in this category. She is simply too fast - arguably the greatest distance swimmer in history. Whatever aspects of her technique seem unorthodox, the most parsimonious explanation is not that she "gets away with" them - but that they don't really matter.

But anyway, Janet is a side topic. We were talking about Swim Smooth. They argue that for some swimmers - especially those of shorter stature, and those who specialize in open-water - the "Swinger" style is actually more effective (for speed, if not grace) than the "Smooth" style. They argue that this is true of both elites (such as Janet) and amateurs (age-group triathletes).

This is (or seems to be) one important difference between SS and TI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Yet the one most triathletes are left with. Perhaps swim smooth suffers from it's own set of misunderstandings just as TI does.
I don't see how even a cursory reading of their materials could give rise to this misunderstanding. But it's true - TI is misunderstood, too.

Last edited by swim2Bfree : 12-30-2011 at 05:41 AM. Reason: typo
  #24  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Yes, Janet is a side topic...but I've never had any issues with her swim...i'm simply making observations about it.

I'm familiar with their contention that shorter people are better as swingers. But I don't see the direct correlation. "swinging" as swim smooth describes it, creates a lot of vectors moving a cross the body, these require eccentric muscle activity to control and avoid cross over...again reducing efficiency.

maybe because I'm simply so aerobically "average" that I mercilessly look for ways to minimize my own wasted movement, that I have little tolerance for alternatives. ;)
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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

  #25  
Old 12-30-2011
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
I have no argument with you. Watch Janet swim. her head comes way out of the water with every stroke and slams back in the water.
My understanding is that elite swimmers have four things in common, balance, streamline, great rotation and high elbow underwater.

The rest of the stroke is apparently less influential, head position, front quadrant or not, fast catch/slow catch, bilateral breathing, recovery style......

Quote:

Take 2 swimmers Sam & Bill. Sam's VO2 is high at 60 and Bill's is average at 40 ml/kg/min of O2. Bill has never been really fast so he spends a lot of time working on an efficient stroke and as a swimmer has developed a relatively high efficiency of 8%. Sam has always been pretty good and as a result, never worried as much about technque...and instead focused all his training on aerobic/energy ssytem development. His efficiency in the water is 6%.
This is one of the flaws of TI for me. We overuse the intellectual superiority of efficient swimming to avoid training up Vo2 through harder training.

I am today a very average athlete but I do remember being one of 2 guys amongst 100 girls going to daily step aerobic classes at college because I was besotted with one of the girls in the front row. After 3 months of classes I joined the YMCA gym and he measured my VO2 at 65 and said it was one of the highest readings he'd had. What's love got to do with it?

I may be wrong but my impression is that few of us on the TI forum are focused on being as VO2 fit as we can in conjunction with following our efficiency dreams.

I am going to try to address this personally in 2012 and start some cross training, heart rate sessions and eating better/planning my fluid recovery .....
  #26  
Old 12-30-2011
eddiewouldgo eddiewouldgo is offline
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More efficient technique or more fitness?

Cue Austin Powers: "Yes please!"

TI and Swim Smooth are both great systems that offer a lot of value. The novice triathlete can get everything from both of them, plus at least one weekend clinic, for less than the cost of one Zipp wheel. I'd advise anyone to begin with Total Immersion and stick with it until they are Swimming Smoothly, and then look at Swim Smooth as they become more Totally Immersed in the sport and are looking to improve their speed and swim-specific fitness.
  #27  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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It seems I'm leading people down the wrong path.

Swimming faster requires both technique and conditioning. Vo2 per se will not make you fast. Cross training with running or bike intervals to raise you vo2 will make you a faster runner or cyclist. The principal of specificity states that you need to train the sport you want the improvement in.

The ability to train a higher vo2 is limited. Everyone improves by training at a higher level of efficiency.

When swimming at the edge of your technical abilities to maintain form while swimming faster than your current comfort zone, you are building the aerobic fitness required to swim faster.

The "method for doing so is buried here in the forum posts, which highlights the single biggest difference at the moment between TI and SwimSmooth... swimSmooths website is worlds better than the TI website.

Terry and co. Need to make this information more easily accessible to those looking for it. Asl coach Dave if he thinks his rising stars should switch to SwimSmooth in order to get faster in his program...
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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

  #28  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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My reasoning for bringing up the discussion of vo2 at all was simply to highlight the inherent difficulties in trying to model our technique and training after what we see a handful of elite swimmers do. Without recognizing the differences and underlying physiology. HTFU works ok for land sports and to a small degree for swimming. But after your HTFU gains have maxed out, you'll already have devEloped shoulder problems and a stubborn stroke that is going to be very difficult for a coach to help you correct. I see it over and over and over in triathletes.
__________________
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

  #29  
Old 12-30-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddiewouldgo View Post
More efficient technique or more fitness?

Cue Austin Powers: "Yes please!"

TI and Swim Smooth are both great systems that offer a lot of value. The novice triathlete can get everything from both of them, plus at least one weekend clinic, for less than the cost of one Zipp wheel. I'd advise anyone to begin with Total Immersion and stick with it until they are Swimming Smoothly, and then look at Swim Smooth as they become more Totally Immersed in the sport and are looking to improve their speed and swim-specific fitness.
I just reread this and actually, it's a pretty funny reply. Nicely worded. :)
__________________
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

  #30  
Old 12-30-2011
terry terry is offline
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With regard to any comparison of TI and SS, I'll say the following then depart this discussion.
SS at the moment is far superior at marketing. And for that I'm grateful since they let us know where the bar is set.
TI is a vastly superior method, based on sounder principles, shaped by far more empirical experience, and focused on things that have greater value and wider resonance than how fast one swims.

(And even having said that I believe - when applied to that goal - TI teaches a demonstrably superior method [i.e. something more than arm-swinging] for realizing one's inherent speed potential. Six individual TI coaches have won a total of over 20 US Masters National Championships, three of us have ranked #1 for Long Distance/Open Water in our age groups, two of us have broken multiple National Masters age group records, and one currently holds several World Masters records. Just sayin')

And yet, for me, the truest measure isn't speed but 'endurance.' Which brand - and method -- is more likely to be familiar, current, and influential 100 years from now?

SS is currently enjoying its 15 minutes.

PS: Some might think this post defensive. I consider it righteous. ;-)
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Last edited by terry : 12-30-2011 at 03:57 PM.
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