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AWP 12-01-2010 02:06 AM

IMing it
I've recently reintroduced some IM practice to my swim sessions and wanted to share what I've been doing and also invite any other suggestions or favs that others may be doing.

It's my intention to incorporate the other strokes into my regular practice and hopefully learn a little something or enhance my overall swimming.

It's my feeling this may further any insights and help in my relationship with the water and my ability to adapt to it.

Monday's practice went something like this:

Ladder set of free as: 4x50, 3x100, 2x150, 1x200 (1000 yds)
I wanted to establish a comfy spl and maintain that as the distance increased. Benchmark for the rest of the practice.

IM 4x100 (400 yds)
Reacquaint to the other strokes. 'Easy' IM, est. spl for each stroke
(avg.: BF 7, BK 15, BR 8, FR 13)

Pyramid- FR/IM inc. as:
50FR, 25BF, 100FR, 25BK, 150FR, 25BR, 200FR, 25 'perfect free' (600 yds)

This was a continuous set ( w/ open turns @ fly, bk & br).
Again I wanted to maintain spl throughout, not only on the free lengths but on the others as well (as est. on the preceding 4x100)

I then took it down as:
200FR, 50BF, 150FR, 50BK, 100FR, 50BR, 50FR, 50 'perfect free' (700 yds)

The "perfect" lengths were swum at a very deliberate pace (a cool way of saying slowly) focusing on the three major aspects of TI swimming, balance-streamlining-effective propulsion, while holding SL and breathing every 3.

Although the sets were intended for a continuous flow I did pause on occasion, usually when I came up short on a length and needed to continue ('calibrate') my breathing rhythm.

2x50FR + 100FR
100 IM (300 yds)
Picking up the tempo in free while holding within 1-2 of original spls on all.

I then focused on each stroke separately and timed each length to note for future use.
Easy IM as:
2x25BF @ 7spl :26-:27
2x25BK @ 14-16spl :25-:26
2x25BR @ 7-8spl :30-:31 (major Kaizen opportunity)
2x25FR @ 14spl :20-:19 (200 yds)

I noted I was able to sustain the same spls for each stroke throughout the entire practice even hitting 12 on a few initial free lengths and 6.5 on a couple of fly.
I finished with:
2x50 'perfect free' (100 yds)

Total 3300 yds (90 min.)

What I hope it teaches me (through another 'point of view')
* better sense of core stability
* better awareness of balance
* heightened awareness of drag, thus
* an enhanced ability to streamline
* further mastery of breathing control and timing and its relationship to above aspects.

Incidentally, I did feel that by managing the 'same' breathing rhythm through each stroke in the main set I was able to hold spls for each with relative ease. The payoff will be when I can do this automatically and at quicker tempos.
Anyway, a fun way to 'mix it up'. Give it a try and let's hear what you think!

terry 12-01-2010 09:33 AM

I Love IM Practice
Like Alan, I'm thoroughly enjoying the addition of an IM focus in my training right now. Here's how it fits in and what I get out of it:
1) As I will turn 60 in 3+ months I've been thinking about my performance goals in the 60-64 age group. My top priority is to swim well in 1 mile to 5k Open Water events (though I will also race at distances up to 10k and am even contemplating the USMS 25K championship race, which is held every other year.) I find that I swim better and place higher in open water races, starting in June if I have swum good pool times in Masters meets from March through May.
2) Because my focus will be almost exclusively on crawl/freestyle for OW season, I want to balance that relatively narrow focus by doing a lot more training and racing in shorter and non-free events during the winter and spring pool-racing season. To keep my sense of purpose-and-urgency at a high level I set performance goals in events like 200-400 IM and 200s in the three other strokes. I especially love racing the 400 IM in Masters events because it requires so many skills. Not just the ability to swim with reasonable efficiency in 4 different strokes, but the ability to swim a good 100 Breast AFTER swimming 100 Fly + 100 Back. I.E. How you combine the strokes is even more important than how you swim them individually and not easy to master.
3) Having a different set of challenges and goals during Jan through
early May allows me to maintain a high level of mental freshness and focus as the calendar moves to June through early Sept and I shift to new goals and the new challenges they present.

terry 12-01-2010 11:47 AM

Now a few comments on Alan's practice. First, it's a great example of finding a clear Mastery-focused purpose for every set. Nothing in there is about 'getting the yards in' or the kind of artificial 'variety' you see in more conventional training where coaches give items like Reverse IM purely to relieve tedium. By artificial variety I mean a set that's simply Different, yet does nothing to prepare you for racing by honing a skill or helping you figure out a solution to a problem you actually need to solve to race well. Since you never swim an IM race in reverse order, there's nothing to be gained in swimming the strokes in reverse order simply for 'variety.'

In planning this practice, Alan has thought about the actual challenges he would face in swimming an IM race and come up with creative ways to practice solving them.

Easy IM - In setting a clear intention of experiencing ease, Alan recognizes that if you can't swim the 25, 50 or 100 Fly at the start of an IM race with a combination of ease and reasonably good pace, the other three strokes will suffer. To a slightly reduced extent, the same is true of the BK and BR.

Racing strategy in a 400m/500y Free for instance is pretty clear. If you have any racing experience in them, you have a clear idea of how you need to balance effort/pace/freshness at various points. Your need to do so when swimming 4 different strokes is just as great but the challenge of solving that need is far greater.

So you do need to "practice ease" in each stroke and patiently/incrementally find ways to improve the pace you can generate in each stroke even while continuing to practice ease. I place a higher priority on that than I do on training to accustom myself to the discomfort that comes with greater effort.

Virtually the entire mainstream of swimming focuses on getting accustomed to discomfort. Learning to perform better in an effort-less (by which I literally mean less - not no - effort) state requires a much more intense focus. I.E. You're replacing physical energy with mental energy -- which is much more sustainable/renewable.

For quite a few years I thought of, or described, effort levels with language like Easy, Cruise, Brisk etc. In just the last two months I've made those thoughts more concrete.
Easy = Balancing thoughts and sensations. I'm seeking a sense of lightness, weightlessness,support in head, torso and limbs
Cruise = Streamlining thoughts and sensations. I'm seeking as sense of piercing the water with my lead arm, of fitting torso and legs through a smaller space or of lengthening my bodyline.
Brisk = Propelling thoughts and sensations. I'm seeking a sense of having a firm hold on the water, some degree of pressure in hands and forearms and using weight shift and kick to propel me past that firm grip.

Here's my practice from Monday to illustrate:

2600yds @ SUNY
Set #1 Free

3 rounds of 4 x 50 on :50
1-4 Balance Thoughts :45-:44
5-8 Streamline Thoughts :43-:42
9-12 Propel Thoughts :41
4 rounds of 4 x 75 on 1:15
1-4 Balance Thoughts :65
5-8 Streamline Thoughts :63-:62
9-12 Propel Thoughts :61-:59
13-16 25 Balance, 25 Streamline, 25 Propel :62

Set #2 IM
4 rounds of
25 FL on :30 Avg 22+
50 FL-BK on :60 Avg 49
75 FL-BK-BR on 1:30 Avg 1:18
100 IM on 2:00 Descend 1:39-1:35
Goal is to keep 25-50-75 consistent on SPL and time throughout set, but descend the 100s.
Balance and Streamlining thoughts on 25-50-75. Work in Propel Thoughts progressively (starting with last 25) to descend the 100s.

Richardsk 12-01-2010 12:59 PM

One day I may be able to swim a 200m or even a 400m IM but for the present all I can manage is a 100m IM, in which it is not uncommon to be disqualified in the fly leg for failure to recover the arms properly (my left arm drags in the water). Sometimes, probably when the stroke judge is lenient or of a kind-hearted disposition, I manage to record a time and my times have improved over the last few years from over three minutes to about two minutes and a half.

I had an interesting conversation about fly at my most recent meet with a young lady who is a good butterflier, and her view was that the failure to get the arms out of the water properly was not connected with arm strength or flexibility but with core strength and timing of the undulation. I thought her diagnosis made sense, so I have been trying to improve my undulation and doing lots of breaststroke arms with fly legs, one-arm fly and upside down dolphin kicking for backstroke, and even some front crawl with dolphin kick. It is too early to tell if this is having any effect on my butterfly but I figure that it can't do any harm and is enjoyable. Oddly, although it is my left arm that drags when I swim full-stroke fly, I am faster and swim with more ease when I swim one-arm fly with the left arm. I am right-handed but breathe to the left in freestyle (still working on the right side breathing and making some progress with the drill of superman glide transitioning to skate on left side). My right shoulder has slight stiffness, probably as a result of an old Judo injury, so perhaps strengthening the right arm and increasing its flexibility will help to solve the problem.

It would be really wonderful to swim a 400m IM long course, but of course that must wait for progress in the butterfly.

terry 12-01-2010 08:52 PM

I've never attempted a LC 400 IM but will be swimming a SCM 400 IM this Sunday at Coral Springs FL (as well as 800m Free and 200m IM on Sat and the 400m Free on Sunday) I am nowhere near what some call "race fitness" and therefore my times will probably be slow-ish. However I'm relatively unconcerned about the times I will record. I will simply consider them information about my current pace-holding capacity in those events.
More important information will be how I arrive at whatever times I swim. I'll be doing this event as a test of the efficacy of using Balance, Streamline and Propel thoughts as the framework for a race plan, and how each change in intention affects my SPL and pace. It should be a most interesting experience. I'll post a report here afterward.

Today's IM-oriented practice. There was only 40 min left in open swim when I arrived at the pool at 1:20 pm.I felt as if this practice packed a lot of useful experience and neural tuning into that short period.

Wed Dec 1 1650 yds @ SUNY
400 (x100 IMs) Balance Thoughts SPL=8+16+8+13

4 x 25 on :35 @ 7 SPL Avg :23 sec
25 EZ
2 x 50 on 1:10 @ 8SPL Avg :48 sec
25 EZ
4 x 25 on :35 @ 8 SPL Avg :22 sec
25 EZ
2 x 50 on 1:10 @ 9 SPL Avg :46 sec
25 EZ
4 x 25 on :35 @ 9 SPL Avg :21 sec.
25 EZ

4 x 25 on :35 @ 14 SPL Avg :23 sec
25 EZ
2 x 50 on 1:10 @ 14+15 SPL Avg :47 sec
25 EZ
4 x 25 on :35 @ 15 SPL Avg :22 sec
25 EZ
2 x 50 on 1:10 @ 15+16 SPL Avg :44 sec
25 EZ
4 x 25 on :35 @ 16 SPL Avg :21 sec.
25 EZ

I got some inspiration for these sets of 25s and 50s from Alan's practice.
My plan was to start each round with a low SPL on the first set of 25s, then increase SPL on the 50s that follow. Use the SPL from the 50s on the next set of 25s, then raise again on the next set of 50s, etc.

I tried to swim as fast as I was capable @ that SPL on each set of 25s, then lighten the pressure a bit on the 50s by letting SPL rise and feel I was swimming at a sustainable pace. Then repeat that pattern.

AWP 12-22-2010 01:54 AM


Originally Posted by terry (Post 15164)
2600yds @ SUNY
Set #1 Free

3 rounds of 4 x 50 on :50
1-4 Balance Thoughts :45-:44
5-8 Streamline Thoughts :43-:42
9-12 Propel Thoughts :41
4 rounds of 4 x 75 on 1:15
1-4 Balance Thoughts :65
5-8 Streamline Thoughts :63-:62
9-12 Propel Thoughts :61-:59
13-16 25 Balance, 25 Streamline, 25 Propel :62

Set #2 IM
4 rounds of
25 FL on :30 Avg 22+
50 FL-BK on :60 Avg 49
75 FL-BK-BR on 1:30 Avg 1:18
100 IM on 2:00 Descend 1:39-1:35
Goal is to keep 25-50-75 consistent on SPL and time throughout set

I mimicked parts of this practice last week and share them as a part of my logging routine from time to time.

I only did the 50s on the free set and in addition to B/S/P, kept a focus of holding spl throughout. My results:
3@ 4x50 on 1:00 -:50
1-4 :46 - :43
5-8 :43 -:42
9-12 :41 -:38
I couldn't break :41 until I added a 15th and 16th stroke on at least one of the lengths.

On the IM set:
4@ 25-50-75-100
25 FL avg. :25
50 FL-BK avg. :45
75 FL-BK-BR avg. 1:25
100 IM avg. 1:45

I forgot about descending the 100s so my only focus there was to keep spl. I also took an average of :30 rest between repeats.

My PFI is to first keep this consistent, then make it 'easier', then improve on the consistency first by shortening rest then improving time; all while maintaining ease. B/S/P focus will come into play big time.

AWP 01-14-2011 02:32 AM

All 2s
Only had approx. 30-35 min. to swim today so test ran a 'cutie'.
Thursday Jan, 13 YMCA 25 yd pool (1650)
4 x 50 + 2 x 100 + 200 (1:00 per 50 interval)
descend each repeat, descend entire set.
(50 FR 'perfect form', wipe the mental slate)

2 @ 4 x 25 (100IM)
on first round establish spl, on second maintain; focus was on balance throughout.

200 FR

4 x 50 (200IM)
each 50 on 1:10 interval; focus on streamline and rhythm. Stay within one of established spl.

2 x 100 FR

2 @ 4 x 25 (100IM)
focused on 'good' streamlining throughout, on second round let it be faster; hold length and try to up tempo smoothly.

Descended 200s FR
(added ez 50 at the end, wipe the mental slate, hopefully hold 'good' muscle memory)

I used to talk myself out of a 30 min. swim, not anymore.

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