Thanks so much for your help thus far.
I will keep you inform of how things go, as I should see her some time next week.
In the mean time, the case described in this thread is solved. I shall go with Aquanex, ie purchasing it.
However I save this important contact as a reference for serious testing, more specifically on testing aimed at managing (eliminating) drag resistance.
Back to the original post...
A few thoughts about this...
Thought number one
The human swimming problem is that:
1. We can neither breathe underwater nor hold our breath very long whilst exercising.
2. We don't have fins.
Thought number two
Front crawl is only a recent invention. It is probably very easy for a champion breast-stroker to swim as slowly as they like - everything from pootling along next to a granny to flat out racing.
A horse cannot gallop slowly. A race horse's minimum speed at a gallop is different to the minimum gallop speed of a Shetland Pony. So my contention is that it is simply that with different physiology and different streamlining each person has a "comfort zone" with front crawl that has a minimum and maximum speed.
Thought number three
The absolute fastest a human can swim as far as I know is completely underwater doing the backstroke dolphin kick. Why this is not permitted in "Freestyle" is a mystery to me.
Thought number four
Is Michael Phelps a better human swimmer than Tanya Streeter? I personally think not. I certainly know who I'd rather watch. :) Check out the BBC documentary videos of her swimming with sharks and whales. Availability online depends on your region, but most can be seen on youtube.
Thought number five
As I have been swimming longer distances I have realized my shoulders cannot cope with the higher speeds. I have had to adjust my stroke to cope with greater distances. And it's slower, a deeper spear and a more gentle catch but at the end of 4km I am not hurting and don't hurt the next day.
I'm sure that could be improved by having bigger hands, or thicker wrists, or being taller, or mostly by losing 20kg, but I have the body I have.
Thought number five
A few weeks ago I was swimming next to a swimmer that was doing maybe 1.25/100 pace. Thing is he couldn't swim. He could barely make a length. His stroke wasn't much better than doggy paddle. But he about 25 years old, was 6'6" with incredibly broad shoulders, lean, powerful, huge hands and very long arms. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to coach him or just shoot him.
Swimming my stroke he would have been doing under 1.00/100. Cest la vie.
charles, very interesting thoughts on speed.
would it be as difficult to get slow swimmers to swim as fast as elites, as it would be to get the latter to slow down comfortably?
does the bridge to this gap exist, or are they two worlds apart?
i'm a relative beginner to swimming and TI (2:20m/100m - try that, u elites!) and my early thoughts on this is the speed is capped largely physiologically, with a smattering of personality. ie fast swimmers are born, not made.
what led me to this thinking is my personal experience. i'm currently training with a bunch of wannabe triathletes. We couldnt swim well prior to TI, (except for one of us). TI brought vast improvements in our ability to last the course, but even a year on, the most improved one managed to shave only 15s off his initial 2min/100m timing. The common background among us is we used to do sports very regularly (mostly rugby,soccer and handball in amateur leagues) until we decided, due to age, that we need to do something less strenous, so that's how we discovered triathlons and subsequenly TI. (btw We also found that we have great difficulty keeping our feet up in the water). Its this that led me to believe (hopefully wrongly) that there is only so much that you can do if you are of a certain physiological profile. whatever techniques you employ will only bring marginal improvements to speed.
At the other end of the scale are the elites with the ideal body profile, who, as Craig above observed, goes a lightning 1:10min/100m even dog-paddling! so common in the elite world.
i guess this thinking would be shattered if either of these happens:
an elite does a real slow lap
a slow swimmer (one who starts off above 2:00m/100 AFTER TI) halves his time within a year with proper technique
back to the one in our group who could swim well prior to TI. He swam a lot as a kid, but gave up when he kept missing out on podiums at age-group races, and switched to other sports. It struck me as a natural selection process that sorts out people with the right shape. That's my thoughts. Also, when i mean physiology, its not just limited to the obvious features such as height and width but also stuff like bone density, fast twitch muscles etc. a science i think the former east germans and chinese have mastered when they selected kids for gym/swim olympic schools.
summary: i think the fast can't swim slow and vice versa because we are born that way. c'est comme ca. *shrugs*
I believe it's possible to slow an elite down to these paces, and I *dream* of recording what their force requirement will then be to move at these paces. I also wish I will die believing that it's possible to take just about any one (young age) to a high level of performance in the pool. I refuse to believe that it's impossible to untie the mystery that - as of now - bring a lot of people to believe that you can not reach a high level of performances unless you started off at early age.
Em I, with a pb over 100m free that's just slightly below 60sec, considered fast? I often use myself as very good example of upper limit of athletic mediocrity. With a poor vo2max and very bad articulation, I wasn't born to swim under 55 over 100m free. In that sense, fast swimmers are born, not made. But I'm bad at just about everything though.
- Proprioception (ability to perform perfect gestures)
- Flexibility (ability to have the range of motion required to easily perform those gestures)
- Feel for water (ability to turn these gestures into something productive propulsion wise using anchor points)
- Neuromuscular specific adaptation (from central nervous system component down to the actual working muscles)
I believe that anyone that can match an elite swimmer in these department will be swimming fast. How many slower athletes are actually stretching every day? How many slower swimmers still are taking private lessons with no video (underwater) support?
Now on a philosophical note, well I'm a huge fan of these new approaches to learning how to swim, TI, SS et al. But in the back of my mind, I also belong to the traditional world somewhat, and until I don't fully understand swimming, I will continue believing that the process under which children usually go through to become swimmers remain the best possible process to achieve fast performances. Among other things, most kids learn to swim fast, before swimming long. So sprinting will remain a very very important component for me in trying to bring the adult to par with your natural born swimmer.
My fastest guy at the mo began at age 17 (which is atypical). You can tell... He's not as natural as a guy same talent that had began much earlier. But still, he has some national standards etc...
For those interested into these matters:
A number of things (one leading to the other) has allowed me to establish a great collaboration with an outstanding physiologist. The sort of guy that sits in your Spinning class room for years, that remains low profile, in spite of holding a Ph.D in exercise physiology (which is quite rare in this part of the country), and who has migrated to teach medicine/pharma sort of physiology.
I had to use his precious advices among other things to establish cycling testing protocols etc... This morning was our last spinning session of the season. We were casual chatting in the locker room and he mentioned something absolutely striking.
This could lead me to believe that there's some truth in this sort of statement:
The point that the physiologist brought to my attention this morning is in regards to studies on genetics. He's well passed the point to remain motivated with exercise physiology. He now teaches physiology of germs, bacterias, teaches a bit of genetics etc...
He mentioned that *they* (these guys you know) are currently researching on the genetic modification that one can experience throughout his own life. OK, let me step back a bit further. One day I listen to a documentary on tv, it talks about genetics, ie more specifically about how genetic background can be altered (for better adaptation) from one generation to the next. That was kind of new. We had long thoughts that the human being was the product of adaptation, but long term adaptation. In the documentary, a lady in a developing world had wide big female hips. Like normal hips. But she had suffer malnutrition all her life. Since she had been underfeed all her life, her daughter was born with much narrower hips. That was an example of genetic modification taking place from one generation to the next.
Now they're studying about this sort of adaptation that can take place, at the genetics level, but within one single life.
They've found out that some genes had their gene expression (epigenetics) modified as a result of early childhood behavior. It may as well be that beginning sports, in our case swimming, at early age could trigger changes in one's epigenetics.
The example the physiologist first used as an example was studies on the impact (epigenetics) on breastfeeding. My intention is not to trigger a debate here, or to tell women what to do. They've found out that they've found out that people that were breastfed did react better to stress hormones such as catecolamine hormones and cortisol, etc...
This could partly explain why it's so difficult to match natural born swimmers' performance level if you were unfortunate enough to miss the train at earlier age.
As I mentioned before (with the violin analogy) that practice, correct, mindful practice using good form, balance etc., that is, will lead to subtle but noticeable changes over time. By the way, practice incorrectly and a person has to overcome this ingraining of the neur system blunder for frustrating hours relearning it right! At any rate the more the hours I had found the greater the gains over time. It was the same with the classical guitar. I played the guitar for 5 years until a teacher got a hold of me and lead me. With the guitar it was the same: several weeks of half hour to hour a day would not show the proportionate gains as the weeks that I'd lock myself in my room and play for 2-5 or more hours a day. Many years later now in my mid-40s people think that it is a gift...not so much when I attest to the thousands of hours under my belt. So I believe in the time in for change to happen really matters!
So I think still the same with the swimming; or so I'll see.
But the early training theory has some real merit I think as it is true that my mother was an accomplished pianist and literally was playing to me and all us four siblings in the womb. So all my brother and sisters play and sing, lots of fun and very rewarding. One thing I will say is that my mom taught me how to practice and how to listen to music for what was in it. So she structured a pattern for us to follow. Plus she would play into the night sometimes and basically we were immersed in it our whole lives.
Couple that with your point and other thoughts are that we know that there is a childhood link to swimming ability when started at an early age.
Also keep in mind that children it is proven can more easily learn a second or third language than as we age.
My thought is that it all adds up to a very practical application understanding, not so much but some for the genetics, but so much more for the nurture I'd say. Now we are into psychology and mind you, I'm just taking some interesting but not definitive angles, but inductively it makes sense to me.
Anyway, just some thoughts.
Last week I witnessed an amazing display of deliberate practice. One of my swimmers, been workign wiht him for a year now, half iron, ironman athlete. Swimming is very difficult for him...he kicks only (and loudly) with his left foot for both right and left arm entry. His right leg does no work at all. I'm not even sure how he moves forward.
Last week I insisted that he find his right leg in the pool. He said he cant even feel what it's doing while he swims. So I told him to swim 25 yards focusing ONLY on his right leg kicking and left arm entering simultaneously.
He pushed off the wall and took one stroke then glided (he's not a glider...he was thinking). I saw another big splash then nothing (he's still face down in the water). Finally one more SPLASH and then he stopped. Stood up and put his face in again. SPLASH pause...thinking. SPLASH.
I got distracted by another swimmer then heard SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH all the way back on his return trip. I looked and he had created his own drill kicking ONLY with the right leg and stroking ONLY with the left arm. He decided to force himself to learn it.
I was pleased not so much with the end result of his swimming, but with his thinking process...he knew he was not a natural and he created his own drill, he had stopped and thought and he had begun the process of sorting this out in his own mind. I guess what surprised me was what he said when he arrived back at my end.
"I can't do it".
After all that work and thought, his decision was "I can't". Had he been working alone, or from a book or following a training plan online for his race, he would NEVER explore these opportunities for exporation of his stroke. He's a fraid he'll lose too much time and fitness. What he doesn't realize is that he's going to be able to go faster with literally half as much energy as he is currently using.
It frustrates me to have to spend my energy "Forcing" someone who wants to improve to experiment with his stroke. But it's a different mindset of possibility that he is just starting to open up to.
Anway I thought it somewhat relevant to the themes here of missing the early swim gene-turn-on opportunities. He's very similar ot another swimmer in my masters group...both fantastic runners. This fellow just ran a sub 1:30 Half Ironman run last weekend after a 45 minute swim. Such a disparity!!
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