Counting stroke, necessary? Hmmm, not always ;-)
Inpsired by a wonderful clip found on Doc Suzanne's superbe website and channel - which deals about the importance of being aware of your stroke count - I thought I'd share a very simple tip that could work with some of you.
I don't count strokes, it ain't necessary. My DPS when fit is very consistent, it doesn't vary much.
If I flip on the left arm, early into a set, that is 14 strokes. It can not be 12 (I'm not good enough), and it's certainly not 16. If I flip on the right arm, that's 15, as it can not be 13, and 17 for me is getting close to disaster. If I flip on left later in some set, and don't feel like my shoulder will pop out of its socket, then I'm pulling 16, not 14. And normally I will remain 16. Can no longer go down to 14, and I never pull 18 (except for those days where I tried EVF, that's another story).
Depending on the scenario, this tip may require a bit adjustments (ie, in a 1500 flat out race, flipping on right arm means 17, as I shorten my stroke on purpose, to avoid having to pull too big of a gear). But the bottom line is that we always start pulling with the same hand.
That works if your SL is consistent though, until you reach this point, counting remains your best bet. A SwimSense does an excellent job at reporting your swim graphically etc, but that info becomes available only when you get back home, which is not very handy to make real time adjustments...
Il n'est pas nécessaire, mais je le recommande
As usual, you make good points. I would still highly recommend especially to swimmers not used to counting strokes to first develop the habit until it becomes second nature. Like yourself, I know that my range for faster swimming is between 14 - 16 SPL in a 25m pool. Counting has become so ingrained and I have swum enough laps to know how many strokes I have taken just by what arm I take my last stroke with, as you suggest.
However, while coaching several triathletes this summer, it took me a few sessions of "4321" and swim golf before they started to get the hang of counting all the time. Especially at the beginning of learning new technique, it can be surprising how much difference there can be in stroke count from one length to the next. Several of the swimmers who started with SPL from 24 got down to 16/17 by the end of summer, but they really had to focus to become consistent
Even when we have no TT or pace clock, counting strokes will give us some idea of how well or poorly we are doing.
By the way, as a former Montrealer, it was nice to see the background of the Olympic pool at Île Sainte-Hélène in one of your videos. I saw the World Swimming Championships there and love training there when we visit family.
Hey Ian, you do that too? How cool. Provides fun info, gives you an insight about your current level of fatigue (ie, when those 14s lengths are rare and that you drift toward 17), etc, all the time that is as you no longer have to count.
But I agree for sure, this is not for a) those who have a larger wide variation of dps and b) those who haven't gone through the process of counting first.
Hey, one other interesting thing that's not often said about counting stroke, is that very often, it ain't a matter of counting stroke or even being aware, as we both are, of our stroke count, but rather to start managing the glide prior flipping.
Because before loosing a full stroke, you start loosing fraction of it. And there it's the time to try and react. Because some time gets lost gliding prior flipping as a result of poor dps management.
In fact live in a race, where you may need to take tactical decision as per dps, this is the most important aspect as it can get you to become proactive, ie react by self adding a stroke per length before really becoming tired trying to save the actual stroke count, or focusing on technique or push off the wall torpedo in order to avoid loosing that stroke.
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