Efficacy of TI form in rough water
What do you think of Dave Scott stroke rates theory ?
Can TI work in choppy/Rough water or is it for pools and flat water ?
It's More Complicated than Stroke Rates
The Swim Smooth interview with Dave Scott is designed to advance Swim Smooth's coded (they never mention TI by name but accuse us of teaching 'overgliding' and infer the technique we teach is not effective in OW) criticism of TI as being speed-limiting and not adapting well to rough conditions.
However the case they make is always anecdotal, not evidentiary. For instance, Dave Scott talks a lot about swimmers in his training group who use high stroke rates (80 strokes per minute) and have been successful in triathlon. Like Joanna Zeiger.
The problem with using her as an anecdotal example is that she was an All-American swimmer in high school and college before taking up triathlon. It tells you something about the technical demands of swimming--compared to the two land sports--that a high percentage of professional triathletes, like Joanna, had the advantage of spending years cultivating swim skills and body control and kinesthetic awareness.
Among age groupers, 95% come to the sport with no swimming skills or experience. That's enough of a challenge in the pool. In OW--and particularly rough water--that challenge is raised exponentially.
It makes about as much sense to suggest that someone with little swim experience try to swim like Joanna Zeiger as it would to tell a Driver's Ed class to drive like Tony Kanan, winner of the 2013 Indy 500.
So the question anyone watching this video should ask isn't whether a high stroke rate is appropriate for someone like Joanna Zeiger, but rather is it appropriate for YOU.
One cost of making that choice is that your heart rate goes way up when you do so. And--unless you have a high skill level--'spending' heartbeats in the water is terribly wasteful. Heartbeats are worth 2 to 3x as much on land in terms of the speed increase they produce. Your swim may be a little slower, but your final time will be MUCH faster if you save energy for cycling and running.
As for the question of whether TI Technique is efficacious in rough water, I think this video provides a far more persuasive answer than two guys standing on a pool deck jawboning about questionable theories. Everyone around me is stroking faster, pulling harder and kicking more. But I cut through the field like a knife through butter. This swim earned me an 8th place medal at the Masters World Championship race in 2006, when I was 55.
'nuff said - let's look for waves
That pretty well summarized it, Terry!
I'm closing my laptop and heading to the beach, for some Open Water swimming!
It clearly shows dozens of swimmers in my vicinity pulling and kicking harder and stroking faster and getting nowhere, while I cut through the waves with a long, smooth, relatively unhurried TI stroke. Considerably more empirical than two guys on a pool deck trading theories about high-rate swimming.
However I can well understand how inconvenient it would be for you to acknowledge this.
Your video is evidence that you swim faster than swimmers who are slower than you. So what? How did you get behind them in the first place? Why don't you show video of you swimming against swimmers who are faster than you?
The 2006 USMS Open Water results are a matter of public record. See
Probably the race featured a staggered start because of 600 + swimmers.
Terry Laughlin finished 8th in the 55-59 age group with a time of 48:44. That was 2 minutes 44 seconds behind the winner in 46:00. Terry's place was 146.
Interestingly, the 55-59 women's winner was Laura Val in 46:37. The first finisher in the men's 60-64 category finished in 46:25 and second place in 60-64 was 48:43.
It is a bit of a stretch to say results in one open water race actually PROVE anything but most people can agree that Terry Laughlin's swim in that race was a special achievement. mjm
I applaud Terry for his 8th-place finish at 2006 FINA Masters, but it is beside the point. My point is (using your words):
Wait a minute! Should all humans now swim like Joel Wilson, because he beat Terry at FINA Worlds??!!
Wait a minute! Another six 55-59-year old men beat Joel Wilson at that same race! What do they swim like?
I am so confused!
Goodness, such bitterness.
I think the habit of chopping up a coherent argument into line-by-line rebuttal is one of the foulest and least productive abuses of the language that has been forced on the world by the internet. Hence, you have largely missed his point.
Terry's achievements don't prove you should swim like him. They DISPROVE the claim that to swim well in open water you must swim with a high stroke rate. SS makes a universal claim, only a single counter-example is necessary to disprove a universal.
It's about finding the correct stroke for the individual. Swimsmooth concentrates on the elite athlete end of the market for their role-models and suggests very strongly that what's good for elite athletes is good for everyman. Terry wants to bring good technique to swimmers of all athletic abilities.
Paul's extraordinary achievement of swimming MIMS in 7h was achieved at 70spm. And in fact in the Swimsmooth public world anything less than 70spm is regarded as heinous. They seem to grudgingly accept that 60 may be okay since that's what Sun Yang manages to set world records at. But only in the pool; in open water you still have to churn like crazy.
Your request for evidence that an increased stroke rate leads to an increased heart rate must surely have been made in a heated moment.
I do believe that at the moment the public TI literature does have a weakness in that it tends to radically de-emphasise that at some point if you are going to go faster you are going to have to increase your stroke rate. But I'm sure that is about to be remedied very soon with Terry's new books. It's certainly not something that any of the TI coaches I've met have ever had any doubt about, quite the contrary.
In real-world face-to-face coaching there is almost no difference in the specific points for improvement that a Swimsmooth or TI coach (or indeed any coach who comes through more traditional coaching schools but operates at a very high level) would make after video analysis for the "smooth" type swimmers.
The two methods are very different in their general approach however, with the TI style being far more suited to some people and the Swimsmooth much easier to adapt to for other personalities.
No, but there is a big question (and an important one) of how to deliver self-training via books and video. Is the swimsmooth "type" system valuable or misleading? On the SS boards you see such things as "I'm a Bambino/Arnie with a touch of Overglider." Seriously - how is that helpful?
Conversely - are TI self-coaching methods universally applicable because they are easy to individualise or do they just lump everyone into one type and are not even as good as the SS six categories?
When you put a good SS or TI coach in the pool with someone those self-coaching questions become irrelevant, but they are not irrelevant in the broader context.
There is a quick fix for self-taught TI over-gliders and it breaks down into a handy 5-word phrase. "Now swim a bit faster." All the technique still applies. But SS recipe for swimming faster over longer distances is the very traditional Swim Club sets and repeats.
Terry de-emphasises this (because honestly it is horrible for many people - I hate swim clubs) and instead emphasises a calm and steady improvement in technique, maintaining form whilst gradually increasing pace, and letting the fitness aspect take care of itself.
I can't swim for long at high stroke rates. I am not physically capable of it in my present condition, and I'm not sure I could ever be fit enough to sustain 80spm for more than 100m or so.
My cruising stroke rate is around 40spm. At that I managed to do my first 10K openwater swim this year in pretty choppy conditions and finish 88/265 starters.
In the pool at 40spm I swim at around 1.45/100. If I push my stroke rate up to 55spm I am swimming around 1.20/100. But I can't maintain it. Why? Well because I am simply too big and I cannot get enough oxygen into my body. My heart rate goes up (surprise surprise) and I have to stop. Swim repeats. I hate repeats, they stress me out. The only time I swim them is when the lanes get too busy and everyone else is doing them. I don't enjoy those sessions.
I have embarked upon a program to lose 20kg over the next 6 months. When I've lost that I am sure I will be able to sustain a higher stroke rate.
I fully understand if you (or indeed anyone) has no patience for, or interest in the Tao of TI, but Terry made a sincere response to a confused disciple. :)
Why does it make you so angry?
From Terry's blog:
We don’t discourage faster tempos at all. Our focus is on teaching balance, streamlining and–when it comes to propulsion–making every stroke count.
We don’t discourage our students from exploring higher stroke rates. Rather we encourage them to develop a facility to swim at a range of rates without compromising efficiency. Partly through using up to 4 different stroke counts in the pool, and partly by using a Tempo Trainer to work on rate with a specificity and precision far greater than just ‘turning over faster.’
In open water I swim with a range of rates as fast as .8 sec/stroke (about 72 SPM) and 1.2 sec/stroke (49 SPM). I work at being efficient, smooth and relaxed at each.
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