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dogoruff 04-19-2013 03:33 PM

Advice appreciated
Dear TI-ers,

I picked up TI about a year ago but my progresss is slow because I don't get enough time in the water. I am an adult self-coached learner who picked up TI methods through your book and analysing TI videos on Youtube. I had a comfortable breaststroke but could not do freestyle at all.

I am currently doing about 19-20 strokes for a 25 meter pool on a 2 beater freestyle. And I really enjoy what freestyle has become after having learnt to swim the TI way (I hope it is the TI way).

I have two questions that I hope the TI community can help me with.

1. My lap times appear to be very slow. It takes me about 36 seconds to complete 25 meters. Is this normal? I have been stuck at this time for quite a bit.

2. Having injured my ankle a few weeks ago and torn a couple of ligaments, I was ordered to either stop swimming or to swim only with my arms (with legs trailing). As a result, I decided to continue swimming. I discovered that I could manage the same distance (25 meters) in about 22-23 strokes. Do the legs contribute such a negligible amount to propulsion? Or is there something wrong with my technique?

I would very much appreciate your views on these matters and suggestions for how to improve efficiency but also my time per lap.

Thank you all in advance.

keej01 04-19-2013 09:36 PM

not an expert
I am by no means an expert and only been practicing for less than a year. I offer my thoughts as you await their response.

1. The time is fine. Posting a video will help everyone see how to suggest improvements.

2. I think your legs are fine. The kick is a flick and anything more may lead to propulsion but also will make you more tired.

I think your good....


tpamperin 04-22-2013 06:17 PM

First, remember that a non-TI swimmer might be using 24-26 strokes for a 25 yard repeat, so you're doing well already. Then:

Depending on your height, I'd prioritize getting my SPL (strokes per length) down to somewhere under 20, maybe as far as 12-14 if you're tall-ish. Speed will follow that; I'm guessing there may be balance issues getting in your way right now.

You might try doing short repeats (25 yds) for most (or all) of your workout, focusing on extreme slow motion to stretch out as much as you can, and let your legs trail without kicking at all. This will challenge you to pay attention to subtle balance issues: how deep is your head? What direction are you looking as you swim? How deep are you spearing you arms? How close to the surface are you holding your feet? How far onto your side are you rolling? Can I let my hand enter the water without a single bubble? How relaxed is your recovering arm? You'll find certain subtle changes will result in lower SPL, then target those.

When I started to really prioritize my SPL, I would do 10 x 25 with fist gloves to start. Then I'd take the fist gloves off and do another 10 x 25 (much easier). Repeat, repeat, repeat--but always with a keen awareness of a consciously chosen focal point so you can start to notice the effects of subtle changes of motion and balance.

I'd really push this until I was at a decent SPL for my height before doing any longer repeats, even 50 yds. Then you'll want to gradually increase the distance you can manage at that same SPL. A great workout for that is Terry's:

4 x 25 at your target SPL
3 x 50 at the same SPL
2 x 75 at the same SPL
1 x 100 at the same SPL

Anytime you find yourself taking more strokes to finish a length, go back to shorter repeats. Remember, practice makes PERMANENT. That's why I'm a big believer in getting a good SPL for short repeats and gradually adding distance. That way I never practice bad form, only good.

Later you can CHOOSE to give yourself more SPL and it will seem ridiculously easy, AND you'll be going faster without effort. I'm at a good part of my own training now where this is starting to happen, and I'm convinced it's all because I focused on SPL for short repeats for so long.


tpamperin 04-22-2013 06:20 PM

You also asked about the propulsion of a kick. I find I use almost no kick at all, nor do I need one. When I do choose to add a 2-beat kick, I find I tend to kick too big and end up slower rather than faster. You might try going without the kick and just trying to focus on floating your feet high (sometimes I get the sensation of swimming downhill, which is when I know my feet have popped up and given me better balance).

Many swimmers turn in faster times with a pull buoy than when they are kicking. I'd try to duplicate that balance and ease rather than expending my energy in kicking.


tony0000 04-22-2013 11:10 PM

You initially expressed concern about your speed. 36 seconds for 25m is on the slow side. You say you're doing it in 19-20 strokes. This is just under 2 secs/stroke. That's pretty slow. I'd say if most people who are swimming faster are doing a little better on the SPL and a lot better on the stroke tempo. Try buying a Tempo trainer and using it to push up your stroke tempo while preserving your SPL.

(My sense is that intermediate TI swimmers are doing 25m at 17-18 SPL with stroke every 1.10 to 1.2 secs. What do others think?)

Good luck!


wie 04-23-2013 08:02 AM

I am a TI and freestyle beginner, too.
I started about 7 months ago.
Atm. I can swim 50 m in about 1:05 and 42-44 strokes, with concentration.
So, I am slow, too. But my goal is not to swim fast. I never will. My goal is "grace" as Terry puts it. Well ... :-)

I agree that swimming with making your hands a fist helps.

dogoruff 04-23-2013 11:05 AM

Thank you all TI-ers for replying and for your very detailed suggestions.

I am going to continue with short stroke drills as you all suggest and pay attention to balance. I noticed after my ankle injury that as I started to use my feet again that I actually felt more comfortable without the feet (with legs trailing in the water) and I am now wondering whether my problems are also related to timing the kick properly.

I am 5 foot 6 inches and so I do not know if I can manage the 12-14 SPL that you have mentioned as a target. At the moment, I'd love to break the 18 barrier which I have only crossed once and achieve 15-18 consistently. I still fluctuate between 20-21 for a 25 metre pool.

I can't find a tempo trainer in Singapore but I can try to increase my stroke rate. What i find is that as I increase the stroke rate, my SPL go up too. So I can comfortably swim a 32 sec lap but at the cost of pushing the SPL to about 25 rather than 20-21.

I'll see if I can get a video up one day. I would very much appreciate all your expertise. I try hard but it's difficult to correct things when you train alone.

Thank you all once again,

tpamperin 04-23-2013 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by dogoruff (Post 35915)
I am 5 foot 6 inches and so I do not know if I can manage the 12-14 SPL that you have mentioned as a target.


at 5' 6" your target range should be 16-19 SPL from Terry's "Secrets of Speed" youtube lectures. I'm 6' 2" so that's why my own target of 12-16 SPL was in my head. (Edit to add: it's actually 13-16 for me).


tpamperin 04-23-2013 06:45 PM


Originally Posted by wie (Post 35914)
So, I am slow, too. But my goal is not to swim fast. I never will.

You might be surprised about that. I found I emphasized SPL for so long that when I began CHOOSING to give myself an extra stroke or two per length, and working with a TT, everything felt MUCH easier, but also turned out to be MUCH faster. I expected things to feel easier at higher SPL, but I was shocked to see the extra speed.

The lesson for me was, emphasis on SPL is incredibly useful, but you won't get the speed until you start swimming at the upper end of your target range (for me that's 13-16 SPL). I had been really focused on the lower end for a long time (a couple of months, maybe). That turned out well for me.

So, swimming faster with less effort just snuck up on me while I was trying for grace. It's a wonderful feeling.


tpamperin 04-23-2013 06:51 PM


Originally Posted by tony0000 (Post 35911)
(My sense is that intermediate TI swimmers are doing 25m at 17-18 SPL with stroke every 1.10 to 1.2 secs. What do others think?)

That's an interesting question, especially for those (like me) who are entirely self-coached (I did have one lesson with Dave Cameron a year ago, but no workshops). I'd like to compare myself to others sometimes just out of curiosity (and confirmation I'm on the right track). But I'm not sure your question can be answered without more details, especially about height, since that affects SPL dramatically.

I haven't used my TT in a while, but lately on good days I've been doing repeat 100 yd swims on 2:00 (swim time 1:40 or so) at 13 SPL, at an easy cruising feel. I consider myself intermediate-ish after years of self-coaching, but I'm tall.


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