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  #1  
Old 04-05-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Default Top-End Speed vs. Sustainable Speed

During my recent sessions with USRPT training (trying to build up to a 500m swim in 7:30), I've become curious about the relationship between my fastest speed for a short distance (say 50m, or maybe 25m) and the speed I can expect to hold for longer distances--my 500m swim, yes, but also longer open-water races. For instance, it'd be fun to finish a July 2-mile swim in the low :50s, or maybe even the upper :40s (2 years ago I swam a :58).

Today I intended to swim a set of 100m repeats at race pace (1:30/100m), but ended up swimming my fastest 100m in years at 1:22 instead. I also swam my fastest 50m in years later in the session, a :37. I also swam some recovery 50m repeats at :45, which felt like a fast pace to me only a few weeks ago, but today felt easy. Clearly my recent USRPT training is having an effect on my top end speed as well as race pace training.

So, what is the relationship between top speed and sustainable speed?

How often should I be swimming fast (top-end fast) repeats with lots of rest, vs. slower repeats with less rest, vs. USRPT or other ideas?

I had a pretty good handle on how to get faster as a runner: what worked well for me was fast repeats at a variety of distances (all much shorter than race distance), plus a long run and a tempo run every week. So, speedwork consisted of alternating days (no more than 2 speed days/week) of repeat 400s, or repeat 800s, or repeat 1200s, or repeat 1600s--this kind of plan got me BIG gains in speeds very rapidly when I was running seriously.

I was musing on planning my swim training the same way, adding two speed days a week to match my running speed work by time (i.e. a 200m running repeat=50m swimming, 400m running=75m swimming, 800m running=250 swimming, etc).

Any feedback on that idea? Or other ideas about how people have had success improving speed? Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 04-06-2017
Abdargush
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
During my recent sessions with USRPT training (trying to build up to a 500m swim in 7:30), I've become curious about the relationship between my fastest speed for a short distance (say 50m, or maybe 25m) and the speed I can expect to hold for longer distances--my 500m swim, yes, but also longer open-water races.
...
So, what is the relationship between top speed and sustainable speed?

There are the SDI (Sprint/Distance index) and TFD (Target Fatigue Decay) that are used for calculating times in the Swim Time Prediction Tool:
http://arhy.org/swim-predict
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  #3  
Old 04-06-2017
gary p gary p is offline
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As you probably already know, I'm a believer in USRPT. Some the core tenets are:
  • Swim technique, and muscle recruitment allocation, is velocity dependent
  • Therefore, the best way to practice is to practice at the speed you expect to race at

So I believe the best way to maximize your absolute peak speed is to regularly do some max effort, short distance work....and to do it on long rest so you can maximize the number of repetitions at the relevant speed.

To train for the 50 free, I do 8-12* x 25 on a 2 minute interval. Compared to my USRPT 400/500 pace 75's, I'm about 4.5 seconds per 25 faster.** Even compared to my 25s at 100 pace, I'm 1.5 seconds faster. 90 seconds extra rest per repeat helps!

I use a variation of that to train for the 50 fly. I do 8-10 x 50 on a 2:30 interval. The first 25 is sprint fly, and I stop the watch at the wall. I'll take moment to check my time, then I swim an easy 25 breast back to the other wall. That bit of active recovery helps minimize the leg cramps I sometimes experience with extended fly sets.


*The 50 is a secondary event for me. This set is most often a second set of the workout, after I've done something at 100, 200, or 400/500 pace. If it were a primary event, I would do more reps.

**That's assuming I'm in peak shape, and training across a broad range of distances. Right now, I'm 5.5 seconds/25 faster at my 50 speed than my 500 speed. I was out of the pool for several months, and have focused on rebuilding my sprint speed first.

Last edited by gary p : 04-06-2017 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 04-06-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary p View Post
As you probably already know, I'm a believer in USRPT. Some the core tenets are:
  • Swim technique, and muscle recruitment allocation, is velocity dependent
  • Therefore, the best way to practice is to practice at the speed you expect to race at

So I believe the best way to maximize your absolute peak speed is to regularly do some max effort, short distance work....and to do it on long rest so you can maximize the number of repetitions at the relevant speed.
Gary,

thanks for the reply; I appreciate your insight and experience. I agree that specificity of speed is a core tenet of USRPT (i.e. train at race pace).

So, why push top end speed at all? If I am racing a 1650 and can already swim faster than my sustainable speed in that event, how does swimming 25m repeats on long rest help?

I don't doubt it does help--I'm just finding the relationship between faster top end speed and developing more capacity at a slower race pace (one you can already swim at) interesting right now. How much do successful swimmers concentrate on top end sprint speed if they are not sprinters? (My long range goals are the opposite of sprinting--long open water races, 10 miles+).

Thanks for any thoughts or advice anyone wants to offer.
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  #5  
Old 04-06-2017
gary p gary p is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
Gary,

thanks for the reply; I appreciate your insight and experience. I agree that specificity of speed is a core tenet of USRPT (i.e. train at race pace).

So, why push top end speed at all? If I am racing a 1650 and can already swim faster than my sustainable speed in that event, how does swimming 25m repeats on long rest help?

I don't doubt it does help--I'm just finding the relationship between faster top end speed and developing more capacity at a slower race pace (one you can already swim at) interesting right now. How much do successful swimmers concentrate on top end sprint speed if they are not sprinters? (My long range goals are the opposite of sprinting--long open water races, 10 miles+).

Thanks for any thoughts or advice anyone wants to offer.
Honestly, I don't think there's much, if anything, to be gained for your 1650 race speed, or even 500 race speed, by doing max effort 25's on long rest. Those 25's are pure anaerobic efforts. They should be no breath, or one breath at most, at a tempo and kick intensity you'll never approach in a distance race. If you're just curious what your maximum speed potential is, try the set for a few weeks. But if you're looking for something that's gonna help you with your distance speed, it's probably not a good use of your time and energy.

25's at 100 pace on short rest? Still largely anaerobic, but you've added an aerobic component. 50's at 200 race pace? Now you're into a set that almost certainly has some carry over affect on your 400/500 potential, and probably, to a lesser extent, your 1500/1650 potential.
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Old 04-06-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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I'm awed by the absolute times being posted, as well as the relative improvements and the method how the improvement was achieved. While the immediate innovation at play here seems to be the USRPT method, it seems to be blindingly obvious that in this case Tom's huge progress would not have been possible without his prior very meticulously laid out foundation of low SPL development and solidification with numerous repetitions with no "forgiveness" allowed for slipping technique due to fatigue or whatever.

Beginners wanting to jump forward to faster tempos before crystallizing or improving their stroke length and other technical stroke and balance imperfections should restrain their impatience (talking to myself here).
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Old 04-07-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
I'm awed by the absolute times being posted, as well as the relative improvements and the method how the improvement was achieved. While the immediate innovation at play here seems to be the USRPT method, it seems to be blindingly obvious that in this case Tom's huge progress would not have been possible without his prior very meticulously laid out foundation of low SPL development and solidification with numerous repetitions with no "forgiveness" allowed for slipping technique due to fatigue or whatever.

Beginners wanting to jump forward to faster tempos before crystallizing or improving their stroke length and other technical stroke and balance imperfections should restrain their impatience (talking to myself here).
That's good to remember--fast times can be motivating, but I could see them being de-motivating unless you keep goals realistic-ish and your technique is well established. But it's fun for me to see how far ahead guys like Salvo and Gary are--a wide spectrum and there are always people doing things better and faster.

Full disclosure: I've been swimming seriously for 17 years, many of those years being almost all at 13-14 SPL (I didn't really break that discipline until 2012 after some encouragement from Terry to try higher SPLs), and all very much TI oriented for the past 12 years. That has been a very valuable foundation to work from, as sclim notes. It's just this winter that I really feel like my hips are getting fully engaged in my kick, so I'm definitely having fun and still learning every day.
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  #8  
Old 04-07-2017
gary p gary p is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
That's good to remember--fast times can be motivating, but I could see them being de-motivating unless you keep goals realistic-ish and your technique is well established. But it's fun for me to see how far ahead guys like Salvo and Gary are--a wide spectrum and there are always people doing things better and faster.

Full disclosure: I've been swimming seriously for 17 years, many of those years being almost all at 13-14 SPL (I didn't really break that discipline until 2012 after some encouragement from Terry to try higher SPLs), and all very much TI oriented for the past 12 years. That has been a very valuable foundation to work from, as sclim notes. It's just this winter that I really feel like my hips are getting fully engaged in my kick, so I'm definitely having fun and still learning every day.
There are some interesting new bulletins by Dr Rushall on the USRPT website. One thing he mentions is that on a USRPT program, you will reach your maximum fitness (for the given frequency of trainining, anyway) in about 12 weeks. After that, you're only going to make meaningful speed gains via technique improvements. That was pretty much my experience. In fact, I initially stumbled across TI when my speed had plateaued on USRPT and I was googling for swim technique videos. I think TI can be a great foundation for speed. Unfortunately, some TI followers develop "SPL fixation." SPL is important, but you have to be willing to give some in exchange for tempo if you want to be a sprinter, or even a fast middle distance swimmer!

Last edited by gary p : 04-07-2017 at 01:20 AM.
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  #9  
Old 04-07-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary p View Post
There are some interesting new bulletins by Dr Rushall on the USRPT website. One thing he mentions is that on a USRPT program, you will reach your maximum fitness (for the given frequency of trainining, anyway) in about 12 weeks. After that, you're only going to make meaningful speed gains via technique improvements. That was pretty much my experience. In fact, I initially stumbled across TI when my speed had plateaued on USRPT and I was googling for swim technique videos. I think TI can be a great foundation for speed. Unfortunately, some TI followers develop "SPL fixation." SPL is important, but you have to be willing to give some in exchange for tempo if you want to be a sprinter, or even a fast middle distance swimmer!
I suppose you're right -- there are a lot of TI SPL-fixated people out there who will never get faster. But maybe most of that group aren't interested in getting faster; they have been self selected in that prior to this they couldn't swim at all or swam so poorly that it was distressing and fear inducing. Their present ease is reward enough, and they are enjoying the intrinsic pleasure of moving with ease in the water.

On the other hand there may be a significant minority which includes myself who are not swimming particularly faster than four years ago, but are achieving this slightly greater velocity with significantly more ease and consistency through focussing on SPL, and appropriately so, I think. Speaking for myself, although the stroke solidity is not improving at an obviously rapid rate, it is still improving significantly. Because I know how inefficient my stroke and form used to be, I am reluctant to give up any gains at this point by taking short cuts. Also, from the extrapolations made by others who have done the work on a large number of swimmers of varying heights (i.e. the green zone chart) I have reasonable confidence that I can continue to work my way through my green zone till I get to the low end of my green range. I am prepared to be patient in learning this new skill late in life, but make no mistake, I am fully committed to eventually swimming faster. But I think it is premature for me to start increasing my stroke rate arbitrarily until I know my form has a chance of holding up to that stress.
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Old 04-07-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello,

the last posts made me smile, because they exactly reflect, why I do like the TI-forum so much...

@sclim,
Quote:
Their present ease is reward enough, and they are enjoying the intrinsic pleasure of moving with ease in the water.
Yes, and seems they found what they love... But even they wouldn't refuse some tiny Kaizen-like improvements would they.

Quote:
On the other hand there may be a significant minority which includes myself who are not swimming particularly faster than four years ago, but are achieving this slightly greater velocity with significantly more ease and consistency through focussing on SPL, and appropriately so, I think.
´
Belong to this group myself :-) Caused by aging there are appearing more and more gaps in my swimmings... and it doesn't become easier to get back the old (always quite slow) times... although i'd like to believe my Kaizen-oriented work will improve my technique...

@ gary p,
Quote:
There are some interesting new bulletins by Dr Rushall on the USRPT website. One thing he mentions is that on a USRPT program, you will reach your maximum fitness (for the given frequency of trainining, anyway) in about 12 weeks.
That's somewhat funny for me. 10-14weeks is the time Cooper in the late 1960ies designed his programs to get "normal people" into an aerobic good shape by 3-5 aerobic sessions per week.

@ Tom Pamperin,
Quote:
I've been swimming seriously for 17 years, many of those years being almost all at 13-14 SPL (I didn't really break that discipline until 2012 after some encouragement from Terry to try higher SPLs), and all very much TI oriented for the past 12 years.
And there seem to be so many swimmers outside the TI-world, believing they know all about TI as "slow and nice", who would never believe, that Terry himself ever did advocate higher SPL...

... could go on with many others... Thanks to all posters expanding my (our?) blinkers...

Best regards,
Werner
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