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  #1  
Old 07-25-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Default Stroke Speed science

Yesterday I had a swim with a childhood friend who was a national age grouper and has continued to swim the last 20 years. Now more focused on triathlon, she can still swim a sub 2:40 10K

I took the opportunity to observe her stroke as its rare I get to see anyone swim in a public sessions at a faster pace than 1.45/100

What struck me instantly was how she attacked every stroke, even on warm up laps. The stroke rate was low, and the recovery relaxed but the switch had purpose and energy.

This caused me to think, if two athletes maintain an identical stroke rate but one performs a leisurely switch and the other an accelerated one, will the second swimmer go faster, if so why?

assuming they are moving identical paddles (hands/forearms) through the water and all else equal (balance/streamline).?
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Old 07-25-2012
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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It seems to me that if the two swimmers swim at the same stroke rate but one moves faster than the other, then the one who moves faster is either getting greater stroke length or creating less drag, or possibly both.

The efficiency of the kick might also be involved but would probably be covered by the drag component.
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  #3  
Old 07-25-2012
CoachToddE CoachToddE is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinnorway View Post
What struck me instantly was how she attacked every stroke, even on warm up laps. The stroke rate was low, and the recovery relaxed but the switch had purpose and energy.

This caused me to think, if two athletes maintain an identical stroke rate but one performs a leisurely switch and the other an accelerated one, will the second swimmer go faster, if so why?

assuming they are moving identical paddles (hands/forearms) through the water and all else equal (balance/streamline).?
This reminds me of a spirited discussion that took place about one and half to two years ago on the forum about how much forward propulsion spearing and rotation added or did not add to your swimming. Several of us lean in favor of the idea that forward energy/inertia is generated when the arm starts its recovery with the elbow leading and the weight of the upper arm (forearm and hand) hanging below storing up the potential energy of gravity (remembering that any part of the body extended or held out of the water is 8-10 times heavier than when in the water) along with the energy created by the recovering motion and all applied in the spearing and kicking of the opposite leg. When done in isolation of one arm stroke and kick and glide you can feel this energy being created and applied. Granted it is not a tremendous amount of force but slight and when you add up all the slights in a swim they add up to saved strokes and more distance per stroke.

Apparently you witnessed this taking place by your description above vindicating those who subscribed to this theory. I noticed this more pronounced when I started using the tempo trainer (TT) for backstroke. I thought I had a good turnover. I found when I first used the TT that I was quick recovering my arm up out of the water but then tended to coast to entry and I was having to throw my arms back into the water to catch the beep. At first I wasn't able to keep the same tempo as my freestyle but after a few sessions I have now created a backstroke that drives/spears into the catch position at a tempo almost as fast as my freestyle and stroke count within 1-2 of my freestyle.

Thanks for the observation and post as I never gave up on my opinion as I had felt it while swimming. Especially when moving into tempos below .95.
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  #4  
Old 07-25-2012
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hi Andy,

just my noncoach 2ct: I'm convinced in your example the one with the better anchored arm will be faster...

(Yesterday I was glad to get a "friendship-pool-talking-lesson" by a former training partner von Franziska von Almsick. Now she gives courses for people with water repellency. My decision to is from this experience.)

Regards,
Werner
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  #5  
Old 07-25-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinnorway View Post
Yesterday I had a swim with a childhood friend who was a national age grouper and has continued to swim the last 20 years. Now more focused on triathlon, she can still swim a sub 2:40 10K

I took the opportunity to observe her stroke as its rare I get to see anyone swim in a public sessions at a faster pace than 1.45/100

What struck me instantly was how she attacked every stroke, even on warm up laps. The stroke rate was low, and the recovery relaxed but the switch had purpose and energy.

This caused me to think, if two athletes maintain an identical stroke rate but one performs a leisurely switch and the other an accelerated one, will the second swimmer go faster, if so why?

assuming they are moving identical paddles (hands/forearms) through the water and all else equal (balance/streamline).?
That question could (and should) be asked differently.

In absolute, resulting speed is function of avg distance per stroke (by avg, I mean including the glides following up the pushoff) * avg stroke rate. Period.

So 2 swimmers showing the same DPS and Rate will swim equally fast.

What I do notice in your observation/question though, is that you managed to notice about one of the well kept secrets of good swimmers. Let me explain.

Swimming relies on glide. So it's very different from running/cycling, whilst being much closer to speed skating for example.

In running, the athlete is told to try and keep the stride rate constant. Going slower then means that the stride length will be different according to the running pace. Same in cycling. It's often recommended to pedal at a relatively constant pedaling rate. If you want to go slower, just use a gear box ratio that makes the pedaling easier.

In swimming, since it relies heavily on gliding, you have the choice. To swim slower you can either maintain a fast-ish stroke rate whilst reducing the DPS, or you can reduce the SR whilst keeping a fair load of work by achieving great DPS.

If you can picture Shinji training with a swim squad, it's easy to imagine which camp he would choose. Well in my humble opinion it's a fair camp.

Several high level swimmers, including sprinters, do carry a very high DPS even at lower speed in order to keep the muscular effort of performing the pull through similar to when they're swimming faster.

This is what you've observed with your friend. Even if she swims slower, she keeps a certain level of power output. The impact of doing this is that she manages to keep her pull through pretty specific to what it is when she increases the speed.

So in my opinion your question may have been:
2 swimmers. 1 of them is constantly challenging herself power wise at lower speed by producing that speed relying on DPS. Does this swimmer have more chance to develop specific muscle endurance and better pull through mechanics? If the question pertains to pool event (as opposed to open water events) I'd say *yes*.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 07-25-2012 at 03:16 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-25-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post
That question could (and should) be asked differently.

In absolute, resulting speed is function of avg distance per stroke (by avg, I mean including the glides following up the pushoff) * avg stroke rate. Period.

So 2 swimmers showing the same DPS and Rate will swim equally fast.

What I do notice in your observation/question though, is that you managed to notice about one of the well kept secrets of good swimmers. Let me explain.

Swimming relies on glide. So it's very different from running/cycling, whilst being much closer to speed skating for example.

In running, the athlete is told to try and keep the stride rate constant. Going slower then means that the stride length will be different according to the running pace. Same in cycling. It's often recommended to pedal at a relatively constant pedaling rate. If you want to go slower, just use a gear box ratio that makes the pedaling easier.

In swimming, since it relies heavily on gliding, you have the choice. To swim slower you can either maintain a fast-ish stroke rate whilst reducing the DPS, or you can reduce the SR whilst keeping a fair load of work by achieving great DPS.

If you can picture Shinji training with a swim squad, it's easy to imagine which camp he would choose. Well in my humble opinion it's a fair camp.

Several high level swimmers, including sprinters, do carry a very high DPS even at lower speed in order to keep the muscular effort of performing the pull through similar to when they're swimming faster.

This is what you've observed with your friend. Even if she swims slower, she keeps a certain level of power output. The impact of doing this is that she manages to keep her pull through pretty specific to what it is when she increases the speed.

So in my opinion your question may have been:
2 swimmers. 1 of them is constantly challenging herself power wise at lower speed by producing that speed relying on DPS. Does this swimmer have more chance to develop specific muscle endurance and better pull through mechanics? If the question pertains to pool event (as opposed to open water events) I'd say *yes*.
excellent answer and rationale, thank you. I am swimming with her husband tonight, who was also my best man and I his. First time since the day before his wedding we have swum together and I remember from school days he had the smoothest stroke I can remember. looking forward to seeing it again tonight with my new knowledge.
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  #7  
Old 07-25-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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You write:

"This caused me to think, if two athletes maintain an identical stroke rate but one performs a leisurely switch and the other an accelerated one, will the second swimmer go faster, if so why?"

This has me a bit confused. If has a "leisurely" (slow) switch and one has an "accelerated" (fast) one, wouldn't that latter have a higher stroke rate? or are you imagining that one has (a) a fast pull and a slow recovery, or (b) a slow recovery and fast pull, and the other has a medium-paced pull and recovery, so that the stroke rate of the two is the same? Or are you imagining something different?

Tony
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Old 07-25-2012
Janos Janos is offline
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Andy, my personal opinion is that the relaxed recovery of Terry and Shinji has fooled a lot of observers into thinking that the whole action is relaxed. They are missing an important point. The recovery arm is gathering energy, some of that energy is wasted if the arm crashes into the water during recovery, but the test is to enter the water and apply that energy in concert with your hip drive and kick in the smoothest possible way.I see the recovery arm and the catch arm like opposite pedals on a cycle, separate but inextricably linked. The same way that a cyclist applies power on the upstroke of the pedal, the swimmer applies power during recovery, even though that may not be obvious to the observer because of the relaxed arm during recovery.

Regards

Janos
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  #9  
Old 07-25-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
You write:

"This caused me to think, if two athletes maintain an identical stroke rate but one performs a leisurely switch and the other an accelerated one, will the second swimmer go faster, if so why?"

This has me a bit confused. If has a "leisurely" (slow) switch and one has an "accelerated" (fast) one, wouldn't that latter have a higher stroke rate? or are you imagining that one has (a) a fast pull and a slow recovery, or (b) a slow recovery and fast pull, and the other has a medium-paced pull and recovery, so that the stroke rate of the two is the same? Or are you imagining something different?

Tony
By switch, I was assuming that the OP was referring to the energy that's put whilst switching from one side to the other.

If it's the case then yes it's highly possible that two swimmers, one staying very relaxed whilst switching therefore performing a soft switch (so to speak) and the other inducing more power in switching side, end up having the exact same stroke rate.

The hand underwater does accelerate from beginning to end (of the pull). A more energetic switch could mean more hand acceleration *from mid-to-end* of the pulling path. This may come at the cost of a slower downsweep/catch. It's perfectly thinkable that a swimmer could rather perform an even pull with little or no acceleration to it. This could be seen as a more relaxed switch. These two swimmers would, in theory, hold the same rate. But if they have the same feel for water and same potential for streamlining, the swimmer that gives more acceleration to the hand would likely end up with a better distance per stroke. I mean, normally...

I know next to nothing about TI. I've always wondered what resulting pace Shinji would get whilst performing perpetual swimming in a 25m pool at 11-12 stroke per length. If he gets close too, or go under a pace of 1:30 per 100m with this DPS, then chances are that he indeed gives a great acceleration to his hand. If he manages to get as fast as 1:25/100m at that DPS, then no doubt. He gives a huge acceleration to his hand, his *switch* is very powerful, and as Janos mentioned, although it may look relaxed etc, it is just an illusion. Cause make no mistake, booking a full 1500 SCM in 21:15 at 11-12 strokes per 25m is anything, but effortless. It would be done at an exceptionally low SR, in the neighborhood of 46 SPM, probably less than that.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 07-25-2012 at 08:43 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-25-2012
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hi Charles,
a supplementary question:

If understood you right your preference (for pace) is a powerful pull/push phase starting just after the catch. Might it be possible while creating turbulence in this way, getting a better result (for pace) applying the force in a steady way stronger to stroke's end... and that could be powersaving compared with the first...

(I'm aware this will not be the case with the quality swimmer Andy wrote about...)

Its still a miracle to me how to accelrate my inner stroke rate to get the felt syrup a firmer consistency. (One of my swimming problems.)

Regards,
Werner
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