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Old 01-22-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Default The Power of 25m Repeats

To really imprint the new timing on my 2BK that I learned from the Freestyle Mastery course, I've been swimming many short repeats of 25m over and over again. I don't hear this talked about much, nor do I see other swimmers doing anything like it--but it's proven to be an extraordinarily effective way for me to organize my practice to learn and hone new techniques.

Here's what I did today:

2 x (10 x 25m): This was a nice easy tune-up, swimming slowly and trying out various focal points. SPL ranged from 14-16. Did not get down to my usual 13 SPL, didn't feel all that great.

5 x (4 x 25m), repeated at 14 SPL, 15 SPL, 16 SPL, 15 SPL, 14 SPL in reverse pyramid fashion. Was able to hold target SPLs, but only by really focusing on HOW to do it. What worked was two things:

1. Being hyper-vigilant about NOT letting any rotation begin until the press/kick. I had to pay attention to keep my body on its left side, for example, even as my right arm was recovering and spearing--a mental shift for me that really helped solidify my kick timing. Only when the spearing arm was wrist-deep did I allow myself to begin the press/kick on the other side. As soon as I consciously focused on this delayed rotation, I felt a much stronger smoother connection between kick and press.

2. Getting an "early" catch. Funny, I had always assumed "early" had something to do with time. Today I thought about it instead as "early" in the arm movement--i.e. NOT letting the arm slip backward to set up the catch position before the press. Instead, I simply directed my awareness to the hand of the catching arm, gave a SLIGHT wrist bend and slight squeezing motion with the hand itself to feel the hand grip the water. No arm movement. Then, when it was time for the kick/press motion, and ONLY then, did I let the arm move back. The result, it seemed, was that I was able to begin the propulsive press motion with my hand still well out in front of my head--something close to an early vertical forearm. This made it much easier to avoid a dropped elbow pull, and seemed very very effective (probably because it lengthened the propulsive phase of the stroke).

With my kick/press coordination feeling really good, I wanted to keep honing that feeling rather than stressing it by trying more aerobically challenging sets. So next I did this:

5 x (2 x 25m, 1 x 50m) again repeated at 14, 15, 16, 15, 14 SPL in another reverse pyramid.

The 50m repeats were a bit more challenging to keep good focus on, but within reach. I held target SPL all the way through. Feeling really good at this point, with a very obvious hip-driven kick and complete relaxation of the body but excellent balance, breathing with the head very low in the water with absolutely no urge to lift up.

Finished off with this:

5 x (2 x 50m), this time starting at higher SPL: 16, 15, 14, 15, 16

After 90 minutes in the pool, I had completed 2,000m. 1500m of it was in the most perfect form I am capable of right now. Felt really really good.

Final observations:

Especially when imprinting new skills or stroke modifications, I'm convinced it's far more effective to swim many short repeats until you are solid in the new skill. I'd go so far as to say that means spending WEEKS of practice focused unrelentingly on that one thing you are trying to change, without any distractions. I'm starting my third week of intensive 2BK focus right now, and think I'll go on like this for the rest of the week before moving back to "normal" practice sessions to apply what I've learned.

I learned SO much more doing this than I did at a local Masters Swimming "workout" I attended last week, where we were told what distances to swim and how much to rest, but nothing else.

I love TI!
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 01-22-2018 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 01-23-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Tom: this is really incredible and I'm taking it very seriously -- I'm aware of your capabilities at the longer length repeats, but you are saying (even if you can do longer repeats) it is not a waste of time to do multiple 25 m repeats with exquisite attention to fine details such as SPL maintenance, and awareness.

Certainly for me the 25m distance and maybe 50m was where I could maintain very good focus and precision, (not just physical intensity, which was what I was trying to underplay in my practice), so I was getting impatient that I should be pushing the 75 and 100m repeats; but now I see I need not be afraid of staying at the shorter lengths if it actually gets me to really perfect my technique before I practice stressing it to failure in longer distance repeats.

Just to make sure I understand -- you're not using a tempo trainer and are not shooting for any specified tempo. You just aim for a specific SPL value that is the target for that particular repeat in the set or pyramid or whatever and the tempo that allows that SPL will choose itself, right?

Also, going over and over carefully your descriptions in numbered paragraphs 1) and 2), it seems pretty technical, but what it seems like is that when you get it right the feeling is what confirms you got it right. Particularly your description in 2) of squeezing the water with the slight wrist bend and feeling a grip on the water before even starting to move the arm sounds a little like magic (like Peter Pan's instructions on how to fly lol), but in the same vein, I bet that's how it feels to you, so it's a worthwhile image to try and emulate, and hopefully I'll recognize when I get it right or close to right.

Last edited by sclim : 01-23-2018 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 01-23-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
Just to make sure I understand -- you're not using a tempo trainer and are not shooting for any specified tempo. You just aim for a specific SPL value that is the target for that particular repeat in the set or pyramid or whatever and the tempo that allows that SPL will choose itself, right?
Yes, that's basically it, sclim.

But it's a little more complicated, because one of the ways that I am able to choose a target SPL and hold it is to manipulate the tempo. I'm not measuring it with a TT, but I make subtle adjustments to tempo by intuition and feel--a slightly slower tempo for 14 SPL vs 15 SPL, for example. And one of the places that tempo adjustment shows up is in how soon after the push-off that I begin my first pressing motion. To fit in 16 strokes, I have to be beginning the pressing motion as I push off. To get down to 13 SPL at my other extreme, there's a noticeable glide before pressing. Not excessive gliding, I think--just a reflection of how long the recovery phase lasts at that tempo. In other words, I aim to have each recovery phase through the entire repeat take as much time as the glide at the initial push-off.
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Old 01-23-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
Also, going over and over carefully your descriptions in numbered paragraphs 1) and 2), it seems pretty technical, but what it seems like is that when you get it right the feeling is what confirms you got it right. Particularly your description in 2) of squeezing the water with the slight wrist bend and feeling a grip on the water before even starting to move the arm sounds a little like magic (like Peter Pan's instructions on how to fly lol), but in the same vein, I bet that's how it feels to you, so it's a worthwhile image to try and emulate, and hopefully I'll recognize when I get it right or close to right.
sclim,

thanks for the discussion--as you can probably guess from my too-long postings here, I could geek out on swimming technique all day!

Yes, I have been going by feel a lot in my self-coaching--trying to capture those elusive moments of really good/effective swimming that offer some new insight into my stroke, and work at being able to gain access to those insights, and that magical feeling, repeatedly. Until, maybe, it becomes my new default technique. Learning to capture and repeat those kinds of feelings at will is usually the main goal of my practice. That's why it's so valuable for me when others here on the forum approach things from a different perspective, like detailed analyses of which muscles are activated or what exactly is causing certain effects.

I mentioned in another thread that I feel like the main focus of every session I do is to just notice things, and be open to pursuing a new feeling when a new awareness arises. For me, this has led to a very open-minded curiosity in which I am intensely interested in what is happening and how it feels at every moment, but am completely freed from the necessity of making any judgments about it. That non-judgmental awareness is something I've recently been trying to bring to other areas of my life--it's exactly what meditation and mindfulness practices teach. In fact, I think that pursuing mastery in a discipline--any discipline--is perhaps even more effective for cultivating that kind of mindfulness and humility than sitting meditation is.

Plus, along the way, you develop some level of mastery in your chosen discipline!
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Old 01-23-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
Yes, that's basically it, sclim.

But it's a little more complicated, because one of the ways that I am able to choose a target SPL and hold it is to manipulate the tempo. I'm not measuring it with a TT, but I make subtle adjustments to tempo by intuition and feel--a slightly slower tempo for 14 SPL vs 15 SPL, for example. And one of the places that tempo adjustment shows up is in how soon after the push-off that I begin my first pressing motion. To fit in 16 strokes, I have to be beginning the pressing motion as I push off. To get down to 13 SPL at my other extreme, there's a noticeable glide before pressing. Not excessive gliding, I think--just a reflection of how long the recovery phase lasts at that tempo. In other words, I aim to have each recovery phase through the entire repeat take as much time as the glide at the initial push-off.
I can't see that the difference in glide is mandated by the difference in the recovery phase at the different tempos as you claim. The difference in recovery phase time should be somewhere in the region of 13:16. If there is a marked difference in glide length on push-off, more than the difference predicted by the 13:16 ratio, my guess is that you are not actually achieving the difference in stroke length when attempting to change between 13spl and 16spl and back again. If you are beginning to press to set up your catch immediately as you push off on 16spl (and not for a long time after push-off at 13spl), the only mathematical likelihood that springs to my mind is that the 16 strokes of your 16spl still takes up so much length (despite your attempts to shorten the stroke) that it encroaches into the initial push-off segment that was previously assigned only to passive pre-stroking glide.

I tried a session without TT this morning. (I have been practicing at a TT period of 1.40 seconds for a long time on the basis that if I improved my SPL after trying over and over, I wanted it to be truly an achievement rather than an artefact of allowing unlimited time for glide -- I see now that was maybe a short-sighted way of looking at it, but on the other hand I have noticed stroke irregularities and inconsistencies, and the TT has helped to earmark the timing irregularities with they happen). I dropped the SPL count by 1 to 1-1/2, quite naturally. I know I wasn't pulling harder to achieve this, too, because I had a chest injury last week during skiing, and it really hurt this morning, so I was careful not to pull too hard.

In fact I quit really early today because the chest pain was distracting, but it's gratifying to see that I was able to get a low spl without using undue arm force.
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Old 01-23-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
I can't see that the difference in glide is mandated by the difference in the recovery phase at the different tempos as you claim. The difference in recovery phase time should be somewhere in the region of 13:16. If there is a marked difference in glide length on push-off, more than the difference predicted by the 13:16 ratio, my guess is that you are not actually achieving the difference in stroke length when attempting to change between 13spl and 16spl and back again.
You've got me thinking. I'll come at this another way to see where it goes. Let's say I'm swimming 13 SPL at a 1.65 tempo. 14 beeps total if the first hand entry is on second beep, right? That gives a :46.2/50m speed, which is probably right about what I do at 13 SPL.

Now 16 SPL is 17 beeps total, right? To get my typical speed of :42/50m, that would be a 1.235 tempo or so (42 seconds divided by 34 beeps)

That means a difference of .425 seconds between a 13 SPL stroke and a 16 SPL stroke. If the recovery phase is roughly half the stroke time, that means a .2125 second difference in recovery time between 13 and 16 SPL. That's almost a quarter second, which seems to me like it would indeed be a very noticeable difference in glide time. Remember, even a .1 tempo change feels pretty big. Most TT pyramids move in much smaller increments, like .02 seconds.

Does that make sense, or have some errors crept into my thinking? The difference is not extremely obvious to observers, perhaps, but .21 seconds is very noticeable to the person swimming if they are paying attention. I think.

Does that change your thinking on this, sclim?
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 01-23-2018 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 01-23-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
I tried a session without TT this morning. (I have been practicing at a TT period of 1.40 seconds for a long time on the basis that if I improved my SPL after trying over and over, I wanted it to be truly an achievement rather than an artefact of allowing unlimited time for glide -- I see now that was maybe a short-sighted way of looking at it, but on the other hand I have noticed stroke irregularities and inconsistencies, and the TT has helped to earmark the timing irregularities with they happen). I dropped the SPL count by 1 to 1-1/2, quite naturally. I know I wasn't pulling harder to achieve this, too, because I had a chest injury last week during skiing, and it really hurt this morning, so I was careful not to pull too hard.

In fact I quit really early today because the chest pain was distracting, but it's gratifying to see that I was able to get a low spl without using undue arm force.
sclim,

you raise a good point about the TT keeping SPL honest by preventing over-gliding. I don't think I'm relying on over-gliding to change SPL, just changing tempos, but of course video or a TT would be needed for a truly objective assessment of that. I'll be watching for responses to my explanation to help me decide if I've been fooling myself. Which is a reminder it's time for some TT work for me--even at my "fast" pace and 16 SPL, I'm swimming at pretty slow tempos. If I can learn to maintain an easy 16 SPL at, say, a 1.2 or even 1.1 tempo, that will be a big improvement for me.

Good work on dropping SPL-do you have any insights into how you did it? That's a pretty big drop, so excellent results. Do you have ideas how you can replicate that next time?
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Old 01-23-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

Good work on dropping SPL-do you have any insights into how you did it? That's a pretty big drop, so excellent results. Do you have ideas how you can replicate that next time?
Don't forget I'm still at the relatively unskilled end, so SPL improvement is sort of "low hanging fruit". And 1.5 spl improvement out of 22 isn't nearly as hard as 1.5 spl simprovement from 15 spl!

I'm 162 cm, so for the 25m pool my supposed green zone is 17.5 to 22.5 strokes. Well, when I'm doing 100m, at a supposedly modest TT of 1.40 sec, forget it. I can get 22.5 spl for the first 50 m then it drops to 23, 23+, maybe 24 for the last 25m. And that's for the first 100; it gets progressively worse after that. Interestingly, I can hang on to 22.5 spl for the initial 25 m of the 100m even after 8-10 repeats; it's the 3rd and 4th lengths of the 100 that really get ugly as I fatigue.

But for single 25m repeats, even with short 20-30 second rests, at 1.40 sec TT I can get 22 spl repeatedly, maybe 21.5 spl, even with some relaxation. (Maybe only BECAUSE of relaxation, come to think of it). And if I don't use a TT, even without over-gliding or going ridiculously slow and/or pulling hard I have got as low as 19 spl (rarely)!

I got down to 20.5 spl this morning, pulling very lightly. Mind you, even with my left pectoralis hurting or maybe it was ribs, I was fresh.

How do I achieve this? -- not sure, but it requires a calmness of mind rather than a forced determination. I remember now I used to try to use an unnaturally hard kick to get longer strokes. Sometimes it worked, but then it would be "cheating" because it would be unsustainable, but just as often it would be counter-productive, I think because I was winding up with a too-bent knee rather than with good back and hip driven mechanics. But mostly with mental relaxation so I could achieve good body tone without tension, pay attention to trunk alignment, no banana bending of the trunk, no head lifting, and thinking long, long long in the spear and catch, and resisting all impulses to hurry the stroke.

My game plan is to focus on 25 and 50m repeats at 1.40 seconds TT, till I can get in the 17.5 spl range, then play with shorter TT cadence intervals to see if I can sustain those SPLs at faster cadence, then add distance loading.

P.S: On reflection, I just realized something that maybe shouldn't come as a shock -- low SPL or maybe efficient stroke mechanics, which it is a marker for, has much more to do with precision and sharp mental focus than brute physical strength or state of physical recovery.

Last edited by sclim : 01-24-2018 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 01-24-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
You've got me thinking. I'll come at this another way to see where it goes. Let's say I'm swimming 13 SPL at a 1.65 tempo. 14 beeps total if the first hand entry is on second beep, right? That gives a :46.2/50m speed, which is probably right about what I do at 13 SPL.

Now 16 SPL is 17 beeps total, right? To get my typical speed of :42/50m, that would be a 1.235 tempo or so (42 seconds divided by 34 beeps)

That means a difference of .425 seconds between a 13 SPL stroke and a 16 SPL stroke. If the recovery phase is roughly half the stroke time, that means a .2125 second difference in recovery time between 13 and 16 SPL. That's almost a quarter second, which seems to me like it would indeed be a very noticeable difference in glide time. Remember, even a .1 tempo change feels pretty big. Most TT pyramids move in much smaller increments, like .02 seconds.

Does that make sense, or have some errors crept into my thinking? The difference is not extremely obvious to observers, perhaps, but .21 seconds is very noticeable to the person swimming if they are paying attention. I think.

Does that change your thinking on this, sclim?
I'm not sure where you got the 1.65sec tempo for the 13 spl and the 1.23sec tempo for the 16 spl. Are these actual TT usage observed times or back calculated from 50m total times and stroke counts? If the latter, there may be some inconsistencies in your 13 and 16spl comparisons. Just looking at ratios alone, a rule of thumb estimation would suggest a 1.3x sec stroke period for the 16spl assuming 13 and 16 (or doubling for 2 lengths, 26 and 32) were the actual beep equivalents used up.

Actually, for me it's more like
"0" beep push off
1st beep initiate first 1/2 stroke pull underwater
2nd beep first stroke hand entry (count "one" in stroke count)
15th beep 13th hand entry hits the wall (I wish!!!) or maybe just shy and the other hand anchors to complete the 13th stroke.
(it takes 2 beeps for me to organize my open turn -- maybe it's faster for you)
17th beep push off - new "zero count"
19th beep count as first stroke hand entry of 2nd lap
32nd beep entry hand hits wall, or almost.

so actually 6 beeps got added to the doubled 13 (=26) strokes to get the 32 beeps.

assuming on the 16spl version you also started the first underwater 1/2stroke pull similarly on the 1st beep off the wall to get the first spear hand entry on the 2nd beep, you would finish the 50m on the 38th beep (adding the same 6 beeps to the 32 beeps).

Once you've got the respective virtual beep numbers you divide the total time by the number of virtual beep periods...

So your stroke tempo periods (cycle durations) would be 42/32 =1.313 sec and 42/38 = 1.105 sec. Taking half of these times to compare recovery times, 0.656 sec vs 0.5525 sec. That's more like your 0.1 sec difference which you said still can feel pretty big. And the Tempo Trainer time increment would have been 0.21 seconds which is huge. But my point is that if you are going to compare stroke length differences and their effects, perhaps the ground rules should be that you assume the same distance always be used, which is the distance from the (same) break-out point to the far wall.

But I have no way of weighing this for reasonableness because it's way beyond my practical capability or experience lol.

PS: Of course my calculations are totally off because you would be doing tumble turns which I have no practical experience with. When you are doing tumble turns, how does it work? Would you be counting along and you count "12" just before the wall, initiate a tumble and finish with your feet on the wall exactly at the "13" count? And push off at that same moment?

Last edited by sclim : 01-24-2018 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 01-24-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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I'm not sure where you got the 1.65sec tempo for the 13 spl and the 1.23sec tempo for the 16 spl. Are these actual TT usage observed times or back calculated from 50m total times and stroke counts?
The tempo settings I mentioned were calculated from my typical clock times, not actual TT settings. So:

push-off on "0" beep
start first 1/2 stroke on beep 1
first hand entry/first stroke on beep 2
hand touches wall shortly after beep 14 at 13 SPL

So, basically 14 beeps (not counting the "0" beep which happens at the very beginning) for 25m at 13 SPL. I wasn't really considering the turn at all, just doubling times to get my typical 50m time--that's because all I'm really interested in is the difference in tempo from 13 to 16 SPL to check my assumption that I'm not overgliding rather than actually changing SPL.

So, 14 beeps for 25m at around :23 (my typical default speed) means:

23/14 = 1.64 tempo setting

Then, 17 beeps for 25m at 16 SPL, with a typical time of :21 leads to:

21/17 = 1.235 tempo setting

That's a .405 difference in stroke time from 13 to 16 SPL, which (if recovery = half the stroke time) would mean a difference of .2025 seconds in the initial glide time between 13 and 16 SPL. Which, I think, might be a big enough difference to account for my perception of a noticeably longer glide at 13 SPL. Granted, this is all for 25m repeats without worrying about turns.

Anyway, I don't really care much about the specific tempos--but this does seem to suggest that modifying the tempo of the stroke is a big part of how I choose to swim at a particular SPL target. (Which doesn't explain how I can swim a different pace at the same SPL, though... Which I can, to some degree--and could develop more with TT training).

Unless I goofed up my math, or there's some error in my thinking. Can you see anywhere I went wrong?
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