Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin
I swam these without any conscious intention to swim harder or faster, just to tuck/level my pelvis by tightening my abs, and the faster times just happened. It felt different, and better. A fairly casual 2BK, going for a pace on the 400s that I think I might be able to sustain on my 10-miler. I dropped from a 2:57 to 2:55 200m, and from 6:48 to a 6:44, then a 6:38 400m.
But then, I have not done an all-out 200m or 400m to test what my real PB is--I think I will be routinely doing them faster as my training goes on. I've been holding back on speed in my swimming, I think, with those 10 long miles always in mind (I almost never get a 50m under :40 these days); and these repeats came near the end of a 4000m session.
I didn't have any soreness of my abs afterward--but I do engage those muscles when I run (3 x week) and do yoga, so it wasn't turning on a new muscle (which might lead to soreness). I had just never mindfully and intentionally engaged them while swimming.
By my way of thinking, you can't always reliably say you used the same muscle groups therefore they weren't overused or used in a different way if you used them in a different activity. However, in your situation that actually was the case. So it seems like it was really one of those "something for nothing" great bargains that don't come around very often!
I tried to incorporate this focal point in my laps this morning. I must say I was trying a whole bunch of things in quick succession, so my recollection of the outcome is a little hazy; but it did seem to make alignment more secure. Oh, I remember now -- I was trying to breathe exclusively on my bad side -- my left -- and after several breaths I started to lose ease and to struggle for breath, breaking my body axis in a reflexive move to get my head higher for more reliable air availability. By thinking firm longitudinal line and firm rotational connection between shoulder girdle and hip girdle this seemed to tidy things up and I was able to breathe easily again without lurching for air; which means, I guess my balance returned as a direct result of core engagement and axial discipline.