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Old 04-29-2015
Streak Streak is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 376
Default Tempo tests interpretation

I don't have a tempo timer but wanted to see how my times varied and how tired I felt at different tempos. All figures below were 4x25 yard with no tumble turn.

At a SR of 56 I did a pretty good time but was quite tired and I would not be able to sustain this for too long. At 46 I felt quite comfortable.

All of these were done trying to really do a good wide mail slot recovery and then not over-pulling trying to really grip the water first before gently pulling back.

1:42 42 18
1:35 50 20
1:31 56 22
1:39 44 18
1:40 44 18
1:44 42 18
1:40 46 20

The figure below were from my previous post where my style was still to pull a bit harder than I should. I was able to achieve a respectable time at a slower SR and fewer SPL.

1:37 43 16

So, what can I start concluding form the above?
From the first set of figures. I can increase the SR which gives me more speed but at the cost of effort and extra SPL.

From the last set of figures

Maybe in my videos it appears that I am overpowering the stroke but when I do that stroke it seems to work for me? When I try and slow it down to get more feel, my times suffer.

So now for the stupid question. (I have never swum competitively)
Assuming my form is good (but not perfect) and that I can consistently achieve 1:37 43 16 above when swimming on my own. What do I need to do to keep up with or beat the swimmer in the lane next to me?

Increase SR and get a bit tireder?
Pull harder and risk slipping too much grip?
Lengthen my stroke more assuming there is more length to be had?
Don't even try but continue to get fitter and more efficient and the speed will come?

Last edited by Streak : 04-30-2015 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 04-30-2015
Streak Streak is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 376

I Was reading the TT post with interest. That 4321 drill looks like something I should try in concept even if I don't have the TT.
It got me thinking about what my actual SR is.
In the first interval above it shows my SR as 42 strokes per minute.
The Garmin calculating this using my total 72 strokes for the 4 lengths which took 1:42.
In TT terms this would be 1.42 seconds per stroke.

However this does not take into account the time it takes me to touch the wall, turn, push off and start stroking somewhere under the flags. Does this mean my real SR would be a lot faster? Say about 4s per length (16s total) for the turn around then the calculation would be done over 1:26 which equates to a TT tempo of 1.19?

Does this make sense?

I did some counting while watching my video and it seems to be correct.
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Old 05-01-2015
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,353

Hi Streak,

I think you are exposing the Garmin error, wall push and assumptions it may be making. The math doesn't quite add up.

102s/4l = 25.5s per length. Subtract 4 secs for push = 21.5 / 18 strokes (SPL) = 1.19 secs per stroke or ~50 SPM.

The most accurate way is to count your own strokes from a consistent wall push, and better get a tempo trainer to eliminate any guess work and Garmin error. The watches only count one arm and I have often found these gadgets in error by 1 or 2 strokes which will only return erroneous results.

In any case I think you are much closer to 1.2 secs/stroke at 50 SPM, not 1.4 @ 42 if you are holding a 1:42 pace.


Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 05-01-2015 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 05-01-2015
Streak Streak is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 376

Thanks Coach.
Yes, that's what I worked out in my second post.
No wonder I was tired over 100 yards when I tried to really go flat out I was actually close to a tempo of 1 stroke per second than the 1.1 I thought I was doing!

For now I just wanted to see what the different tempos feel like Garmin errors and all.

I need to do more work on my catch to find the happy medium between over and under pulling. As I increase my tempo I need to get my arm back into recovery faster so pull quicker to get there.

Last edited by Streak : 05-01-2015 at 02:01 AM.
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Old 05-01-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 712
Tom Pamperin

Originally Posted by Streak View Post
As I increase my tempo I need to get my arm back into recovery faster so pull quicker to get there.
Not necessarily--there are lots of places within the stroke to find a little time to make faster tempos. I usually focus more on speeding up the recovery--don't want to pull to hard. Some ideas that have helped me:

Elbow-lead recovery with palm up as hand leaves water at end of stroke, and elbow pulling forward as you start recovery--this sets up the arm to "fall forward" more quickly.

Ending the stroke a bit sooner by not pushing all the way to the hip--this starts to feel like a circular motion, where the recovery begins with the hand sliding FORWARD, not up. It's like spinning a light gear on a bike--and helps speed up the stroke.

Just pulling faster might prove counter-productive--but I'm curious to hear what others have to say on how they achieve faster tempos.
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