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  #1  
Old 05-18-2011
Mempho Mempho is offline
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Default How hard should you pull?

At first I just let my hand drift backward. Then I pulled back slightly, maybe with a 3 pound force. Lately I've been trying out the early vertical forearm idea, or at least started pulling with my lats instead of windmilling with my rotator cuff, and I've increased that to 5-10 pounds (and the persistent shoulder pain I had has gone away). But even a weakling like me can load up the lat machine to 100 pounds, so I could put a lot more muscle into the pull if I wanted to. World-class athletes don't loaf along, obviously. But for the perpetual motion stroke over, say 800 meters, should I be pulling as hard as I can without losing the catch -- or should I be just holding my position in the water as I spear forward?

Jim
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Old 05-19-2011
bx bx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mempho View Post
should I be pulling as hard as I can without losing the catch -- or should I be just holding my position in the water as I spear forward?
Jim,

I've been checking old posts from coach Shinji recently, to also gain insight into the pull. I think it's all to do with timing. To go fast, you do need to apply effort, but at the most advantageous point in the stroke - which basically means - at the same time as the weight shift. I can't claim to have the timing right yet.

In the posts below, Shinji has a nice sequence of images of his switch timing.



Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachShinji View Post
When I swim freestyle with 9 strokes, I try to be patient to extend my leading arm because it makes my body longer. To keep my arm extended means to pull very quickly in a stoke cycle. The attached photo shows my switch timing. You can see how I use my muscles to pull my hand.

Breathing: Since I accelerate in a very short period, a vow [sic] wave is created by my submerged head. It makes a dimple in the water so I can breathe even my head is in the water.


http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...?p=455#post455

http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...?p=499#post499


Ant
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  #3  
Old 05-19-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mempho View Post
over, say 800 meters, should I be pulling as hard as I can without losing the catch -- or should I be just holding my position in the water as I spear forward?
Since it would be a real challenge for you and anyone else to be confident that we both had the same understanding of 'how hard is hard' your best course is to seek the answer to this question via the kind of orderly experimentation Grant employed to learn the effect of breathing frequency on his stroke efficiency, which I blogged about here.

Personally I try to avoid pulling 'hard' or at least make it the last option when I'm trying to gain speed. This is because I find it all too easy to convert harder pulling into more commotion (i.e. turbulence) instead of locomotion.

So I constantly try to refine the degree of pressure I apply to the water, seeking (i) to swim the same speed with lighter pressure, or a tiny bit more speed with the same pressure. Trading more pressure for more speed is always the third option.

I practice this kind of trading nearly all the time in countless ways. Just substitute the terms "strokes" and "tempo" for "pressure" and you get the idea. It's just that pressure is a subjective/qualitative measure, while the other two are objective/quantitative.

If I was to design an experiment to answer this question it would probably go like this
Step One
Swim a series of at least 4 rounds, but preferably 6 or 8, of [3 x 25]. Each round would be:
25 Gentle pressure (Bob Wiskera's phrase 'gathering moonbeams' would apply)
25 Moderate pressure
25 Firmer pressure
Your goal is to cultivate greater sensitivity to feeling your body move forward faster, as you increase pressure. And equally to avoid any feeling of turbulence or slip.
In a best-case scenario, you should find that each time you repeat the round, you do a better job of increasing speed, minimizing slip/turbulence as you increase pressure.

Step Two
Swim the same series, but this time focus on maintaining SPL as you increase pressure. If your SPL is 14 at gentle pressure, your goal is to still be at 14 at firmer pressure. (T'would be even better if you could manage to lower your stroke count as pressure increased . . . but that's a very high level skill.

Step Three
Swim 3 to 4 founds of 3 x 50, same way. Do these 50s as Swim Golf. Add stroke count and time.
Goal is to consistently improve SG score as pressure increases from Gentle to Firmer.
The more masterfully you do this, the more your score should improve.

If you perform this experiment let us know how you do and what you learn.

And the next time a question like this occurs, can you create an experiment to answer it?
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  #4  
Old 05-19-2011
Mempho Mempho is offline
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bx: Thanks for the link to this great thread. I hadn't seen it before. Wonderful, helpful tips.

Terry: Reassuring advice. I'll try your experiments tomorrow.

I've had a nagging doubt for several weeks about whether I'm really pulling hard enough. My own experience has been that pulling harder gives me more speed, which solves many problems -- but pulling harder also introduces tension, which creates problems. So the trick for me seemed to be finding the right trade-off. Now I feel confident my doubts were foolish, I've been on the right track all along. Thanks to all.

Jim
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  #5  
Old 05-20-2011
bx bx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mempho View Post
I've had a nagging doubt for several weeks about whether I'm really pulling hard enough. My own experience has been that pulling harder gives me more speed, which solves many problems -- but pulling harder also introduces tension, which creates problems. So the trick for me seemed to be finding the right trade-off. Now I feel confident my doubts were foolish, I've been on the right track all along. Thanks to all.
Jim
With Terry's caveat in mind that no-one can tell what constitues "hard" for another person - yeah, you're very probably right. You described yourself as a weakling in your original post - and I definitely am too - thin arms, can't lift much weight in the gym. But, since I've very recently started to finally grow some modest lats, I'm enjoying the feeling of pulling with them, with what to me, is a "fair amount of force", smoothly applied. As I grow stronger, I expect this force will seem "modest", then "slight" :)

Also, the thing that struck me about Shinji's post I quoted above, is he did say he accelerated quickly in the pull. It's rare to see such a bold, specific statement like that about the pull. You can see it in his underwater videos too - just look how quickly he pulls through. Of course, it's timed impeccably, so it feels strong and smooth and controlled, and with the lats/back/pecs doing the heavy work.
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Old 05-20-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bx View Post
Also, the thing that struck me about Shinji's post I quoted above, is he did say he accelerated quickly in the pull.
Years ago - because the conventional wisdom said you should accelerate the hand through the pull - I used to try to do precisely that. If it made me faster, it also brought problems (1) any speed gains were temporary or ephemeral; and (2) it made me noticeably more tired, especially fatigue-prone arm and shoulder muscles.

I haven't spoken with Shinji about how he makes that acceleration happen but in my case it now happens entirely as a result of weight shift and toe-flick.

I never try to move my hands faster. I [do try to selectively cultivate a sense of increased water pressure or resistance on them.
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  #7  
Old 05-20-2011
bx bx is offline
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Cheers for the reply Terry...

I didn't realise this was out-of-date technique re: Shinji accelerating through the pull (I appreciate the TI materials don't teach that anyway).

Ah, the illusion of temporary progress...

Ant
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  #8  
Old 05-20-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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I agree with Terry when he says he never tries to pull harder. My experience of pulling harder came down to ripping through the water and shoulder pain.

I may be an extreme case, but I never think about pulling at all. Instead I think about spearing perfectly (meaning entry point, direction, angle and length) and let the 'pulling' arm do what it wants. I doubt my catch is perfect but I have made huge progress following this path.

I'm currently practising in a warm but short (12.5 or 15m) pool. The guy beside me each morning is an old-fashioned 'ripping' puller. It takes him 20 hand entries to cross, to my 5 (five), and I go faster. I've watched him underwater and while he is clearly making a big effort, most of it results in making waves.
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2011
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CoachDave CoachDave is offline
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Default Specifics

Even the language used in describing this can lead to problems. If you reach for something in front of you, then pull hard on it, your elbow drops to your side as you yank backwards.
As I try to go faster, I seek out the press or push instead. Once in the EVF position, that is the sensation you get in taking the arm back while maintaining the right position. You push water back with the forearm, you push the hip past the press and drive it into the opposite edge. I only experience the sensation of pulling when I am with a client and show them how their arms move through the water.

Visualize Terry's "soft hook". If you grab it from the back (opposite the hook) and draw it back, it will lose its angle and traction. If you push it back from the front of the hook, it maintains its angle. It's a tough visual...perhaps Todd can help me film that this weekend in Austin.
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