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  #1  
Old 10-26-2012
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Default Bad strokes - what can we learn from?

Hallo,

confessed, its a rhetorical question, and it might be the only answer has to be: Avoid it!

But many of us will look familiar with (pleas assure me not being alone):

- Swimming more or less relaxed for a longer time. Once appears, sooner or later, where a TI-mortal-sin sneaks into your stroke: For me splashing elbow, spearing away from my bullseyes, lifting my head for a breathe, even more tensed recovery arm, leading the catch and push with the elbow, tracks become nearer.... and so on. Or

- Trying to swim faster strokes and same as above... but in much shorter time.

Why does this happen? We are all convinced that our arrived TI level is the best for our strokes, swimming and swim further on. We tried to imprint it as patient as possible. We are pleased with this stroke to some grade...

How have we to think or be aware or teach our brain to prevent this for-now-best-stroke from breaking down. What makes it so difficult to swim on just with less force, just with a little tired arms... Although we know by heart our goal will be reached easier with our better strokes.

Well, I'm sure even my most fatigued stroke now is a better one than the stroke swum when started my TI journey before 18 months. Forgive me a little provocational question as last: Are Shinji, Terry and all other TI-coaches are even able to swim still a bad stroke?

Best regards,
Werner
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Not sure I understand the question, but I wish I would
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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I think I got it.

Here are my humble theories about all this. Simple (as always).

You have muscles, and muscles.

On the one hand, you have muscles that serve forward propulsion. These are the one that when being engaged, will help moving your body forward. Latissimus dorsi are obviously a good example of this.

Then, well you have muscles that are mainly responsible for maintaining proper swim form. The infraspinatus muscle for instance, and you don't need to remember this or even know where it is (well, it's part of the rotators' cuff), it itself, can not serve the propuslion. Its purpose is to help doing good things such as maintaining high elbow.

Over the years, I've found out that the second category of muscles often gets tired well before the first category. This is where your TI-deadly-sins kick in.

There was a time, around 6-7 years ago, where a TI coach would advocate that everyone should be training AND racing pulling their absolute max distance per stroke. IE, if you could do 13 (without cheating), then you should race at that DPS. It's a position against which I've always (and forever will) disagree. Precisely because whilst it's true that giving less arm strokes per length reduces the drag associated with every one of these stroke, it's also true (according to my experience) that the muscles responsible for maintaining proper form would tire too quickly, making you loose your form over the race.

And once you start loosing stroke as a result of having been too optimistic with the DPS/SR Ratio, you're dead. Even accelerating the rate won't do much.

So. Take me for example. I can indeed race at 14 strokes per length, which is my maximal (moderately fast tempo) DPS. I know though that I can not pull 14 for 1500m. Impossible. My muscles responsible for maintaining good form can not support this. 15 is too optimistic too in my case. So for me, the magical number is 16.

At that DPS, I won't loose a stroke over 1500 and still can descend the 1500 under 20min at a rate that is lower than 65spm. Good enough for me. So it's a tactical thing.

Note that the unmentionable company did also react very vigorously against this obsession for racing at max DPS. It may be still on the impression that this is what TI advocates. I came in here in person to realize that it no longer seems to be the case.

Now the reason why your form fall apart as you increase the rate could be different though. Your neural training has to be progressive for your body to understand and feel what to do at higher rate, for your TI Stroke to persist.
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  #4  
Old 10-27-2012
terry terry is offline
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I came away with a different interpretation of Werner's post than did Charles. I thought he was asking those of us who have no difficulty whatsoever resisting the common human impulse to just carry on even though we may sense our stroke degrading, how we gained that strength of will.

I understand why the impulse to carry on, even as SPL may increase or stroke gets more splashy or rougher, is common. If you've swum with a coach, you've probably been pushed by said coach to go harder, turn over faster, kick more, etc. If you've swum solo, but guided by a workout downloaded from the internet, said workout is highly likely to have language in it that instructs you to do this set "Hard."
And in neither instance is it likely you were encouraged to avoid splash or uncontrolled increase in SPL.
So there's simply a strong culture in swimming that it's about how far and how hard.

But even for those who've not been influenced in this way, an even more common influence is to disassociate from exercise. Go through the motions. Think about whatever . . . or nothing. If possible -- such as on a treadmill, exercycle or elliptical -- read or watch something that takes your mind off what you're doing.

What we don't have is a culture that encourages you to exercise in ways that require you to work your brain as much as your muscles. Focus isn't easy. Nor is it natural. It's a skill that one must work to develop. In some ways it's more of a challenge than learning physical skills.

TI's essential message is Kaizen, not Long Strokes. And Kaizen is embodied in certain characteristic behaviors. Among the most important of them is that Kaizen swimmers are error-focused. We are tireless about finding and fixing weak spots. We find it far more satisfying to do that, then to repeat something where excellence comes easily.

And I must disagree with Charles's contention that it was ever a TI doctrine that swimmers should maintain the same low SPL when racing as in intentionally more careful practice. I coached the sprint group at West Point from 1996-99. What I taught them was consistent with what we taught at workshops at that time. And what I taught them was to wring all possible speed from controlled SPLs in practice, but to swim freely in races simply having trust in the efficiency imprinted in training. Just as Popov did.

We explicitly stated in workshops in the mid-90s: "The goal is to optimize, not maximize, your Stroke Length."
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Last edited by terry : 10-27-2012 at 12:30 AM.
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  #5  
Old 10-27-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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I spent the first 6 months of my TI training trying to minimise SPL, and also finding it hard to swim more than 100m without stopping, but I don't see this as time lost to bad training.

Instead I have learnt to understand fully the SPL equation and now train at different tempos and different SPL, constantly fine tuning what I consider to be optimal for different distances and circumstances.

The groundwork I did in the first 6 months though is a big factor I believe in how consistent my stroke length is now. Recently I have started to push my fitness sets to a new level (100-200m repeats at 0.96), whilst this is on the edge of my current aerobic capacities, my SPL doesn't wonder significantly despite the effort level.

I am still a beginner swimmer in many ways and have spent this year on a fairly even plateau from time perspectives but I can see step changes in results around the corner.

It reminds me of the early scene in karate kid where he makes him hang the coat up over and over again. The skill isn't in the exercise itself but in knowing when to tell the student why he's hanging the coat up and when he doesn't need to do it any longer?
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2012
Grant Grant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
I coached the sprint group at West Point from 1996-99. What I taught them was consistent with what we taught at workshops at that time. And what I taught them was to wring all possible speed from controlled SPLs in practice, but to swim freely in races simply having trust in the efficiency imprinted in training. Just as Popov did.

We explicitly stated in workshops in the mid-90s: "The goal is to optimize, not maximize, your Stroke Length."
Thank you Terry. That is a very important and valuable distinction.
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
Hallo,


How have we to think or be aware or teach our brain to prevent this for-now-best-stroke from breaking down. What makes it so difficult to swim on just with less force, just with a little tired arms... Although we know by heart our goal will be reached easier with our better strokes.

Well, I'm sure even my most fatigued stroke now is a better one than the stroke swum when started my TI journey before 18 months. Forgive me a little provocational question as last: Are Shinji, Terry and all other TI-coaches are even able to swim still a bad stroke?

Best regards,
Werner
I'm constantly confronted by my tri "brethren"'s insistance on intervals and speed work for swimming. Sendoffs of 100s on the 1:20s x 10, 15, 20 repeats, etc etc.

For as many times as I hear Terry speak about performance in a TI oriented framework, his insights never ceases to amaze me. This for example:

Quote:
If you've swum solo, but guided by a workout downloaded from the internet, said workout is highly likely to have language in it that instructs you to do this set "Hard."
And in neither instance is it likely you were encouraged to avoid splash or uncontrolled increase in SPL.
and this...
Quote:
What we don't have is a culture that encourages you to exercise in ways that require you to work your brain as much as your muscles. Focus isn't easy. Nor is it natural. It's a skill that one must work to develop. In some ways it's more of a challenge than learning physical skills.
and this ...

Quote:
And Kaizen is embodied in certain characteristic behaviors. Among the most important of them is that Kaizen swimmers are error-focused. We are tireless about finding and fixing weak spots
And when people do this consistently...not just on the day you decide to swim the "TI Way" and the rest of the week with a squad, when it becomes imprinted in the way you choose to act every moment in the pool, on the track or on your bike...speed just comes.

But to answer the OPs query...simply choose a task and focus on completing it...as an example, I'd figured that to swim a PR in a 500yd freestyle, I would need to sustain 16 SPL at a specific tempo (1.3) with 3 beeps push off and 4 beeps for turns when possible.

The task took 3 weeks to accomplish and when I had finally completed the 500 yards at 16 SPL with the tempo trainer set, my immediate thoughts were twofold
-my first thought, "My turns took 4-6 beeps..I can do better that that next time"
-my second thought, "Wow, look at that...I just set a PR".

I'd set to accomplish a task, 16 SPL@ 1.3 tempo for 500yards. The execution of this task helped me build the focus that Terry talks about. The adherence and attention to the 16 SPL...even thought it was sometimes 17 or 18 helped me improve my ability to get my rotator cuffs to cooperate even when they were tired. The eventual accomplishment of this simple task proved to me that this method simply works. I never swim harder or faster or kicked more or did a pull or kick set in that 3 weeks....Yet I took about 20 seconds off my 500 PR. That's not fitness...that's focus and neuromuscular cooperation. The fitness required to do that routinely without it being a strain on my attention span or a constant reminder to hold form came naturally...after the fact...after I'd already achieved it by repeating the task. That task then seemed easy and I moved on to different tasks.

Eg...swimming a 1000 straight by started a 500 easy with focal points, then swimming the 2nd 500 at the above settings (I'd set my TT to 1.3 but just ignored it for the first 500). I set another PR doing that and had an incredible 17+ minutes of swimming that passed like a flash, focused and engaged the entire time.

Not sure if that answers any questions, but that's what's on my mind.
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  #8  
Old 10-27-2012
Grant Grant is offline
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Suzanne's commentary on Terry's post is a great follow up. Between the two posts a great deal of information and awareness is provided in a very concise manner. You both present an enlightening service to us all.
I read this website every day and always find pearls that I can take back to the pool every time as well as in my non pool life.
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
And I must disagree with Charles's contention that it was ever a TI doctrine that swimmers should maintain the same low SPL when racing as in intentionally more careful practice. I coached the sprint group at West Point from 1996-99. What I taught them was consistent with what we taught at workshops at that time. And what I taught them was to wring all possible speed from controlled SPLs in practice, but to swim freely in races simply having trust in the efficiency imprinted in training.
Officially, and for the records, this post here proves you right:

http://www.tritalk.co.uk/forums/view...=163637#163637

There was a lot of noise on the line though in these years, but not enough to stop the official message to surface every now and then, mostly coming from the person having established (in part) the TI Tradition in the UK, namely late Ian Smith.

Thanks Terry.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 10-27-2012 at 11:02 PM.
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  #10  
Old 10-28-2012
terry terry is offline
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Charles
I marvel that you were able to locate - or recall from memory - a post Ian Smith made to that forum over 7 years ago! It was moving to read his words today, nearly a year after his untimely death from heart attack.
I'm happy to report, having returned from a coach training in the UK earlier this week, that his mantle of leadership has been taken up most ably by Jai Evans (Ian's 'right hand' for most of the time he led TI-UK) and Tracey Baumann, and that the coaches Ian trained are a most impressive and strikingly impassioned group. They all honor his memory.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

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