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  #21  
Old 06-15-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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The major part of your resistance in the water is your entire cross section against the direction you are swimming. That includes your whole body, most swimmers drop their hips and legs down and present a large surface against the water. Whether your arm is in or out of the water for that small amount of time we are talking about might affect the drag by 1% if any. If the deeper arm angle helps to bring your hips and legs up, that should help by about 10% (roughly) and if you have excellent alignment even more. So a -1% balanced by +10% equals a significant net gain.

Also, the angled entry puts less strain on the shoulder in general, and also having better control of the rotation and catch provides more power.

As I said, that little bit of resistance of the hand in the water for a mail slot entry is fairly insignificant.

Whether elite swimmers do it or not is less important, since they all have minimized their resistance, and a higher arm entry doesn't throw off their balance. But during the Olympics, I saw several top sprinters who had a mailslot entry.
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  #22  
Old 06-15-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Originally Posted by madvet View Post
The major part of your resistance in the water is your entire cross section against the direction you are swimming. That includes your whole body, most swimmers drop their hips and legs down and present a large surface against the water...
Also, the angled entry puts less strain on the shoulder in general, and also having better control of the rotation and catch provides more power.
...Whether elite swimmers do it or not is less important, since they all have minimized their resistance, and a higher arm entry doesn't throw off their balance. But during the Olympics, I saw several top sprinters who had a mailslot entry.
The fact that Naj mentioned that these two critics never took their fins off is signifigant. How many people insist that they need fins for all their swimming due to shoulder issues? Or because they have a "weak kick"? I guess if your body is not balanced in the water, you really do have to rely on arm and shoulder strength, as these two insisted he needed to.
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  #23  
Old 06-29-2009
terry terry is offline
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Originally Posted by edlevin View Post
Here are two cents on the hand entry question. (Disclaimer -I'm a novice, but have looked at video pretty obsessively)

I think the root of the confusion is maybe failing to make the distinction between what works for elite swimmers, and what works for the rest of us.

Yes, physics tells us it's easier to move your arm through air than water. And it's a fact that elite swimmers do not spear downward in TI fashion. In fact, their hands enter far forward over the water, and stay close to the surface. I think the reason they do this is closely related to EVF. For elite swimmers there's an advantage in having the hand close to the surface - it's the optimal point for initiating an EVF catch. They have to make a slight non-propulsive downward motion - but it's worth it for them because their catch is so effective.

So, yes, there's less resistance when you move your arm through the air - but what do you do with your arm when it's in the water? If, like 99% of us, you can't do EVF, you're better off with compromise - spearing slightly downward, where normal people can start to get an effective catch.

Which gets us back to that anti-TI swim coach - he may be right about that Brazilian medalist he coached. But those techniques don't apply to the rest of us.
Ed's is a good analysis. I can add a bit more detail to it. It's not simply that elites swim differently than the rest of us in some respects (where it makes sense we try to emulate them), it's that TI methodology has always given primary consideration to the needs and goals of its students and enthusiasts. Those happen to be adults whose goals are typically more oriented to swimming a mile or more and feeling like they could swim another mile when they finish. And in many cases, those goals also include OW swimming.

We'd teach differently if our students were more interested in swimming a fast 100 meters in the pool.

Here's the thing: Open water and pool swimming are completely different. Fitness swimming and Olympic final racing are also completely different. A running analogy might help: The 100-meter specialists on a club or college running team train in radically different ways than the cross-country runners. Likewise open water swimmers – especially those who need to cycle and run for hours after an “open water race” -- need to train in radically different ways than pool swimmers. Virtually anyone you encounter at a pool or other swim venue is most likely to understand swimming based on things they see competitive swimmers and teams do. But swim meets are nothing like open water -- or fitness -- swims.

For instance, at the Mens NCAA Swimming Championships, the average duration of 17 events, including relay legs, was a bit over 3 minutes; 13 of the 17 events involved swims of under 2 minutes duration; and no event lasted longer than 15 minutes. And when you factor in turns, non-stroking time accounted for about 30% of total time in these events.

In triathlon, considering sprints (400-800m swims), Olympic distance (1500m), 70.3 (1900m) and Ironman (3800m) races, average swimming time for all tri swim legs is over 40 minutes –1200 percent greater than college race duration -- and allows for no non-stroking time. Thus, triathlon swimming – even before considering bruising contact, rough water and navigating challenges – is a completely different sport than pool swimming, and thus calls for a completely different way of training.

Yesterday I swam a 5K race at Coney Island. There was a long leg against a current. As a result my finish time -- usually between 1:15 and 1:20 for a 5K -- was 1 hr 55 min. If I averaged a stroke rate of 1.2 sec/stroke (estimating conservatively) I took about 5600 uninterrupted strokes -- about 46,000 percent more uninterrupted strokes than a college freestyler takes when racing.

The college freestyler's technique is far more likely to emphasize maximal arm forces, for maximal short-term speed. My technique needs to emphasize minimal arm forces for maximal sustainability.

That's why TI technique -- Marionette Arms, Mail Slot entry, Patient Catch -- strikes so many people as "wrong." Wrong for maximizing your speed over short duration. But clearly right for distance, OW and triathlon swimming.

By the way, Lou Tharp's athlete, Nicholas Sterghos, a member of the West Point Tri Team, who graduated from the Academy a few weeks ago, placed 2nd in his age group and 15th overall at the Philadelphia Triathlon today. Since there were 37 pros in the field, Nicholas beat 22 pros.

But here's the really exciting news. His 1500m swim was 18:16 - a stunning time for a kid who, three years ago, could only swim 25 yards. TI Technique is what got him there.

Congratulations Lou and Nicholas.
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Last edited by terry : 06-29-2009 at 02:45 AM.
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  #24  
Old 06-29-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
By the way, Lou Tharp's athlete, Nicholas Sterghos, a member of the West Point Tri Team, who graduated from the Academy a few weeks ago, placed 2nd in his age group and 15th overall at the Philadelphia Triathlon today. Since there were 37 pros in the field, Nicholas beat 22 pros.

But here's the really exciting news. His 1500m swim was 18:16 - a stunning time for a kid who, three years ago, could only swim 25 yards. TI Technique is what got him there.

Congratulations Lou and Nicholas.
omedetou! Amazing news.

BTW, who is this Terry guy and why does he think he knows everything about TI?! Joking!

Oh, I was thinking recently that TI at high speeds might not look the way I had originally thought. I assumed there would be a pronounced forward extension of the lead arm. But TI technique seems to favour a steeper arm angle. So, now I'm thinking that the lead arm would remain in more of a crescent shape. Of course, I don't really know.
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  #25  
Old 06-29-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Originally Posted by terry View Post
...Open water and pool swimming are completely different. Fitness swimming and Olympic final racing are also completely different. A running analogy might help: The 100-meter specialists on a club or college running team train in radically different ways than the cross-country runners. Likewise open water swimmers – especially those who need to cycle and run for hours after an “open water race” -- need to train in radically different ways than pool swimmers. Virtually anyone you encounter at a pool or other swim venue is most likely to understand swimming based on things they see competitive swimmers and teams do. But swim meets are nothing like open water -- or fitness -- swims.

Yesterday I swam a 5K race at Coney Island. There was a long leg against a current. As a result my finish time -- usually between 1:15 and 1:20 for a 5K -- was 1 hr 55 min. If I averaged a stroke rate of 1.2 sec/stroke (estimating conservatively) I took about 5600 uninterrupted strokes -- about 46,000 percent more uninterrupted strokes than a college freestyler takes when racing....
...That's why TI technique -- Marionette Arms, Mail Slot entry, Patient Catch -- strikes so many people as "wrong." Wrong for maximizing your speed over short duration. But clearly right for distance, OW and triathlon swimming.

By the way, Lou Tharp's athlete, Nicholas Sterghos, a member of the West Point Tri Team, who graduated from the Academy a few weeks ago, placed 2nd in his age group and 15th overall at the Philadelphia Triathlon today. Since there were 37 pros in the field, Nicholas beat 22 pros.

But here's the really exciting news. His 1500m swim was 18:16 - a stunning time for a kid who, three years ago, could only swim 25 yards. TI Technique is what got him there.

Congratulations Lou and Nicholas.
Wow, that's really impressive!

I'm still amazed at Naj's accomplishments in the last 8-9 months, going from learning to swim to doing long distances in open water in such a short time.

Terry, is there any benefit at all to doing pool racing type workouts in the winter? On my last Swimtrek tour, the guides told me I should consider moving up to longer distances, in the 5k range, based on their observation of how I gradually caught up with faster groups on the longest swims. (3.5k and 5k). I'm not sure I'd want to do that unless I got a bit faster. Even with the wetsuit, it took me nearly two hours to do the 5k Gozo channel swim. I seem to have hit a plateau, in terms of speed and stroke count.
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  #26  
Old 06-30-2009
terry terry is offline
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Rhoda
Rather than pool racing workouts, you could get great benefit from neural training in the pool.
Here's the difference. In pool racing workouts, you're focused mainly on other people(trying to keep up with or beat them) and the pace clock (what will it say when I touch the wall).

In neural training, you're focused on YOU. More specifically on awareness and improvement of specific combinations of SPL and Stroke Rate,which gives you a concrete and empirical measure of how you're doing. You might say that pace clock does that - say you swam 1:50 for a 100m repeat -- but it provides no information on how efficiently you swam that 1:50 or whether a different SPL might have resulted in an easier 1:50 or even a 1:49.

To illustrate neural training, here are notes I kept on my training for the last several days. As you'll see it's nothing like any Masters workout you'll find in the world.

Saturday AM 5K race at Coney Island Won 55-59 age group in 1:55. Time was fairly slow (I usually swim 5K in 1:15 to 1:20 and last month I swam a 3.5 mile race [640 meters farther] on an ocean course in 1:33. But we had a long leg against the current.



Sunday PM 4 x 800 at Lake Minnewaska with Tempo Trainer

#1 13:08 @ 1.09 (722 strokes)

#2 12:47 @ 1.07 (716 strokes)

#3 12:43 @ 1.05 (726 strokes)

#4 12:28 @ 1.03 (726 strokes)

This was a most interesting practice. It's a significant advantage to be able to swim on a measured course (200 yards along a rope line) at Minnewaska.

At times in the past I've counted strokes to check my efficiency. For years I had not timed my swims at Minne, but mainly monitored my stroke count, and correlated it with various focal points. This practice showed me that my Stroke Length was generally improved more by "active streamlining" focal points, than by "catch-and-stroke" oriented focal points.

Over several years -- and 100s of hours of focal point practice – I arrived at a consistently higher level of efficiency with little or no variation when I changed focal points. At that point I began using the Tempo Trainer at Minnewaska. I wasn’t timing my swims so focused mainly on adapting to higher frequencies, as measured kinesthetically.

If I felt unhurried and relaxed, no sense of “wheelspinning” on my catch, then I could continue increasing tempo. If I felt rushed or rough, I wouldn’t increase tempo until my catch felt unhurried and firm and I felt relaxed. My main empirical measure was knowing my tempo and being able to associate it with a “feeling.” Now and again I’d count strokes, but along a 200-yd rope line, with counts reaching as high as 180 strokes, it’s easy to lose – or doubt – count.

This year I began timing my Minne swims with a sports watch and realized if I just divided my time by the tempo I'd know the number of strokes I took. I now have three valuable bits of information on each swim.

Time - empirical measure of speed
Stroke Count - empirical measure of efficiency
Mojo - qualitative measure of how good I felt - smooth, non-fatigued, in a groove.

The last, though non-empirical, is still important because, during a race it’s all I have to go on. Thus, for me, it’s a valuable predictor of whether a training set is helping prepare me for a good race.

In this example, the 4th 800 in the set above was a success by traditional measures because I swam 15 sec faster. More important, I swam faster by taking each stroke .02 faster, yet traveling the same distance on each stroke.

(Caveat: It takes high skill and a lot of practice to do this. I will seldom encounter a competitor in OW who has this skill.)

That 800 was also good on the Mojo Scale because - while I did work harder on it -- the level of increased effort felt very much as if I could sustain it almost indefinitely.



Monday AM 2900m at Ulster County Pool

Set #1 8 x 100 counting strokes.

Odd 100s with 1 finger – averaged 89 strokes/100, Even 100s with full hand. Averaged 72 strokes.

Set #2 18 x 100 with TT, in pairs (Odd with 1 finger – averaged Even with full hand)

Each pair of 100s @ 1.10, 1.15, 1.20, 1.25, 1.30, 1.25, 1.20, 1.15, 1.10 to see how increasing/decreasing tempo affected stroke count.

The goal is to subtract strokes going up the ladder and avoid adding them as I came down.

I couldn’t recall all the stroke counts after the set (I need to find a way to record them) but did discover I had an “inflection point at 1.20 tempo.

At or above that tempo I could minimize addition of strokes.

Below it, SPL increased significantly.

This tells me that, on sets like this, I have a better chance of effectively “trading strokes for speed” at tempos from 1.20 to 1.30. I’ll test it again on my next session at the pool.


Set #3 4 x 50 at 1.10 descending SPL - 39-38-37-36.

This set is interesting in that it requires me to travel farther in the 1.1 second interval allowed for each stroke. I was successful by focusing on both more powerful leg drive and weight shift to spear forward – and on keeping my drag low. As propulsive power increased, so would drag, so it was essential to do a better job piercing the water
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 06-30-2009 at 10:23 PM.
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  #27  
Old 07-10-2009
sabali33 sabali33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmuni View Post
I swim with a Masters group under the instruction of a person who has coached several elite swimmers, including a Brazilian olympic medalist.

When I mentioned to him that I was focusing on core rotation to generate hip power which would be channeled to my spearing arm, he looked at me as if I was on some kind of drug. He told me to forget all that and focus on pulling harder, extending my stroke and improving my aerobic condition. He points at other in our group that are clearly faster than me with their diverse styles, none of which include the TI concepts.

How can I win an argument against someone like that? Clearly the empirical facts are on his side and I have to learn to live with that. I am not giving up, but hope that some day my TI work will allow me to improve my times significantly and prove me right.
hi
I also think the coach probably thinks differently. TI has not only thought me how to swim. In fact it has given me an insight and understanding of what goes into many sporting activities. Most at times many coaches and spectators get deceived by an athlete's physical state during performance. Athletes who are fortunate to have got natural feel of an event fail to understand the art behind their performance and so are their coaches. Yes it is the case that there are some people on the team that can obviously swim better than you. but there are others you can also do better than. Has the coach been able to point out why those ones are not able to do better?

What I am simply saying is that a coach merely coaching someone who does better than you does not mean he is aware of the art that goes into his fields. Who knows? maybe that athlete is fortunate to have got that sense of observing the right techniques.
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  #28  
Old 07-11-2009
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Originally Posted by terry View Post
Ed's is a good analysis. I can add a bit more detail to it. It's not simply that elites swim differently than the rest of us in some respects (where it makes sense we try to emulate them), it's that TI methodology has always given primary consideration to the needs and goals of its students and enthusiasts. Those happen to be adults whose goals are typically more oriented to swimming a mile or more and feeling like they could swim another mile when they finish. And in many cases, those goals also include OW swimming.

We'd teach differently if our students were more interested in swimming a fast 100 meters in the pool.
I'll expand a bit on what Terry said:

Several years ago, I had a forum discussion with another swimmer about the swimming technique of Pieter van den Hoogenband. The discussion was very confusing at first, because I felt that van den Hoogenband's technique had a number of TI-like elements, whereas the other swimmer didn't think it was very TI-like at all. Finally, the other swimmer pointed me to the video he was looking at, and I figured out what the problem was: He had been looking at a video of van den Hoogenband swimming the 50m freestyle, while I had been looking at a video of him swimming the 200m freestyle. And his technique was significantly different in the two videos, even though both videos were from the same Olympics!

I've found something similar with my own swimming. Last year, for example, I did personal best times in both 100y backstroke and 50y backstroke (in the latter, I broke a personal best time I had been trying to break for nearly 3 years). But I didn't do personal best times in both events at the same meet, even though I swam 50y backstroke at the meet where I set my new PB time in 100y backstroke. At that meet, I had set a personal 2nd best time in 50y backstroke, but I was still more than a second over my PB time in that event. I did my new PB time in 50y backstroke two months later, and for that meet, 50y backstroke was the only backstroke event for which I trained.

Does this mean that the Total Immersion approach is only useful for distance events? Not at all! Here is my way of explaining it:

There are some things you can do in the water that will use lots of energy and slow you down. And there are some things you can do in the water that will save lots of energy and speed you up. Regardless of whether you're doing sprinting or distance swimming, you want to avoid the first and seek the second.

But there are also some things you can do in the water that will use lots of energy but save you time. And those are things you want to do in a sprint event but avoid in a distance event (at least, until the very end). One obvious example of this is using a six-beat rather than a two-beat kick.

Keep in mind, too, that what constitutes a "distance event" depends to a significant degree on your level of fitness. An elite swimmer may have enough energy reserves to utilize energy-consuming-but-time-saving sprint techniques for 200m or longer, but a beginning competitive swimmer may not be able to maintain such techniques even for 50m.
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  #29  
Old 07-23-2009
vol vol is offline
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I very much appreciate TI's focusing on relaxed yet efficient swimming and good forms. I like to watch the TI coaches swimming in sync, which enhances what TI style is like.
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  #30  
Old 08-13-2009
Nicodemus Nicodemus is offline
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Hi,
I can't resist adding my own opinions on this thread...

Empirical Facts -
Pmuni - The fact that some people in the club are faster does not prove a thing. There are all sorts of other factors to consider such as age, size, fitness, years of training. Can I 'prove' that Karate is better than Judo by putting a large, strong, fit black belt Karateka against a smaller, weaker, green belt Jodoka?? Of course not!

And what about the guys in the club who are slower than you? Does the coach tell them that TI is better than their approach? I bet not!

What really matters is that your swimming will continuously improve, whereas most others will be 'running to stay in the same place'. If you want empirical evidence, keep a diary of your performance over the years. I am sure you will start to overtake some of those people who are 'better' swimmers than you. Maybe one day they will be asking you what your secret is!

Science???
The problem with debates about what is 'scientific' is that we tend to focus on one aspect without considering the whole context.
Yes, air is less dense than water so easier to move through. That is why in freestyle the arm is recovered through air rather than underwater.
So 'logically' we should do as much movement through the air as possible??? Like fully extending the arm before entry? Sorry - no, because there are so many other factors to consider. If you extend over the water, then how does your arm get to catch position? It must (a) push down - bad, or (b) 'float down. But then there is a big delay in your stroke. So maybe we should (c) recover the arm over the water earlier in the stroke to give it time to float down to catch position? But then we aren't spearing in time with the kick, hip & pull.
We could debate this forever - but I actually went to the pool and tried it. And it felt TERRIBLE!
IMHO the real science in swimming is all about (1) streamlining & (2) harnessing core rotational power.

I am not a member of a club, I swim at my local public pool. And I notice that there are fewer and fewer people faster than me. Are they getting slower? No. I am improving. That is the kind of empirical evidence I like!

N
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