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  #1  
Old 03-18-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
Default Experimenting with Recovery

After reading lots of comments about kicking from the hip, and after getting feedback on a couple of my videos, I've dedicated this week to focusing on my recovery--picking up on Coach Stuart's repeated advice that if you pay attention to the proper recovery and spearing, the catch will take care of itself.

I've been swimming lots of this kind of set:

20 x 25, alternate drilling (fingertip drag, ear hops) and mindful swimming

Then getting to sets like this:

5 X (2 x 25 drill, 1 x 50 swim)

I want to spend a whole week (10,000 m or so) focusing intensely on grooving a new movement pattern based on elbow-led recovery before trying anything longer than a 50m repeat. At the end of the week I'll re-assess and see if I'm ready to move on. Here's what I've seen so far:

1. When I get the elbow lead right, my elbow and arm seems to FALL forward into the proper position automatically. I've heard references to a "weightless arm" but this is the first time I felt it so strongly--makes me feel I'm on the right track.

2. "Wide tracks" is a useful focal point for the RECOVERY motion, and not just for the spearing motion. Perhaps this has been obvious for other swimmers, but it was a bit of a revelation to me. And I'm finding that this focus helps me avoid sweeping in my pulling arm close to my hip with a forceful finish to my pull, which may help solve some of my zig-zagging problems.

3. A slight OUTWARD motion of the elbow to begin seems important (for me, anyway, with my history/old habit of stacked elbow recovery). This outward motion of the elbow feels quite different from what I've been doing, almost as if throwing an elbow at someone's face in a fight.

4. A 90-degree elbow bend is important to avoid stacked elbows and over-rotation. To help with that, a focal point I've found useful is to feel like a spider balancing on those wide tracks--I feel like I look something like this in a head-on view:

^o^

5. When I return to whole stroke swimming after lots of drill/swim, my body felt loose and relaxed, like a whip that's waiting to be cracked. I think that means there is more hip drive in my kick/spear.

6. I have lost some SPL--by old usual routine low was 12. My new routine low seems to be 14. This may be in part because of my shorter pull, also partly because of unfamiliarity as I focus on new sensations. It doesn't worry me at all for now, just noticed it.

7. There seems to be a hint of a new smoothness and maybe more lat/hip engagement in my stroke when I focus on this. Cruising speed remains about the same, but maybe just a touch easier.

Anyway, my new focus on elbow-led recovery seems to be leading in some very productive directions--thanks, everyone, for your comments on my videos and other advice. I'm really curious to see what my stroke will feel like after 10,000 m of drill/swim focus like this.
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
2. "Wide tracks" is a useful focal point for the RECOVERY motion, and not just for the spearing motion. Perhaps this has been obvious for other swimmers, but it was a bit of a revelation to me. And I'm finding that this focus helps me avoid sweeping in my pulling arm close to my hip with a forceful finish to my pull, which may help solve some of my zig-zagging problems.
I'm sorry, but i may have missed or didn't notice this point being brought up in your previous discussions. Is pulling close to the body as you pass the shoulder and chest area and get to the hip always bad? I would have thought it might be more efficient from a muscular effort viewpoint. Is it always likely to lead to zig-zagging?
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2015
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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This all sounds great.
You have a good swimming foundation.
Very good you are now focussing on cleaning up the details and polisihing the rough edges of your stroke.
Al long as your DPS doesnt go above 15-16 I wouldnt worry too much about it and focus on continuous movements along a sound logical movement path.
When these movements become automatic incresing DPS can be the next step.
Curious to see where this is going..
Take your time.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2015
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
^o^
This is awesome!
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

7. There seems to be a hint of a new smoothness and maybe more lat/hip engagement in my stroke when I focus on this. Cruising speed remains about the same, but maybe just a touch easier.

Anyway, my new focus on elbow-led recovery seems to be leading in some very productive directions--thanks, everyone, for your comments on my videos and other advice. I'm really curious to see what my stroke will feel like after 10,000 m of drill/swim focus like this.
Hi Tom,
all good news, especially the 7th because it means efficiency improvement. If your goal is still to race in the 10 mile Kingdom Swim on July 25th, on one hand it is important to experiment and find your easiest/injury free stroke. On the other hand anyway, since it's also 4 months to go, it is also important to settle down with your easy stroke and keep in mind what you perhaps have already read here.
I would add that being able to swim straight will be more important that having a long stroke or a perfect kick timing etc.. And, in order to swim straight over 10 miles, you could need to sight hundreds of times (it doesn't come for free and needs to be mastered).
In short, if I were you, I would start training my pacing skills, endurance and open water skills asap, especially if your target time is 5h. Perhaps you could also lose some more SPL, but as long as your pace (and confidence) improves I wouldn't worry about it much (maybe I would worry more about stroke rate, but it's just my 2c).

Best regards,
Salvo
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclim View Post
I'm sorry, but i may have missed or didn't notice this point being brought up in your previous discussions. Is pulling close to the body as you pass the shoulder and chest area and get to the hip always bad? I would have thought it might be more efficient from a muscular effort viewpoint. Is it always likely to lead to zig-zagging?
For me, the issue was that I was entering/spearing wide, and my pull was diagonal, ending much closer to the body (i.e. brushing my hip) than it began, and imparting some sideways momentum and a zig-zag action that some people pointed out in my video.
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
I would add that being able to swim straight will be more important that having a long stroke or a perfect kick timing etc.. And, in order to swim straight over 10 miles, you could need to sight hundreds of times (it doesn't come for free and needs to be mastered).
In short, if I were you, I would start training my pacing skills, endurance and open water skills asap, especially if your target time is 5h. Perhaps you could also lose some more SPL, but as long as your pace (and confidence) improves I wouldn't worry about it much (maybe I would worry more about stroke rate, but it's just my 2c).

Best regards,
Salvo
Salvo,

thanks--it's always an interesting balancing act about continuous improvement vs. needing to prepare NOW for a race, isn't it? I'm hoping if I can use a focus on recovery to straighten out some of my zig-zagging and get more relaxation, it'll pay off in the 10-miler. I think generally my technique is good enough to get me to the finish comfortably, but I figured one more technique-intensive week would be worth it. Thanks for the reminder about sighting; I'll start adding that in tomorrow. I'll also add in some eyes-closed swimming to see what my directional tendencies are and what work I'll need to do on that.

As for pacing I think I'll be doing the event at 15-16 SPL at whatever cruising pace is happening for me by then, so I'm going to do much of my training at 14 SPL to prepare for that. 14 felt pretty comfortable today for short repeats--hit some 13's as well. So I agree, I'm pretty set with SPL for now. I'm going to work at extending my 14 SPL repeat lengths and working toward faster tempos, mainly.

As for a 5-hour finish, I'm curious about it rather than aiming for it. My pace will have to be substantially faster than a 5-hour pace once you factor in eating and sighting and all that. I have no idea if I'll come close or not.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 03-19-2015 at 09:14 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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A few more thoughts on my recovery-focused session today.

1. Everything in the first post still feels true, which is encouraging.

2. I made a neat little discovery about kick timing today: I started to begin my kick almost immediately after hand entry, as if the hand entry were a grace note (or a flam, if you're a snare drummer) and the kick is the main note. In other words, not quite simultaneous, but following so quickly the hand entry and kick almost seem to overlap.

It seems to work well for me right now--has anyone else tried that kind of timing for the 2bk?

3. Focusing on elbows and relaxed arms seems to encourage relaxation throughout the body. I definitely feel looser and more supple swimming this way, and hit some very relaxed 13 SPL lengths today. It feels like swimming without "trying," which is exactly what I want it to feel like. Hit some 50m repeats in the low :40's today without obvious effort other than focusing on the feel of the recovery intensely, which felt really good--that's getting to be pretty fast for me.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 03-19-2015 at 09:16 PM.
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  #9  
Old 03-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
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Originally Posted by tomoy View Post
This is awesome!
I'm curious whether other TI swimmers and coaches feel like that little graphic is a good focal point or not--any thoughts on that? It really does feel like I'm trying to look like that as I recover now (don't know how much I actually DO look like that, of course...)

Here is the head-on view focal point graphic again:

^o^

Any opinions on whether this is correct or useful?
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  #10  
Old 03-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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One more thought from today's session:

Working on elbows and recovery so much, I noticed that my hand is now entering with a straight wrist--I had been bending the wrist and pointing the fingertips down before entry. This change happened all by itself. I think it's a good thing--my fingertips do drop slightly below the hand once it's in the water, but the exaggerated wrist bend is gone or reduced, without even needing to work on it.

I think it may be happening because focusing so much on elbow lead and weightless arm has increased relaxation throughout my entire arm. My bent-wrist entry, I think, was my body's attempt to fool itself into thinking the arm was relaxed before, when really, it wasn't.

Very interesting to just kind of sit back and watch these things happen!
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