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  #1  
Old 05-14-2012
Ladyfish Ladyfish is offline
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Ladyfish
Default Which SPL to use with TT?

I am sure this info is somewhere in this forum but there are so many experts out there I hope someone can give me a quick answer.

I can do one length in 9 SPL if I r-e-a-l-l-y stretch and swim in very slow motion.
I can 20 one length in 13 SPL too, for up to 30 min.
When I don't focus on stroke count because I am focusing on another aspect of stroke, SPL is about 17 which I can also sustain for 30 min or more.

So which SPL do I use when using my TT to improve speed?

Thanks!
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Ironman Series Books "Fearless Swimming For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2011)" and "Functional Strength For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2012)" and others
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  #2  
Old 05-14-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladyfish View Post
I am sure this info is somewhere in this forum but there are so many experts out there I hope someone can give me a quick answer.

I can do one length in 9 SPL if I r-e-a-l-l-y stretch and swim in very slow motion.
I can 20 one length in 13 SPL too, for up to 30 min.
When I don't focus on stroke count because I am focusing on another aspect of stroke, SPL is about 17 which I can also sustain for 30 min or more.

So which SPL do I use when using my TT to improve speed?

Thanks!
Hey Ladyfish, you may recall from Shinji's seminar that we talked about superman glide and that there were 2 ways to do SG. the first is to do the ultimate SG (like in Shinji's video) and the second is to practice SG to maximize swimming. Both have merits for swimming, but I think if you try practicing for ultimate SG, you'll discover that you may do things with your body that aren't fully applicable to swimming (like when Shinji's fingers poke up through the surface of the water - he's pressing his chest so much to maintain horizontal position that his fingers exit the water somewhat!).

I think the same applies to SPL. You can swim lengths with a goal for minimal SPL - this is great for practicing a lot of aspects for swimming. But I think that you'll find that you're going probably slower than you'd want for a race. That will naturally mean a higher tempo.

I used to practice minimal SPL exclusively. It was actually hard, demanding, focused swimming. It's not easy to remain in good streamline and balance at a very low tempo. And my normal swimming got better because of it.

Lately, I've been prepping for a race and have less focus on specific SPL although I do keep mindful of it. I'm more in the tempo range of 15-20 at a range of tempos from 1.2s to 0.9s. But within an interval, I know I'm getting tired when my first length is 16 but I drift towards 18 as I hit the last few lengths on a 25y pool.

So I would take whatever tempo you might feel comfortable swimming at, which generates a given SPL for a given length of pool, and use that as the starting point. Say that's 17 for you. Then I would use that as a benchmark from there as you vary tempo from that point.
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Old 05-14-2012
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Sorry, no answer, but I have this same question - where to start with the Tempo Trainer and I too believe I can find the answer if I look on the forum really hard, but hey, you just posted what I was thinking!

I just got a TT last week and have 2 sessions. First I tried 1.6 > 1.5 > 1.4 > 1.3. I left thinking 1.4 was where I'm natural. Second outing, I started at 1.4 > 1.35 > 1.3. Ended up thinking 1.37 was a good rate for where I'm currently at.

At 1.5 I think I can do ~13 SPL. 1.4 ~15. 1.3 ~17. I settled at 1.37 because I could keep going (400-800Y) and maintain 16 SPL. But I really do wonder what's next. I'm thinking try to get to 1.35 and maintain 16 SPL. Then try to get to 1.3 and then lower. But my question is the same: how does one determine which SPL should I lock into?

All I can say is that by feel, 14 SPL feels too slow/long. And if I do an 'easy' 18 SPL it seems like I'm slipping water or cranking the arms kind of uselessly.
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2012
Ladyfish Ladyfish is offline
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Thanks David, that helps a lot. I will start with that and get working with the tempo trainer......what race are you going to do?
__________________
http://www.Fearlessswimming.com
Instruction for New and Nervous Swimmers in Irvine, CA
Ironman Series Books "Fearless Swimming For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2011)" and "Functional Strength For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2012)" and others
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  #5  
Old 05-14-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoy View Post
Sorry, no answer, but I have this same question - where to start with the Tempo Trainer and I too believe I can find the answer if I look on the forum really hard, but hey, you just posted what I was thinking!

I just got a TT last week and have 2 sessions. First I tried 1.6 > 1.5 > 1.4 > 1.3. I left thinking 1.4 was where I'm natural. Second outing, I started at 1.4 > 1.35 > 1.3. Ended up thinking 1.37 was a good rate for where I'm currently at.

At 1.5 I think I can do ~13 SPL. 1.4 ~15. 1.3 ~17. I settled at 1.37 because I could keep going (400-800Y) and maintain 16 SPL. But I really do wonder what's next. I'm thinking try to get to 1.35 and maintain 16 SPL. Then try to get to 1.3 and then lower. But my question is the same: how does one determine which SPL should I lock into?

All I can say is that by feel, 14 SPL feels too slow/long. And if I do an 'easy' 18 SPL it seems like I'm slipping water or cranking the arms kind of uselessly.
First, a target SPL range for swimming at a decent pace can be derived by this chart that Terry posted a while back:

SPL can be roughly approximated to height and skill. I’ve prepared this height-indexed rough guide for 25-yard SPL (for 25m, add 1 to 2 SPL) to give swimmers a broad target:

5’0” to 5’ 2” 18 to 21 SPL
5’3” to 5’5” 17 to 20 SPL
5’6” to 5’ 8” 16 to 19 SPL
5’9” to 5’ 11” 15 to 18 SPL
6’0” to 6’2” 14 to 17 SPL
6’3” or taller 13 to 16 SPL

How to use it:

• Each height category is indexed to a range of 4 SPL. As you begin stroke counting, a personal range of 3 SPL will be sufficient.
• If you find that balance is elusive, your legs feel “heavy” or find it difficult to relax your kick, use the highest 3 counts in your range. (E.G. If you are 5’7” aim for 17 to 19 SPL.)
• If you feel generally well-supported with a relaxed kick, use the lower 3 counts in your range. (E.G. If you’re 5’7” aim for 16 to 18 SPL.)
• Aim to swim 25-yard repeats at the lowest count in your personal range. Use the upper 2 SPL in your range for middle or final laps on any repeat or swim. Stop for a rest or “reset” when you exceed the highest count in your range.


Now that you have a goal range for your particular height, you rest easy if you are within this range. If you are above it, you may want to spend more time on drilling streamline and balance.

There is one caveat - as your tempo increases, your SPL will most likely increase at some point.

That begs the question: what is a proper tempo for racing, for workouts, for recovery, etc?

For a race, an elite's tempo can be .8s or even faster especially for short distance sprinting. For us mere mortals, if you can sustain 1.0s you're doing pretty good for most races; if you sprint you'll be <1.0s. In OW, you will find that faster tempos are necessary to maintain control in water with waves.

But NEVER EVER feel that you need to swim at that fast a tempo.

I like to think your personal tempo is more organically determined since we are not all Michael Phelps or Dara Torres no matter how much we want to be. Generally, your race tempo is whatever tempo your fitness and skill level can maintain over the length of the race with minimal loss of form.

In the past, I have used a Tempo Matrix to determine this. Map your SPL against tempos, and also record your time at each tempo, for a set length (like 25y or 50m or even longer lengths). (See my blog post Total Immersion: Tempo/SPL Matrix for Goal Setting).

As you graph your times vs. tempos, you will see where your speed will plateau and potentially even slow down tempo increases. This is usually where the SPL also jumps and shows an efficiency threshold to train around. I believe that plateau is also evidence where your race tempo is too.

It looks like you are doing some of that already. Now get it organized, record it occasionally and compare against past results to show improvement. If you are not improving, work on another aspect for a few weeks and then benchmark again.
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  #6  
Old 05-14-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladyfish View Post
Thanks David, that helps a lot. I will start with that and get working with the tempo trainer......what race are you going to do?
Alcatraz crossing in July!
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2012
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Great - thanks David! Exactly the kind of info I can take to the pool tomorrow. Looks like I'm in the ballpark. 5'11 (first thing in the morning ;-) so I guess I'll target 15-17 SPL.

When you say to "Map your SPL against tempos for a set length" it also makes me wonder, at what percentage of effort?. Basically aerobic or anaerobic?

Dang, you're fast! Okay - not comparing to coach-level (but), I think my 50Y ranges between 45-57s. That includes a 3-beep turn. I'll have to try 25Y to remove one variable.

Thanks again!
Tom
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  #8  
Old 05-15-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoy View Post
Great - thanks David! Exactly the kind of info I can take to the pool tomorrow. Looks like I'm in the ballpark. 5'11 (first thing in the morning ;-) so I guess I'll target 15-17 SPL.

When you say to "Map your SPL against tempos for a set length" it also makes me wonder, at what percentage of effort?. Basically aerobic or anaerobic?

Dang, you're fast! Okay - not comparing to coach-level (but), I think my 50Y ranges between 45-57s. That includes a 3-beep turn. I'll have to try 25Y to remove one variable.

Thanks again!
Tom
When doing your benchmarking for the tempo matrix, make sure you are consistent in form and effort as much as you can maintain. Obviously at higher tempos you may see your form fall apart, but try to keep the energy you put into the hip drive/stroke back/etc. as consistent as possible. Also, make sure you are taking breaths at the same rate too: every 2? 3? 4 strokes?

As for aerobic or anaerobic - my hope is that you can get to staying aerobic for 25y even at <1.0s tempos (of course there is a tempo limit where you would go anaerobic). I would think that if you were going anaerobic for such a short distance that your fitness level needs general prep. If you are going anaerobic, or feeling totally out of breath, wiped out, "gassed", by the time you hit the wall at 25y, then I think you should work on relaxation while swimming. or breathing more often (every 2 instead 3 strokes). This will be part of the work you'll be doing and seeing results in the tempo matrix.

And at longer lengths, the probability of feeling wiped out grows. So for 50m lengths, you may find that you may be out of breath for some tempos at the end of 50m whereas on 25y you were OK. Again this where we should work on general conditioning if this is happening to you. Stay relaxed as much as possible. Don't stress, focus on form. Don't hold your breath tightly in your mouth and lungs; hold it gently. Take full breaths, not partial ones. All these will help you keep relaxed on your lengths.

Then you have a starting point at each tempo to see if you can improve your SPL. As you try, take note of the minute details: was it a little bit more focus on: hip drive? silent spear? a more powerful stroke back? a little more energy in the 2BK? etc. etc. If something works, try to imprint that habit into each stroke you take. See if you can maintain it over time.

Then retest again in a few weeks. Or you can organically adjust the chart in parts, like taking one day to only work on a set of tempos. but even testing conditions can confound the map, like changing pools or if you're feeling more tired on one day or the next, or like the fact that sometimes I benchmark the entire map in one day, and of course you are getting tired as you move faster in tempos.

As for my speed, no i am not fast at all compared to most swimmers! but thanks for the comment. My focus has been Shinji like swimming and then working on perfecting form and working on the little details which affect my speed, and now I'm getting into race prep for an Alcatraz crossing in late July so I am working on maintaining form at higher tempos at longer lengths.
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  #9  
Old 05-15-2012
janedoemuc janedoemuc is offline
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janedoemuc
Default Re: Which SPL to use with TT?

If you want to improve your speed, I think you should focus 1. on time per distance and 2. on SPL or 3. play the old good swim-golf - it is an efficiency game.

A low stroke rate (or low number of strokes per length) is IMO a result of good technique plus perfect timing on a certain distance in a certain time.

Any time per distance has its own stroke rate (or number of SPL). Any swimmer has its onw stroke rate (or number of SPL). Any swimmer has its own stroke rate (or number of SPL) on any time per distance. You do the math...

So I would suggest you take your desired time per distance (i.e. your race pace or the speed you want to keep for the whole distance) and find your optimal SPL which you can hold relaxed and with good technique.

To take a certain number of SPL in slow speed up to high speed is the work of months if not years.

I remember having read that Alex Popov swam in competition 32 strokes on 50m. That was sprint pace. I can do that, too. ;o) But in "slow motion" (in comparison to sprint).

I think, that you should never aim for minimal stroke rate (in absolute), but for an individually optimal stroke rate (or number of SPL). Aim for perfect fluency in movement, relaxation, balance ... everything TI stands for. Then your SPL will be right for you and your distance and time.

BTW: You can improve your SPL always with a perfect push-off w/o cheating.

@Coach David Shen: Great post!
Interesting index. I swim 25m with 12-15 strokes on average in an easy pace. [LOL] According to the index I must be 6'3" or taller. I'd love to be! But I am only 5'5"...

Only my 2 cents. Cheers. janedoemuc
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  #10  
Old 05-15-2012
flychick flychick is offline
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flychick
Default SPL in 50m pool?

Hello from the UK!
I am following this thread with interest and am wondering what would be a reasonable equivalent stroke count in a 50m pool? I am 5'6, 120 lbs and 53 years old, and in a 25m pool can hold a stroke count of between 15 - 17 at TT speeds of between 1.3 and 1.23. When I transfer to a 50m pool my stroke count (for 50m) is around 38 - 40 with the equivalent TT speeds. Does this seem about right or am I losing my efficiency somewhere along the line? Any suggestions gratefully received!
Ladyfish, I have just ordered your Open Water Skills book from Amazon UK and am really looking forward to reading it!
Last week I completed my first open water race - 1500m in the sea (10C and yes, I was wearing a wetsuit!!) and was delighted to be the third fastest woman across all age groups. I did 26.56 - onwards and upwards!!
Warm regards,
Nicki
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