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Old 12-30-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Danny
Default understanding the fluctuation in my swim times

For some years now I have had some fairly significant fluctuations in my swimming performance that I have never really been able to sort out. I recently just emerged from a slump of 6 months or so, where I was swimming times that were slower than I had swum (swam?) in a year or more, and I couldn't understand why. Then, as if by magic, I started to regain some of my earlier speed, again for reasons I couldn't really understand. This week I went swimming for 4 days in a row. (My next chance to get in a pool won't be until Wed. of next week and today is Friday before New Year's day.) The first of my 4 days I swam OK, but the 2nd day I started to crash again. My times were really slow, so I resorted to something I had never done before, and it seems to be helping me. I would be interested if anyone else has ever played around with this strategy.

I am a slow swimmer, and my stroke rate is also slow. So I set my TT to 1.4 s/stroke or, more specifically, 0.7 s, 2 beeps per stroke. (The additional beeps are most helpful on pushoff, because they give you more chances to coordinate with the TT when you come off the wall.) 1.4 s is a comfortable distance stroke rate for me, so I started swimming 300 m intervals at this stroke rate. For the rest of my workout, I left it at 1.4 s and never turned it off. What this did for me was to simplify the problem of what was wrong with my stroke and it also simplified the problem of comparing technique experiments to try to fix it. Now, when I tweak something in my stroke, all I have to do is count SPL, and I know exactly whether things are better or not, because the stroke rate is guaranteed constant. Furthermore, 1.4 s is fast enough so there is no hesitation in my stroke, but it is slow enough so that I can think about what I am doing and experiment with my technique, all the while holding the same stroke rate. The results seem promising. After my first day of doing this, I managed to knock off almost 10s on a 300 m interval. Nothing earth-shaking, but I was particularly pleased to see that my last interval was my best one, and there had been a slow improvement over the course of the workout. It is often the case when I am trying to fix my problems that I wind up working too hard to hold my times and I fatigue in the process and start to slow down with each successive interval. Today was the second day that I swam 300 m intervals at 1.4 s without changing the stroke rate. My first time today was slightly better than my last interval yesterday and my times continued to improve. All told, my last interval today was 20 s faster than I was swimming when I started this experiment.

This is too little data to reach any broad based conclusions, but I will be swimming intervals again at 1.4 s when I get back in the pool on next Wed. This does not count some initial drills I do and a few hundred meters of low SPL followed by some sprints at the beginning. But holding the stroke rate constant prevents me from trying to "cheat" by working harder to hold my old times, and it makes the process of figuring out what works and what needs to be changed much simpler.

Has anyone else played around with a strategy like this?

By the way, Happy New Year everyone!
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2016
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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andyinnorway
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I too like to leave the TT on a single setting sometimes during a session and work out some challenges around it.

I tend to still put my TT on triple time though as this allows me the chance to have two stroke rate speeds for one tt setting.

for example If the TT is on 0.40, I can swim at 50 strokes per minute on 1.2 or 75 strokes per minute on 0.8

I also like to test the limit of my stroke rate control by comparing times of a whole length of 2 beat and a whole length of 3 beat on the same TT setting and clicking the TT down until a length of 3 beat is faster than a length of 2 beat.

the lowest number I can be fastest on 2 beat is probably equivalent to my 25/50m sprint setting.

these are great mini projects in the winter months
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Old 12-30-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Andy, over the years I have always been interested in your TT virtuosity and, in fact, it is from you that I learned to work with double-time settings. I suspect that a lot of your abilities in this area may stem from your musical talent and training. It seems to me that I have heard you discuss some rather exotic TT settings and how you can play with them, some of which remind me of the famous Dave Brubeck piece "Take Five". What I don't know, but find interesting to speculate on, is how much your rhythmical talents actually help your swimming. One of the weaknesses that I have is that my sense for an absolute stroke rate is very weak. For example, if I swim at a very slow stroke rate, it distorts my sense of what is a normal rate. This process can wreak havoc on my diagnostic problems, because I like to slow things down when I am trying to figure something out, but then I wind up losing all sense of time. This is why a straight 1.4 seems helpful to me.
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Old 12-31-2016
sclim sclim is offline
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sclim
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@Andy: I am curious at how valid your apparent reason is for having 2 to 3 TT cycles per stroke -- it is, you seem to mean, for mere convenience, so that you don't have to fiddle with the TT. But, seeing as how I don't find resetting the timer very awkward or inconvenient, and in fact, by resetting the TT I am able to dial in a stroke rate that is continuously variable rather than involving submultiples of a previously entered time interval I wonder if there is a hidden benefit that I am missing. Is there another benefit in breaking up the stroke interval into 2 or 3 subunits? Do you get an internal rhythm that is more beneficial than one with a single beat per arm stroke?
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Old 01-01-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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sclim
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OK, I worked out the answer, I think. You had explained it, but I didn't understand until I had gone through it several times in my head. For some reason that likely is not arbitrary (i.e not made up by you) but rather some intrinsic physiological ratio that is true, at least for you, you have found out that at fast tempos near the limit of your stroke control break-down rate, you have discovered that a 2:3 ratio between stroke tempos is the ideal ratio for comparing times at the 2 different stroke tempos. You slowly drop the underlying TT setting, doing paired sets, one at the faster stroke rate and another at the slower stroke rate, until the faster (2 beat per stroke) tempo results in a slower swim time than the slower (3 beat per stroke) tempo does. This, I think you are saying, results in a cleaner demarcation of the stroke break-down tempo rate than merely lowering the stroke tempo rate by a conventional (1 stroke per 1 TT beep) slow progression of TT setting shortening.
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