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Old 02-28-2012
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Default Strokes per Length - and how old did you say?

Hi All, I recently commented on a British open water forum that at 71 many people seem slightly surprised I am still alive let alone swimming every day and trying to improve my grace and speed. But on this site I feel I am in company that is very sympatico so I would like your thoughts.
It occurs to me that in our dedication to low strokes per length we are tarring everyone with the same brush? Naturally, the idea is to part the water and slip through without being noticed. But even if I am not pulling that hard, I am pulling and rolling and surely the 35 year-old guys or girls that I swim with are likely to be stronger than we wrinklies? There will always be those at the higher levels of knowledge and experience like Terry who are still the exceptions but is it realistic to expect a 'senior' TI swimmer to maintain the low stroke rate of an equally able younger person who is not only stronger but who likely has a greater VO2max as well?

Martin T.
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Old 02-28-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Originally Posted by The Parrot View Post
Hi All, I recently commented on a British open water forum that at 71 many people seem slightly surprised I am still alive let alone swimming every day and trying to improve my grace and speed. But on this site I feel I am in company that is very sympatico so I would like your thoughts.
It occurs to me that in our dedication to low strokes per length we are tarring everyone with the same brush? Naturally, the idea is to part the water and slip through without being noticed. But even if I am not pulling that hard, I am pulling and rolling and surely the 35 year-old guys or girls that I swim with are likely to be stronger than we wrinklies? There will always be those at the higher levels of knowledge and experience like Terry who are still the exceptions but is it realistic to expect a 'senior' TI swimmer to maintain the low stroke rate of an equally able younger person who is not only stronger but who likely has a greater VO2max as well?

Martin T.
The only "brush" painted with stroke counts is to help the swimmer make sure they have acheived an efficiency in their stroke before concerning too much with going longer or faster. Terry's table that he's used in various lectures & posted on his website gives a conservative 4 stroke range that in my experience should realistically encompass the abilities of nearly any age short of some physical handicap such as a very arthritic neck or spine or a stroke.

This past week I put a tempo trainer on a 71 year old triathlete I'm working with (her first triathlon is an 800m ocean swim coming up in 4 weeks). Her first lesson with me 2 months agao she was at 30 strokes accross the pool. last thursday she was down to 18 strokes. She is about 5'1". I'm very happy with that level of efficiency for her.

What are your concerns? That TI expects you to have an unrealistic low stroke count?

Congratulations for staying and remaining active. Like the 71 year old I am currently working with (and have worked with several in their 60s and one otehr 70 year old in the past year), I'm inspired by the dedication to remaining fit and active as long as you feel young at heart!
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  #3  
Old 02-28-2012
rbs24h rbs24h is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Parrot View Post
Hi All, I recently commented on a British open water forum that at 71 many people seem slightly surprised I am still alive let alone swimming every day and trying to improve my grace and speed. But on this site I feel I am in company that is very sympatico so I would like your thoughts.
It occurs to me that in our dedication to low strokes per length we are tarring everyone with the same brush? Naturally, the idea is to part the water and slip through without being noticed. But even if I am not pulling that hard, I am pulling and rolling and surely the 35 year-old guys or girls that I swim with are likely to be stronger than we wrinklies? There will always be those at the higher levels of knowledge and experience like Terry who are still the exceptions but is it realistic to expect a 'senior' TI swimmer to maintain the low stroke rate of an equally able younger person who is not only stronger but who likely has a greater VO2max as well?

Martin T.
Good for you to be swimming every day Martin. I think lower SPL only, as a goal, is probably the most common misinterpretation of TI Swimming. My interpretation is that a goal (one of a few) for me, is to find the most efficient number of strokes for a given distance. I am not trying to swim with the lowest SPL for the sake of having lower SPL. I could kick down the pool at 0 SPL.
Experiment and see what's true for you. I found that if I simply increase SR (work harder) it does not necessarily equate to swimming faster. Just as only trying to swim at my lowest SPL or longest Stroke Length, definitely does not equate to swimming faster. Finding the elusive balance between these two, or "efficiency" is what I am after for speed improvement.

There are many posts and blogs on this Forum with Tempo Trainer based workouts to get faster and help find this balance. And it's different for everyone, (so not "Tarring everyone with the same brush"). It's even different for me on different days.

And my VO2 max has not significantly changed since the day I started TI when I would be at VO2 max by swimming 150 yards, because that's as far as I could go. Compared to yesterday,where I swam 1.1 mi at an effort level that never approached MHR or a relevant VO2 Max reading, AND at a reasonable pace for me at that distance (less than 2 min/100). My problem was not lack of fitness. I was already in decent shape.

Keep on swimming. More speed can be found in better streamlining, less drag, better balance etc., not just in 35 year old lungs and bodies.

Will you be faster than them? To me, that's missing the point. Just be better than you were yesterday.

Good Luck.
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Old 02-28-2012
grandall grandall is offline
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Hi Martin,
Congats! on continuing the TI journey

It's really an inspiration to hear from older swimmer's who are still practing TI.
I'm not a coach so I can only offer my opinion based on my own experience.
I don't think the intention of TI or the advice offered on this forum is to convey to it's users that the most important thing to strive for is a lower stroke count or SPL. In Coach Suzanne's comment regarding how one of her older students had reduced her SPL from 30 to 18. This students achievements were not done by physical strength or by an increase in aerobic capcity but where acheived because the coach was able determine the students ineffeciencies in her technique and instruct her how to reduce drag, improve her steamline and most likely her balance. I would bet the student now has a lot more energy reserve left in her tank. That's what cool about TI is less is more! One of my goals (54yoa) is to swim long distances currently my SPL is 14-16 SPL my plan is to maintain my SPL on the entire swim. I'm not looking to lower my SPL but during my practices (without struggle and with mindfulness)I am continuing trying to improve my technique if I'm able to lower my SPL as a result of the improvement then that's a plus!
Swim-well...to be well
George
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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2012
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Default Age and number of strokes!

Thank you for responding Suzanne, I have often wished you were not so far away, we could do with some good TI coaching advice in this part of the UK. No, I am not concerned unduly about low stroke counts per se, there is probably enough evidence around to convince anyone kitted with a brain that except in out-and-out sprinting over very short distances that stroke rate allied to stroke length is the way to go. I am comfortably in Terry's 4 stroke range. I have come late to swimming from a fairly successful ultra-distance running background. My natural interest now is long open-water swims/races. I have entered for a 4.5 mile swim in the summer and some shorter races before that. I swim in a pool 5 times a week with focus points, pace changes (no plodding!), concentration and a few drills, for a mile or more a day. I shall get in the sea when it is practical. Inevitably speed bursts come into the daily routine because some of us are pathologically incapable of not responding even when our brain is telling us not to!

My point (finally!) is that if I were younger and stronger I would be able to increase my stroke length OR decrease my stroke count through sheer strength. I was asking if others in my age group feel this too. It may be academic at the moment because I have not yet maximized my streamlining and balance but it is becoming more relevant and must do so for others, too?

Apologies for the length of this, I get rather enthusiastic . . .

Martin T.
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