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  #1  
Old 12-27-2011
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Default So how fast is fast with TI?

A common theme throughout the posts on this forum is that we all want to swim smoothly, efficiently and relaxed, focusing on balance and streamlining. Fine, I share that. Quite as common is that many, if not most of us, want to swim faster!
OK, so how fast is fast? I am not talking about the highly talented (and ultra-competitive) like Terry, Dave and others but the rest of us more typical people who swim TI because it feels as good for our heads as our bodies. Some of us take in the occasional open water race and have a Pavlovian response to accelerate if someone is coming up on our shoulder in the next pool lane, but we don't line up on starting blocks. Since I started TI 4 years ago I have surprised myself (and amazed others) by being able to swim far better than I could ever have imagined. But there does not seem to be an easy way to compare my time over, say, a mile with others. Add the differing age groups and it is virtually impossible.

For example, I'm 71, height 5 feet 10 inches. I swim a UK mile 5 times a week around 35 to 37 minutes without racing. I feel sure I can improve on that but I don't have any idea what is a realistic target that I should be aiming for. When I swim I concentrate on specific focus points and if someone swims alongside me I try different things to see if they make me more effective but I have been wondering if we should have some sort of informal TI Standard scheme for any others like me who want to know how they are doing? For example, it might be that people in my age group might realistically expect to swim a mile between 33 and 40 minutes. 60 year-olds might be expected to cover the distance 2 minutes quicker, 50 year-olds 2 minutes quicker again, and so on. I am not qualified to set the times and I don't know if this would interest others but I would certainly welcome your views - especially if anyone can tell me what time I should be aiming for this New Year!

Martin T.
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  #2  
Old 12-27-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default How to Set Goals in Swimming - Or Anything

Martin
You pose a valuable question. On the surface, you're asking what's a suitable goal to set for yourself. The mile has a universal appeal and - so long as we agree on a common definition - allows for easy comparison of yourself to others. It's also an event in which you get faster by doing things that out to bring greater health benefits than, say, a goal to swim your fastest 50m or 100m.

Viewed through a larger lens, your question is really about the value and process of goal-setting. Very timely, as I'm beginning work on what I plan to offer as a free ebook. It's title will be the title I gave this post.

So here is my quick advice
1) Choose a standard distance so you can compare your performance and progress to that of others. Check the British Masters web site to see if they maintain national rankings, event by event, or results for a recent National Championship to see what the range of times for 70-74 men is for 1500m (short course and long course will be separate rankings. Out of curiosity see what those in the age groups above and below are doing. The US Masters web site has a great platform for comparison with people your age. Go to this page and enter your age group, event and course and you can see rankings for all swimmers in that age group. I did that for 70-74 men 1500scm for the 2011 season and found that the #1 time was 23:50.8, the 10th time was 27:32.9 and the 16th and final time listed was 38:07.7.

2. Do a baseline swim to see where you are today. Collect at least two data points on that swim. The first, obviously, is time. The second - if you can keep track of both SPL and laps - is stroke count. If that's too difficult, consider wearing a TT, set to a relatively unhurried tempo. Even better would be if you could get someone to time you and record splits at 500 and 1000m.

3. Analyze your baseline swim to identify weaknesses you can improve. Make a plan to improve them. Work your plan.
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  #3  
Old 12-27-2011
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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I too want to swim faster and have set myself goals in 2012 to be at least 10% faster in three core distances of 100m, 400m and the mile.

However, if I accept that swimming is now something I intend to explore and pursue over a lifetime I would also like to know that aged 75 I am a better swimmer than I am today aged 38 but would not expect to measure that against my times, it would be better as Terry suggests to compare myself to the best in my country or the world for my age group, but better still to find an alternative to evaluate my core swimming skills against any period in time or age.

I am just not sure how to do that, perhaps someone else has thought about it?

Thinking briefly about it, since the biggest advantage of age is the ability to utilise a higher heart rate I would at least factor that out of my skill based swimming formula.

e.g. swim skill= distance travelled/(time * average heart rate) expressed as a percentage

how would that be.

e.g. my mile might be 1600/(28min*150bpm) = 38%

you might be 1600/(35min*120bpm) = 38% so exactly the same

Terry 1600/(23min*110bpm) = 63% just for illustration I don't know his numbers.

perhaps it works as a comparitive measure?

The higher your percentage the more skilled swimmer you are
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Old 12-27-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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HR is too variable from person to person to make any meaningful comparison using straight HR number. However I'd hesitate making any suggestions of how HR correlates with ability since...

It's been studied and proven that
a) Triathletes & swimmers, when matched for trianing time, triathlets use more power and swim slower (presumably doing so with higher HRs)
b) Olympic finalists use less power but travel faster than non-finalists (presumably doing so with lower HRs).

It's kind of a red herring.
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  #5  
Old 12-27-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Here's a link to the British Swimming masters rankings page
http://www.swimming.org/britishswimm...ters/rankings/

Last edited by Richardsk : 12-27-2011 at 09:40 PM.
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  #6  
Old 12-28-2011
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
HR is too variable from person to person to make any meaningful comparison using straight HR number. However I'd hesitate making any suggestions of how HR correlates with ability since...

It's been studied and proven that
a) Triathletes & swimmers, when matched for trianing time, triathlets use more power and swim slower (presumably doing so with higher HRs)
b) Olympic finalists use less power but travel faster than non-finalists (presumably doing so with lower HRs).

It's kind of a red herring.
Both your points a and b backup my formula. People who use more heart rate to travel the same distance and speed are less efficient/skilled swimmers so score a lower %.?

You can also look at it as a way of removing the ageing factor so that an individual swimmer can measure their swimming progress over 50 years. The intention of the original post was to compare ones own performance over a number of years and to allow for ageing hence not to take times as the benchmark but something else.
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  #7  
Old 12-28-2011
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Default So how fast is fast?

Terry, thank you so much for your prompt and helpful response. My miles are still Imperial! But when I checked the link for US Masters you kindly provided I was pleased to see that at least my cruising speed time converted to 1500meters would place me about 14th in your country which is very encouraging as I haven't raced in a pool yet. Your suggestion to use a TT (which I have resisted) has been taken on board, I shall order one. I will also get my split times taken. Oh dear, does this mean I feel a race coming on? I will have to learn to dive but I know that if I tried to tumble turn I would probably end up in the next lane as my coordination is dreadful. We all read the same thing on here frequently but, again, only TI would ever have turned this ultra-distance runner into a swimmer and that was only because of your thoughts, your experience and your way of communicating. Thank you.

Richard, thank you for the link to UK Masters times. There are some terribly quick wrinklies around aren't there?

Re. the discussion about pulse rates. One thing not mentioned is that over the age of about 40 we lose about 10% of our oxygen uptake every 10 years. This is not a linear process but usually in steps and plateaus. This is because our pulse rate declines with age. When I was about 25 my max pulse rate was approx 190BPM. Now it is about 165BPM which goes some way to explaining why a good 70 year old should not be able to beat a good 30 year old with a comparable efficient technique.

Also, some of us do not have a particularly outstanding O2 uptake but we can work to a high percentage of what we have. At 45 I could run a 5km race within 5 beats of my max heart rate and a marathon within 15 beats of max. That is where a pulse metre and training experience can be really useful - for each individual! Heart rate is otherwise not a good guide because, as I think Suzanne will confirm, even basal pulse rate can vary enormously amongst endurance athletes as in the general population. A pulse rate elevated above 'normal' is a useful guide to overtraining and also dehydration but the other main use for measuring pulse rate would be to see how quickly it reverts to normal after a measured stress. The quicker it returns, the fitter we are.

Thank you all for your thoughts, keep them coming, I'm not precious and can enjoy a 'vigorous' discussion. . .

Martin T
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  #8  
Old 12-28-2011
tab tab is offline
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A little off topic but I just read some specs on the latest Kona Ironman, the fastest male 8:03:56. While the oldest male age 81 completed the course in 16:45:55 It took him more than twice the time, I think it say a lot for endurance even as we age.
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  #9  
Old 12-28-2011
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Are we using statute or imperial miles? Or the swimmer's definition of 1500M?

The times measured for these masters competitions are open water, right? There's already a clear difference between training in 25Y vs 50M pools because of the number of turns/kick-offs we do is different.

Since we're talking about one mile is there a general fudge-factor we should add in to match open water times? Like, 2000Y in a 25Y pool is the rough equivalent of the same swimming going 1500M in open water? 1800M in a 50M pool? Maybe someone who does can contribute what their equivalent times look like in different settings.

Thanks!
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  #10  
Old 12-28-2011
terry terry is offline
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The ranking times are all pool swims.
Martin - No worries about either diving from the blocks or flip turns. Starting from in the pool will only make a difference of a couple of seconds. And many good distance swimmers in their 70s rely on open turns.
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