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surfmore691
March 15th, 2009, 04:46 PM
Hey, I'm a 16 year old junior in high school, and well, I'd appreciate it if I could get some help with my swimming. I started swimming last year and can do every single stroke legally (minus breaststroke...oddly enough...) but my favorite stroke is freestyle. I have swam a 100 free starting off the wall in 1:00 and I'm also wondering what the most efficient way to swim it is, because when I made that time (my personal best, sadly) I sprinted the whole time. In addition, because this start was off the wall, I did not get to start off the block, I am 5'8" and weigh 122 and I'd just like any tips you can throw my way! Thanks in advance, and I also swim the 500 free on occasion so I would also appreciate any help on this. (Last year I swam the 200 and 500 free, this year I am hoping to swim the 100 free and 500 free)

srcoyote
March 15th, 2009, 07:20 PM
Nothing wrong with sprinting it the entire way. I know I won a lot of 100 free's in h.s. by doing that while making sure I had excellent starts and turns.

tdrop
March 15th, 2009, 10:11 PM
I am careful not to over-swim or over-kick the first 25 or so. Easy speed at the beginning, but it's a fine line in the 100.

that's what works for me. good luck to you; it takes a long time but its lots of fun!

mattson
March 16th, 2009, 10:03 PM
Have your coach time each 25 of your 100. If there is a huge difference in splits, you may want to pace yourself. If you can maintain your speed, then all is okay. (If you make a block start, then expect a quicker first 25.)

ande
March 17th, 2009, 12:03 PM
read Swim Faster Faster

jim thornton
March 18th, 2009, 11:08 PM
I know this runs against the conventional wisdom, but a swimming friend who was a 23 time All American at Oakland U in Michigan (Div 2) gave me the following strategy that works well if you aren't in the absolute best shape:



first two lengths of the 25 yard pool: go as fast as you can while staying smooth--operative term: Easy Speed. Do not thrash. It should be controlled, fast, but not drop dead, all out sprinting of the sort you use for a 50 yard race
third length (and here is where his advice runs counter to the conventional wisdom): concentrate on stretching and keeping your stroke long. It's not exactly a case of easing up, but really concentrate on staying long and smooth. When you pass under the flags, charge towards the wall and do the final turn as fast and tight as possible and blast off the wall
last length--go for broke giving it every single iota of effort you have left. As painful as it feels, it won't last long. Anyone can suffer one lap of excruciating misery! Don't breathe the second half of the final 25. The air you take in at this point is not going to reach your system anyway until the race is long over. Every breath is a tiny bit of time squandered.

If you are in great shape, and you trained your lactate system to cope with whatever it is that makes muscles feel like they are dying, swim as fast as possible on the third length and hope you don't tie up prematurely on the final length.

Good luck!

PS there are many ways to swim a 100. Next year, try to swim in a bunch of meets so you can figure out what strategy works best for you.

Syd
March 19th, 2009, 11:08 AM
I know this runs against the conventional wisdom, but a swimming friend who was a 23 time All American at Oakland U in Michigan (Div 2) gave me the following strategy that works well if you aren't in the absolute best shape:



first two lengths of the 25 yard pool: go as fast as you can while staying smooth--operative term: Easy Speed. Do not thrash. It should be controlled, fast, but not drop dead, all out sprinting of the sort you use for a 50 yard race
third length (and here is where his advice runs counter to the conventional wisdom): concentrate on stretching and keeping your stroke long. It's not exactly a case of easing up, but really concentrate on staying long and smooth. When you pass under the flags, charge towards the wall and do the final turn as fast and tight as possible and blast off the wall
last length--go for broke giving it every single iota of effort you have left. As painful as it feels, it won't last long. Anyone can suffer one lap of excruciating misery! Don't breathe the second half of the final 25. The air you take in at this point is not going to reach your system anyway until the race is long over. Every breath is a tiny bit of time squandered.

If you are in great shape, and you trained your lactate system to cope with whatever it is that makes muscles feel like they are dying, swim as fast as possible on the third length and hope you don't tie up prematurely on the final length.

Good luck!

PS there are many ways to swim a 100. Next year, try to swim in a bunch of meets so you can figure out what strategy works best for you.

Actually turns out to be great advice. Well it worked for me anyway. I was doing a set of 100's (SCM) this afternoon. I was almost near the end when I remembered reading this thread at lunch time. I thought I would try out the strategy on the final two. Went 1:01:26 and 1:00:93, respectively. Both were from a push. I did a slow recovery 100 in between them. What surprised me was not the times but rather my level of tiredness (specifically lack thereof) after completion of the distance. Normally I would be hanging on the side for at least 30 seconds after that level of exertion (or more exactly, the amount of exertion that I would have to expend to do a time like that in practice). But I had a few deep breaths and recovered amazingly quickly. I was only really going hell for leather on the final 25.

I don't know if I would adopt this strategy in a race, though. I really only know one strategy: (for LCM) go out as fast as I can on the first 50 and hold on for dear life on the second. I always seem to do my fastest times when I go out as fast as possible. I die in the final 15m and I feel like I am going to have a heart attack when I finish but my times are always better than if I tried to pace myself.

I think I will be experimenting with this strategy (certainly in practice) in the future.

Typhoons Coach
March 20th, 2009, 10:07 AM
I know this runs against the conventional wisdom, but a swimming friend who was a 23 time All American at Oakland U in Michigan (Div 2) gave me the following strategy that works well if you aren't in the absolute best shape:



first two lengths of the 25 yard pool: go as fast as you can while staying smooth--operative term: Easy Speed. Do not thrash. It should be controlled, fast, but not drop dead, all out sprinting of the sort you use for a 50 yard race
third length (and here is where his advice runs counter to the conventional wisdom): concentrate on stretching and keeping your stroke long. It's not exactly a case of easing up, but really concentrate on staying long and smooth. When you pass under the flags, charge towards the wall and do the final turn as fast and tight as possible and blast off the wall
last length--go for broke giving it every single iota of effort you have left. As painful as it feels, it won't last long. Anyone can suffer one lap of excruciating misery! Don't breathe the second half of the final 25. The air you take in at this point is not going to reach your system anyway until the race is long over. Every breath is a tiny bit of time squandered.
If you are in great shape, and you trained your lactate system to cope with whatever it is that makes muscles feel like they are dying, swim as fast as possible on the third length and hope you don't tie up prematurely on the final length.

Good luck!

PS there are many ways to swim a 100. Next year, try to swim in a bunch of meets so you can figure out what strategy works best for you.

I wish my age-groupers would read this forum! This is almost exactly what I say to them!

Great post, Jim!

quicksilver
March 20th, 2009, 11:08 AM
Thanks Jim.

That post was probably the most insightful thing written here in a long time.
Excellent strategy.

pwolf66
March 20th, 2009, 11:40 AM
Jim,

I'm swimming leadoff in a 4x100 SCM Free relay tomorrow and I will try to execute this plan. Note: try. I sometimes have a tendency to throw the game plan out the window as soon as I hit the water.

jim thornton
March 20th, 2009, 12:00 PM
Paul et al:

First, I should give credit where credit is due. The friend who told me this strategy back around 1990 is Mark Vagle. The last time I saw Mark was in Dallas, and we have since lost touch. I don't know if he is still swimming, but he was great when I knew him. If anybody out there knows Mark, please ask him to contact me.

Second, re: throwing the game plan out the window when you hit the water. Most of us are so hopped up on adrenaline at the beginning of a race that this is natural. You are going to go fast regardless of what you tell yourself. Mark's suggestion was not to override this impulse, but rather try to moderate it.

Paul, when you hit the water, just tell yourself to stay smooth. "Easy speed" is an elusive concept, but to me, the only difference between this an an all out sprint is a slight degree of mental relaxation that allows you to stay a wee bit longer and looser than you otherwise would. It doesn't seem like much, but especially when you concentrate on thinking "long and smooth" on that third length, it postpones the wall of lactate threshold just long enough to let you finish without turning to tungsten and sinking, metaphorically or actually, 5 yards from the finish.

NewportGeek
March 20th, 2009, 05:58 PM
surfmore,

sprint 100% the whole way. Just breath alot. You are right at the age where your body is going to begin developing power and endurance. I know it might sound stupid, but remember 'You have to swim fast to swim fast'.

Pacing yourself is just that, pacing... slowing yourself down for fear of lactic acid buildup....

As your time drops from 1:00, to the low 50s.. into the the mid 40's... 'pacing' is a horrible idea because the race is taking less and less time... and becoming more and more of a true sprint. the 'strategy' becomes simple GET IN FRONT AND STAY IN FRONT.

just remember to breath alot, especially in the first 50.

Speedo
March 20th, 2009, 09:37 PM
surfmore,

sprint 100% the whole way. Just breath alot. You are right at the age where your body is going to begin developing power and endurance. I know it might sound stupid, but remember 'You have to swim fast to swim fast'.

Pacing yourself is just that, pacing... slowing yourself down for fear of lactic acid buildup....

As your time drops from 1:00, to the low 50s.. into the the mid 40's... 'pacing' is a horrible idea because the race is taking less and less time... and becoming more and more of a true sprint. the 'strategy' becomes simple GET IN FRONT AND STAY IN FRONT.

just remember to breath alot, especially in the first 50.
This may pump you up to think this way. In fact, I've thought this way myself and tried it, but it doesn't work regardless of your conditioning. But don't take it from me. Look at Cielo's U.S. Open record for the 100 Free where he split 19.60 / 21.32. His 50 Free U.S. Open record is 18.47, which is over a full second faster than his 1st 50 split for the 100. He certainly wasn't going 100% the whole time, or even for the first 50. I'd listen to what Jim is describing- this strategy may work better. It's a little different than what I usually do and may try it tomorrow.

jim thornton
March 20th, 2009, 10:12 PM
Pete, let us know how it goes.

NewportGeek, I actually semi-agree with you--if you are in really, really good shape and have done a lot of lactate training.

But even here, you still have to take a little off the front end if you want to finish strong. It's a question of how much to take off--and the better sprint-trained you are, the less you have to surrender.

But you still have to surrender something. It would be intereeting to see Cielo or his ilk swim an all out 50 and keep going. Everybody ties up eventually. I am convinced he could not have kept going after his 18.47 without slowing down considerably on the third lap, and even more on the fourth. It's akin to a maximum bench press. Once you do the most you can do, you can't do another rep without recovery.

There are three (at least) different energy systems that fuel muscle contractions. The absolute all out drop dead one doesn't last long--maybe 8 seconds. In track, that's what 100 meter sprinters rely on.

In swimming, even the shortest race--the 50 free--lasts much longer than this system can keep the body going.

We kick into the second one, which burns carbs and lasts a bit longer. The third one (aerobic) burns fat and is what we rely on for really long swims.

Anyhow, it's not a matter of character but a matter of physiology and fuel.

That French guy who Lezak caught and beat in the relay was the poster boy for the approach you are advocating: no holds barred, crash and burn.

Couroboros
March 21st, 2009, 12:09 AM
I tried this today in my 100 free. Time comparison: today's 1:11 to Jan 31's 1:19. Of course I'm completely new to swimming so a lot of that is just my body getting into shape and in the mode of competitive swimming.

Of course, now I wonder how I would've done if I went all out on the first 50 like I did with my 1:19 a month and a half ago... I should try a 100 free off the block next practice and do it that way...

ViveBene
March 21st, 2009, 06:34 AM
I tried this today in my 100 free. Time comparison: today's 1:11 to Jan 31's 1:19. Of course I'm completely new to swimming so a lot of that is just my body getting into shape and in the mode of competitive swimming.

Of course, now I wonder how I would've done if I went all out on the first 50 like I did with my 1:19 a month and a half ago... I should try a 100 free off the block next practice and do it that way...

That's very interesting, Couroboros. Ande is always encouraging swimmers to do comparison tests.

Energy systems

To expand a bit on Jim's immediately preceding post on "at least three energy systems," the following from Wikipedia seems helpful. Link to whole article is at bottom:

There are three sources of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's main energy source on the cellular level.
ATP-PC System (Phosphogen System) - This system is used only for very short durations of up to 10 seconds. The ATP-PC system neither uses oxygen nor produces lactic acid and is thus said to be alactic anaerobic. This is the primary system behind very short, powerful movements like a golf swing or a 100 m sprint.
Anaerobic System (Lactic Acid System) - Predominates in supplying energy for exercises lasting less than 2 minutes. Also known as the Glycolytic System. An example of an activity of the intensity and duration that this system works under would be a 400 m sprint.
Aerobic System - This is the long duration energy system. By 5 minutes of exercise the O2 system is clearly the dominant system. In a 1 km run, this system is already providing approximately half the energy; in a marathon run it provides 98% or more.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_systems

jim thornton
March 21st, 2009, 10:53 AM
Thanks, ViveBene. I was totally winging it from half-remembered lore in an increasingly Swiss-cheese-like brain. Glad to see my oversimplification was not totally outside the ballpark of reality. I think the bottom line point here is that Newport Geek's suggestion to drop-dead sprint the whole thing, otherwise you are a coward and a slacker, ignores the reality that we only have 8-10 seconds worth of phosphogene in us, and the lactic acid system, by its very nature, creates byproducts that eventually interfere with optimal muscle contractions.

I continue to maintain that it's a fine line that separates wimpery from stupidity. You want to swim the 100 in a way that minimizes the former but without dumbly launching yourself on a certain rendezvous with ruin!

ViveBene
March 22nd, 2009, 09:04 AM
Thanks, Jim!

This info probably should have gone on the "Race Pace Interval Training" thread, but I decided to put it here.

I've noticed a lot of empirical work - self-testing, and so forth - being presented and the results discussed (especially racing results) on these forums. I am coming around to thinking that a bit of knowledge of exercise physiology - why bodies react the way they do, or perform the way they do - wouldn't hurt, and could help to focus training efforts.

The Wikipedia article notes that all three energy systems work together, but one or another type will tend to predominate at different levels (speed and intensity) of work. Maybe training is about being able to recruit a system faster, and sustain it longer, than the next guy or gal.

Your thoughts?

jim thornton
March 22nd, 2009, 12:05 PM
If you want to read a sensational book on all aspects of this, I highly recommend Fitness and Health by Brian Sharkey (Human Kinetics.) It's come out in multiple editions, each time reflecting the latest thinking from the exercise physiology community. He does a sensational job of explaining all this highly complicated stuff in language that's easy to understand.

I think each of us probably has a genetic range that limits how good we can get in every different physiological system, and this is probably true in energy metabolism as well. That said, training can optimize our performance by bringing us up to the top of our potential.

I agree that the ATP, anaerobic, and aerobic systems do not function discretely or in a step-by-step linear sequence but rather interweave, depending on the physical challenge, with one or another coming to the forefront. For instance, during a marathon, it's clear that most of the energy burned is from the aerobic system. But a sprint to the finish line almost certainly would tap the anaerobic system (assuming there's any carb fuel left at this point) and possible the ATP system as well.

All of this is really complicated when it comes to actual race performance by a myriad of other physiological complexities that are difficult to quantify. For instance, long distance runners often used to avoid strength training under the assumption that this might cause them to bulk up with hypertrophied (or enlarged) fast twitch muscle fibers they don't particularly use in their races. However, this idea, which seems intuitively sound, doesn't appear to hold up in reality.

If you want, send me your email and I will send you an article I did on how strength training can help endurance performance.

Anyhow, the bottom line here is that if you want to swim your best, train predominantly for the events you hope to excel at--but don't ignore the other swims, too. Distance swimmers can benefit from sprint training and vice versa. I have also read that all of us, even if we only race freestyle, can benefit from IM training (to balance out muscles, etc.), provided this doesn't cause injuries.

Jazz Hands
March 22nd, 2009, 12:41 PM
Maglischo covers energy systems very well. It's a lot more complicated than just three tubes spewing this "energy" stuff into the muscles. There are motor units with different fiber types, and different fiber types use different sources of energy. Right now I'm looking at a table titled "Properties of FT and ST Muscle Fibers" in Swimming Even Faster. The table lists comparative values for things like glycogen content, power, and capacity for aerobic/anaerobic metabolism across FTa, FTb, and ST. This is the 1993 version of the book, so I'm sure there's newer research on the topic.

jim thornton
March 22nd, 2009, 12:54 PM
You are definitely correct about the complexities involved. And this is only one reason why it is so hard to break down training into a do this, not that prescription for sprinters vs. distance swimmers. It's almost like a body ecology wherein alterations to X precipitate alterations to Y which, in turn, effect other feedback loops and cascading reactions, etc.

Add in that a lot of this stuff is, at best, only crudely understood. Case in point: in the first version of his classic swimming science text, Maglischo seemed pretty convinced that a lot of the power in the freestyle pull comes from subtle sculling hand movements that (if memory serves me, and it may not) harness the Bernouli effect.

In his later edition, and armed with new research from simulations in the water equivalent of wind tunnels, he realized this was not the case at all, and came to reject his own earlier theory.

I think the bottom line for us today is to train most in the areas where we want to excel, but to not dismiss or give overly short shrift to the areas we are less constitutionally suited to. I continue to maintain that distance swimmers should do some sprinting work and vice versa, as much as both groups appear to hate the forms of swimming they don't consider themselves "good" at.

ViveBene
March 22nd, 2009, 01:10 PM
Thanks, Jim and Jazz Hands.
I have the revised edition, Swimming Fastest (2003), and will read more about physiology.

Mp

bergsteiger
March 22nd, 2009, 02:30 PM
This is a great thread and I have really enjoyed reading it.

I have been training for a triathlon this spring because I have always wanted to do one. However I have a bad knee and after the tri I don't think I will be running for exercise anymore. So most of my swimming training has been for distance but when I look at my times it is clear I was never really made to swim long distances.

All this is leading up to my goal for next year which is to train for the 100 free and try to break that personal barrier I never could in high school (under 50 seconds). So anything along the lines of the Vive's comment below that gets posted or sent to me via personal message will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for a great discussion here.


I've noticed a lot of empirical work - self-testing, and so forth - being presented and the results discussed (especially racing results) on these forums. I am coming around to thinking that a bit of knowledge of exercise physiology - why bodies react the way they do, or perform the way they do - wouldn't hurt, and could help to focus training efforts.

pwolf66
March 22nd, 2009, 10:39 PM
Jim,

I'm swimming leadoff in a 4x100 SCM Free relay tomorrow and I will try to execute this plan. Note: try. I sometimes have a tendency to throw the game plan out the window as soon as I hit the water.

So I tried this game plan out and it seemed like a much easier swim that previous strategy. Granted the whole meet I was swimming much slower and was having trouble keeping my speed up but this swim was a little over a second slower than my best which is about right all things considered but the splitting was my best ever.

Albatross 3/21/09
29.25/31.07 1:00.32

A less than 2 second differential for me is terrific. Granted the front 50 was out slow compared to my best back in June, but the back half was much better in comparison.

IGLA 6/19/08
27.73/31.44 59.17

I'm going to work on my kicking a lot more and try to swim the 100 free at Zones the same way and see what happens.

CoachML
March 22nd, 2009, 10:49 PM
Hey, I'm a 16 year old junior in high school, and well, I'd appreciate it if I could get some help with my swimming. I started swimming last year and can do every single stroke legally (minus breaststroke...oddly enough...) but my favorite stroke is freestyle. I have swam a 100 free starting off the wall in 1:00 and I'm also wondering what the most efficient way to swim it is, because when I made that time (my personal best, sadly) I sprinted the whole time. In addition, because this start was off the wall, I did not get to start off the block, I am 5'8" and weigh 122 and I'd just like any tips you can throw my way! Thanks in advance, and I also swim the 500 free on occasion so I would also appreciate any help on this. (Last year I swam the 200 and 500 free, this year I am hoping to swim the 100 free and 500 free)High schoolers should sprint the first lap, with steady breathing. After that, gauge the rest of the swimmers in the pool for the second lap. Third lap same as first, fourth lap you should try not to breath. Just keep your head down and use up every bit of your energy.

200 has always been the same. First 125 gauge speed based on other swimmers, next 25 try to take lead, last 50 sprint with steady breathing, maybe for the end keep your head down.

Same deal for the 500, but try to start the process at the 375, so there are five laps to take the lead and sprint.

The Fortress
March 22nd, 2009, 10:49 PM
So I tried this game plan out and it seemed like a much easier swim that previous strategy. Granted the whole meet I was swimming much slower and was having trouble keeping my speed up but this swim was a little over a second slower than my best which is about right all things considered but the splitting was my best ever.

Albatross 3/21/09
29.25/31.07 1:00.32

A less than 2 second differential for me is terrific. Granted the front 50 was out slow compared to my best back in June, but the back half was much better in comparison.

IGLA 6/19/08
27.73/31.44 59.17

I'm going to work on my kicking a lot more and try to swim the 100 free at Zones the same way and see what happens.

I tried Jim's strategy in my 100 back at Albatross and likewise liked it. I went out .5 slower than the last time I swam it. But I still improved by .8. Seemed less painful as well. Still, my front 50 was probably too slow. My splits were only a second apart, which, with my backstroke start, is effectively like even splitting a race.

Nice splitting, Hulk. Seems like you're on course in the 100 free for Zones.

FlyQueen
March 22nd, 2009, 11:37 PM
I go for the all out approach in the 100. If I think about backing off or easy speed for the first 50 at all I swim a heck of a lot slower AND it still hurts like crazy. I swim the first 50 much like I'd race a 50 except breathing every 3 rather than 2 breaths for the race. It hurts by the 75 for sure.

NotVeryFast
March 29th, 2009, 11:33 AM
I find that my fastest 100m times are always done when I do my fastest times for the first 50m. To break 60 seconds for SCM 100 free, I HAVE to do the first 50m sub 29. There have been races where I've gone out in more like 29.8, and I've never come back any faster in the 2nd 50m compared to going out in 28.8.

If I feel like I'm in lactic acid hell for the last 10-15m of the race, I know I've swum fast enough. If I feel strong all the way to end, it means I've gone out too slowly and the time will be poor.

KEWebb18
March 29th, 2009, 12:06 PM
I try to save my legs for the last 50 of the 100 free....yet I can't drop time. Any thoughts?

Allen Stark
March 29th, 2009, 01:35 PM
Jim's strategy seems great.The"sprint the whole way"idea works only if your concept of sprint does not mean all out.It is not physiologically possible to go all out for a 100(unless you can do it under 28 sec.)Keeping good form the last 25 is what separates the fastest from the also rans."Easy speed" is the key.It is a near sprint,not an all out sprint.

bergsteiger
March 30th, 2009, 04:51 PM
first two lengths of the 25 yard pool: go as fast as you can while staying smooth--operative term: Easy Speed. Do not thrash. It should be controlled, fast, but not drop dead, all out sprinting of the sort you use for a 50 yard race
third length (and here is where his advice runs counter to the conventional wisdom): concentrate on stretching and keeping your stroke long. It's not exactly a case of easing up, but really concentrate on staying long and smooth. When you pass under the flags, charge towards the wall and do the final turn as fast and tight as possible and blast off the wall
last length--go for broke giving it every single iota of effort you have left. As painful as it feels, it won't last long. Anyone can suffer one lap of excruciating misery! Don't breathe the second half of the final 25. The air you take in at this point is not going to reach your system anyway until the race is long over. Every breath is a tiny bit of time squandered.

I pretty much followed this strategy to the letter this past weekend in the 100 free and felt that it was the fastest I could have swam at my current moderate level of conditioning. Even touched out the guy swimming next to me so thanks for taking the time to pass on some good advice, Jim.

knelson
March 30th, 2009, 06:12 PM
I think this is probably obvious, but always keep in mind when you look at someone's splits for a freestyle or backstroke race those times are to their feet and would be at least a few tenths faster if they finished to their hand. So, say you swim a 50 free in 25.0 and split your 100 free in 25.5. In reality that probably means you swam the first 50 of your 100 almost exactly as fast as you did the 50 event.

hofffam
March 31st, 2009, 02:17 PM
I swam a best time this weekend in the 100 with the following splits:

50: 26.39
100: 54.48 (28.09)

My previous best time was 55.25 (26.30/28.95).

I have in the past gone out too fast and died miserably on the last 25. I have been trying essentially to swim a 25/75 - 25 "easy speed" and accelerate to the finish.

I was very pleased with the swim. For reference my best 50 is 24.21. I now think a 53+ is possible and I need to go out a bit faster since I can finish better than before.