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Herb
March 8th, 2010, 10:32 PM
Absent technique improvement, I am wondering if each swimmer has a ceiling that can never really be broken once a minimal amount of training has occurred. This is my theory based on my own swimming experience over the last year.

No matter how fast I flail my arms the result in the 50 free always seems to be the same - 28.5, 29.2, 28.7. Seems like a random result +- 0.5 seconds. :frustrated:

Can someone with those kinds of results ever eventually go 26 something just by training harder, doing more and more sprints, etc.. I would hope to hear that is a possibility even though I know I have some fundamental flaws.

Allen Stark
March 9th, 2010, 01:19 AM
Probably not,but what do you have against technique improvement?The 50 is not an endurance event so aerobic conditioning is not going to make much difference except to help you hold form longer as you do sets.Lifting weights and exercises to improve explosive power will give some improvement,but the big time drops will come from working on streamlining,EVF,etc.Technique improvement is the easiest way to get faster.

pwolf66
March 9th, 2010, 03:00 PM
Herb,

How much work do you do on your starts? Any reaction time drills? How about any work in the gym to strengthen your legs? How much work do you do on your turns? Finishes?

While the 50 Free (assuming yards) does actually have about 35 yards of actual swimming in it, it is an event that is dominated by the start, turn and finish.

Michael Heather
March 9th, 2010, 03:23 PM
If you really don't want to do any actual work and are in OK condition, lots of rest (about a week) off of your feet will help. Once. But real repeatable speed comes with strength and technique work. No shortcuts to the desired goal.

__steve__
March 9th, 2010, 03:41 PM
In the same boat Herb, what recently helped me was practice sprinting, hypoxics, and lifting more. My fastest 50 was an enduring 27.74 done last month. So I started practicing 50's doing the first 25 without breath and now I can do close to the same time from a push several times subsequently with 2 minutes rest. I just changed my approach.

rtodd
March 9th, 2010, 07:01 PM
Can someone with those kinds of results ever eventually go 26 something just by training harder, doing more and more sprints, etc.. I would hope to hear that is a possibility even though I know I have some fundamental flaws.

Yes. You want to go from 28.5 to 26? I don't see why not. Read Ande's speed tips and do lots of 12.5's and 25's all out in practice. Practice starts and turns like Paul suggests. Do alot of no breathing. Pay attention to times and stroke count. Do alot of sprint kick sets. The 50 and 100 free are dominated by the strong 6 beat kick. Practice SDK for a strong underwater at the start and turn. You want to get out a body length past the flags on the start and turn.

BillS
March 9th, 2010, 08:24 PM
Absent technique improvement, I am wondering if each swimmer has a ceiling that can never really be broken once a minimal amount of training has occurred. This is my theory based on my own swimming experience over the last year.

No matter how fast I flail my arms the result in the 50 free always seems to be the same - 28.5, 29.2, 28.7. Seems like a random result +- 0.5 seconds. :frustrated:

Can someone with those kinds of results ever eventually go 26 something just by training harder, doing more and more sprints, etc.. I would hope to hear that is a possibility even though I know I have some fundamental flaws.

I'm missing something here. How can you avoid stumbling into technique improvement if you continue training? Yes, you can and will get stronger, but I think it is impossible to avoid getting better at the same time.

I believe that humans are fundamentally very lazy (at least I am), and our bodies will adapt without conscious input to make our repetitive tasks easier. So your streamline will get tighter, your flips quicker, your pushes stronger, and your stroke more efficient simply because your body is tired of being asked to do 28 second 50 yard flails inefficiently. Your fundamental flaws will either disappear or will be adapted in some fashion into your stroke in a way that makes it easier for you to swim a 28. And yes, if you keep at it, one day you will swim a 26 because the unconscious changes will have made you a better swimmer. I believe you can accelerate the process by consciously working on technique, but improvement is inevitable.

It is a diminishing logarithmic scale -- there is less return as you get faster, but at 28 seconds per 50, there should be a whole lot of improvement available for no conscious investment in technique changes.

Having said that, there is a guy on my team who swam slower in one of our big meets 2 years after he first did it. Same meet, same pool, and he trained pretty consistently throughout that 2 year period. It's not aging; he's in very good shape. He was just slower. So I may be totally out to lunch here. It wouldn't be the first time.

Herb
March 9th, 2010, 09:13 PM
Probably not,but what do you have against technique improvement?The 50 is not an endurance event so aerobic conditioning is not going to make much difference except to help you hold form longer as you do sets.Lifting weights and exercises to improve explosive power will give some improvement,but the big time drops will come from working on streamlining,EVF,etc.Technique improvement is the easiest way to get faster.

I have absolutely nothing against technique improvement. I think it is the root cause of my problems and frustration.

Unfortunately I think my swim stroke might be similar to my golf stroke. I was a decent golfer, for a weekend hack. I could consistently shoot mid 80s and occassionally break 80. Occassionally I would hear comments about how funky my stroke was. One day I was playing with a pro and he told me "honestly your stroke is so screwed up that I could help you but you would go through a whole year of misery to even get back to where you are at now so I don't think you even want to hear it".

I don't know how much swimming is like golf in that regard, but I imagine I have swam x million yards with a flawed stroke. I have finally got some coaching and I'm working on it but it is tough for me to translate. With workout sets, at least I know what I have to do.

Herb
March 9th, 2010, 09:16 PM
Herb,

How much work do you do on your starts? Any reaction time drills? How about any work in the gym to strengthen your legs? How much work do you do on your turns? Finishes?

While the 50 Free (assuming yards) does actually have about 35 yards of actual swimming in it, it is an event that is dominated by the start, turn and finish.

My starts are absolutely horrid. But in reality the 50 free is not what I care about. I just want to break 1:00 in the 100 and realize it is an impossibility if I can't swim a 50 under 27.

Herb
March 9th, 2010, 10:08 PM
I'm missing something here. How can you avoid stumbling into technique improvement if you continue training? Yes, you can and will get stronger, but I think it is impossible to avoid getting better at the same time.

I believe that humans are fundamentally very lazy (at least I am), and our bodies will adapt without conscious input to make our repetitive tasks easier. So your streamline will get tighter, your flips quicker, your pushes stronger, and your stroke more efficient simply because your body is tired of being asked to do 28 second 50 yard flails inefficiently. Your fundamental flaws will either disappear or will be adapted in some fashion into your stroke in a way that makes it easier for you to swim a 28. And yes, if you keep at it, one day you will swim a 26 because the unconscious changes will have made you a better swimmer. I believe you can accelerate the process by consciously working on technique, but improvement is inevitable.

It is a diminishing logarithmic scale -- there is less return as you get faster, but at 28 seconds per 50, there should be a whole lot of improvement available for no conscious investment in technique changes.

Having said that, there is a guy on my team who swam slower in one of our big meets 2 years after he first did it. Same meet, same pool, and he trained pretty consistently throughout that 2 year period. It's not aging; he's in very good shape. He was just slower. So I may be totally out to lunch here. It wouldn't be the first time.

This is very interesting. And just what I wanted to hear - until the last paragraph.

swimshark
March 10th, 2010, 08:42 AM
My starts are absolutely horrid. But in reality the 50 free is not what I care about. I just want to break 1:00 in the 100 and realize it is an impossibility if I can't swim a 50 under 27.

I would start working on your starts and turns. Get that tight streamline and push off the wall down. Then work on fewer breaths. This is what I'm working on with my coach. As a distance swimmer, my 50 free has gone down in time with these few changes.

chowmi
March 10th, 2010, 10:37 PM
Herb,

I am a huge fan of Rich Abrahams' training and overall philosophy. Search through his threads and replies!!! Also go back and search on Gary Hall, Sr. And of course, ANDE!!

Here are some things you can try:

1. Remember EVERY race starts with a dive. Or a backstroke start. Not just the 50 free. You knock 1/5 second off your start and breakout, that is 1/2 second of any event. Welcome to 59.50!!!

2. You have one fast turn in a 50. But you have THREE in a 100. Even more reason to work on your turns!!!

How to do it? Try these!

Do 6 x, 8x, or even 10x if you can handle the body jarring - dive/breakout/FOUR fast strokes. Emphasis is on gettting the right angle of entry, streamline position, and up and into your race pace immediately, then shut it off. I find that doing 25's or even 12 1/2's sometimes inhibits me from getting that real blast-off feeling. It may not be practical to always do dives, but if you only do fast stuff from the wall.....you aren't starting from the wall in a race! NOT the same angle!!

It sounds like your problem isn't so much getting the arms going, but if you have bad starts and splatting-turns, you are essentially doing 3 races from a dead start each time (at the official start, again when you break out, and once more after your turn). If you are "flailing" as you say, it may be because you haven't "set up" your initial momentum, so you have no choice but to start flailing to get your speed.

Turn work: break it down completely. Start at the wall, get under the water in the EXACT streamline position (feet on the wall) you would PUSH OFF the wall on a flip turn. Take a big breath, now! Get under the water, and start from a DEAD start, and PUSH off, kick, break out, and take FOUR strokes. Same theory. You will feel EVERY inefficiency from a dead start.
3. Reverse it, and practice going into the wall. Do it with stopping with your feet at the wall, or do the turn pushing off on your back. I like to focus on staying in alignment and not getting lazing and slapping my legs every which way and what the heck are my arms doing?

Start with both hands on the wall. Kick freestlye, really hard, no breathing! Then have someone randomly yell, GO! and then you do an open turn as fast as you possibly can, kick off the wall, and take 4 fast strokes. It works best kicking freestyle, turning and going fly or breast.

Dive, dive, dive. Again, it's part of every race! I usually take a day and do all those special things by myself. If you do 1 dive a day, that's hundreds a year. It will make a huge difference.

Underwaters. I am a huge fan of these. I usually do 25's underwater right after my basic warmup (400 or 500). Usually 4 x 25 on 45 or 1 minute (SCM). I use that time to do a "body scan", and think about my joints loosening up, and to relax from my hectic schedule, and open up my lungs.

Mental toughness! Do you know your breathing pattern for your 50 and 100's? You should. Do you execute them, without fail? In a race, do you know exactly where you are? These are things you can train your mind. It requires no physical effort! I like that!

Think of it this way: You have to find the right 10 hits to put on your greatest hits album. You have to pick and chose the best (or lowest hanging fruit) 10 things to do that will maximize your performance in your chosen events, and you cannot have a profound weakness in any one area. Doing things you are already good at isn't going to make you better - but doing the things you really hate and are not good at will improve your performance! (And while I am on my soapbox - if you are doing "drills" on the same interval as you swim, then you either aren't doing them right or you are doing drills you are already good at, so pick something else! And don't swim on my feet! Grr!)

Think about it this way: start & breakout & 4 strokes? 15 meters. In & out of 3 turns? 3 x 10 meters = 30 meters. The finish? 5 meters. That's 50 meters, or HALF of your race!!! I would classify these as more in the "mental" category - simply because it is a LAPSE of attention here that will impact your peformance. The middle swimming bits - you almost never hear people say - "I forgot to swim fast in the middle!" or "I really blew the middle swimming bits but I did hit my start, turns, and wow, did you see that finish?"

They are all constantly a work in progress. And we all have our set backs/limitations - either from just opportunity to injury, sore backs, etc etc...but think incrementally - just one a day on average...one extra turn to practice, one extra dive.....if not good for 1/2 second, at least 1 tenth??

Glider
March 11th, 2010, 10:31 AM
Excellent post, Monrevillite.


Herb,

I am a huge fan of Rich Abrahams' training and overall philosophy. Search through his threads and replies!!! Also go back and search on Gary Hall, Sr. And of course, ANDE!!

Here are some things you can try:

1. Remember EVERY race starts with a dive. Or a backstroke start. Not just the 50 free. You knock 1/5 second off your start and breakout, that is 1/2 second of any event. Welcome to 59.50!!!

2. You have one fast turn in a 50. But you have THREE in a 100. Even more reason to work on your turns!!!

How to do it? Try these!

Do 6 x, 8x, or even 10x if you can handle the body jarring - dive/breakout/FOUR fast strokes. Emphasis is on gettting the right angle of entry, streamline position, and up and into your race pace immediately, then shut it off. I find that doing 25's or even 12 1/2's sometimes inhibits me from getting that real blast-off feeling. It may not be practical to always do dives, but if you only do fast stuff from the wall.....you aren't starting from the wall in a race! NOT the same angle!!

It sounds like your problem isn't so much getting the arms going, but if you have bad starts and splatting-turns, you are essentially doing 3 races from a dead start each time (at the official start, again when you break out, and once more after your turn). If you are "flailing" as you say, it may be because you haven't "set up" your initial momentum, so you have no choice but to start flailing to get your speed.

Turn work: break it down completely. Start at the wall, get under the water in the EXACT streamline position (feet on the wall) you would PUSH OFF the wall on a flip turn. Take a big breath, now! Get under the water, and start from a DEAD start, and PUSH off, kick, break out, and take FOUR strokes. Same theory. You will feel EVERY inefficiency from a dead start.
3. Reverse it, and practice going into the wall. Do it with stopping with your feet at the wall, or do the turn pushing off on your back. I like to focus on staying in alignment and not getting lazing and slapping my legs every which way and what the heck are my arms doing?

Start with both hands on the wall. Kick freestlye, really hard, no breathing! Then have someone randomly yell, GO! and then you do an open turn as fast as you possibly can, kick off the wall, and take 4 fast strokes. It works best kicking freestyle, turning and going fly or breast.

Dive, dive, dive. Again, it's part of every race! I usually take a day and do all those special things by myself. If you do 1 dive a day, that's hundreds a year. It will make a huge difference.

Underwaters. I am a huge fan of these. I usually do 25's underwater right after my basic warmup (400 or 500). Usually 4 x 25 on 45 or 1 minute (SCM). I use that time to do a "body scan", and think about my joints loosening up, and to relax from my hectic schedule, and open up my lungs.

Mental toughness! Do you know your breathing pattern for your 50 and 100's? You should. Do you execute them, without fail? In a race, do you know exactly where you are? These are things you can train your mind. It requires no physical effort! I like that!

Think of it this way: You have to find the right 10 hits to put on your greatest hits album. You have to pick and chose the best (or lowest hanging fruit) 10 things to do that will maximize your performance in your chosen events, and you cannot have a profound weakness in any one area. Doing things you are already good at isn't going to make you better - but doing the things you really hate and are not good at will improve your performance! (And while I am on my soapbox - if you are doing "drills" on the same interval as you swim, then you either aren't doing them right or you are doing drills you are already good at, so pick something else! And don't swim on my feet! Grr!)

Think about it this way: start & breakout & 4 strokes? 15 meters. In & out of 3 turns? 3 x 10 meters = 30 meters. The finish? 5 meters. That's 50 meters, or HALF of your race!!! I would classify these as more in the "mental" category - simply because it is a LAPSE of attention here that will impact your peformance. The middle swimming bits - you almost never hear people say - "I forgot to swim fast in the middle!" or "I really blew the middle swimming bits but I did hit my start, turns, and wow, did you see that finish?"

They are all constantly a work in progress. And we all have our set backs/limitations - either from just opportunity to injury, sore backs, etc etc...but think incrementally - just one a day on average...one extra turn to practice, one extra dive.....if not good for 1/2 second, at least 1 tenth??

qbrain
March 11th, 2010, 10:47 AM
I might print out Michelle's response and hang it on my wall.

BR KnuckleDragger
March 11th, 2010, 01:26 PM
Herb,

I am a huge fan of Rich Abrahams' training and overall philosophy. Search through his threads and replies!!! Also go back and search on Gary Hall, Sr. And of course, ANDE!!

Here are some things you can try:

1. Remember EVERY race starts with a dive. Or a backstroke start. Not just the 50 free. You knock 1/5 second off your start and breakout, that is 1/2 second of any event. Welcome to 59.50!!!

2. You have one fast turn in a 50. But you have THREE in a 100. Even more reason to work on your turns!!!

How to do it? Try these!

Do 6 x, 8x, or even 10x if you can handle the body jarring - dive/breakout/FOUR fast strokes. Emphasis is on gettting the right angle of entry, streamline position, and up and into your race pace immediately, then shut it off. I find that doing 25's or even 12 1/2's sometimes inhibits me from getting that real blast-off feeling. It may not be practical to always do dives, but if you only do fast stuff from the wall.....you aren't starting from the wall in a race! NOT the same angle!!

It sounds like your problem isn't so much getting the arms going, but if you have bad starts and splatting-turns, you are essentially doing 3 races from a dead start each time (at the official start, again when you break out, and once more after your turn). If you are "flailing" as you say, it may be because you haven't "set up" your initial momentum, so you have no choice but to start flailing to get your speed.

Turn work: break it down completely. Start at the wall, get under the water in the EXACT streamline position (feet on the wall) you would PUSH OFF the wall on a flip turn. Take a big breath, now! Get under the water, and start from a DEAD start, and PUSH off, kick, break out, and take FOUR strokes. Same theory. You will feel EVERY inefficiency from a dead start.
3. Reverse it, and practice going into the wall. Do it with stopping with your feet at the wall, or do the turn pushing off on your back. I like to focus on staying in alignment and not getting lazing and slapping my legs every which way and what the heck are my arms doing?

Start with both hands on the wall. Kick freestlye, really hard, no breathing! Then have someone randomly yell, GO! and then you do an open turn as fast as you possibly can, kick off the wall, and take 4 fast strokes. It works best kicking freestyle, turning and going fly or breast.

Dive, dive, dive. Again, it's part of every race! I usually take a day and do all those special things by myself. If you do 1 dive a day, that's hundreds a year. It will make a huge difference.

Underwaters. I am a huge fan of these. I usually do 25's underwater right after my basic warmup (400 or 500). Usually 4 x 25 on 45 or 1 minute (SCM). I use that time to do a "body scan", and think about my joints loosening up, and to relax from my hectic schedule, and open up my lungs.

Mental toughness! Do you know your breathing pattern for your 50 and 100's? You should. Do you execute them, without fail? In a race, do you know exactly where you are? These are things you can train your mind. It requires no physical effort! I like that!

Think of it this way: You have to find the right 10 hits to put on your greatest hits album. You have to pick and chose the best (or lowest hanging fruit) 10 things to do that will maximize your performance in your chosen events, and you cannot have a profound weakness in any one area. Doing things you are already good at isn't going to make you better - but doing the things you really hate and are not good at will improve your performance! (And while I am on my soapbox - if you are doing "drills" on the same interval as you swim, then you either aren't doing them right or you are doing drills you are already good at, so pick something else! And don't swim on my feet! Grr!)

Think about it this way: start & breakout & 4 strokes? 15 meters. In & out of 3 turns? 3 x 10 meters = 30 meters. The finish? 5 meters. That's 50 meters, or HALF of your race!!! I would classify these as more in the "mental" category - simply because it is a LAPSE of attention here that will impact your peformance. The middle swimming bits - you almost never hear people say - "I forgot to swim fast in the middle!" or "I really blew the middle swimming bits but I did hit my start, turns, and wow, did you see that finish?"

They are all constantly a work in progress. And we all have our set backs/limitations - either from just opportunity to injury, sore backs, etc etc...but think incrementally - just one a day on average...one extra turn to practice, one extra dive.....if not good for 1/2 second, at least 1 tenth??

Fantastic Advice!!! I know i'm inspired!!

:cheerleader:

Herb
March 11th, 2010, 07:24 PM
Chowmi, thanks for taking the time to post that. Not much I can say now, just need to try go out there and do it.

aquageek
March 12th, 2010, 10:45 AM
I believe that humans are fundamentally very lazy (at least I am), and our bodies will adapt without conscious input to make our repetitive tasks easier. So your streamline will get tighter, your flips quicker, your pushes stronger, and your stroke more efficient simply because your body is tired of being asked to do 28 second 50 yard flails inefficiently. Your fundamental flaws will either disappear or will be adapted in some fashion into your stroke in a way that makes it easier for you to swim a 28. And yes, if you keep at it, one day you will swim a 26 because the unconscious changes will have made you a better swimmer. I believe you can accelerate the process by consciously working on technique, but improvement is inevitable.

I completely disagree with this. If you continue to do something wrong over and over and over your body may adapt to it but certainly you won't see any improvement. It's not like driving a lot on a flat tire makes it magically repair itself. Proper training, proper technique, drilling and conscious effort leads to improvement, not the continued repetition of mistakes.

Unconscious inevitable improvement is an oxymoron. I've seen the same people do the same stroke with the same flaws for years and years and their times get slower and slower and slower.

JimRude
March 12th, 2010, 11:05 AM
I completely disagree with this. If you continue to do something wrong over and over and over your body may adapt to it but certainly you won't see any improvement. It's not like driving a lot on a flat tire makes it magically repair itself. Proper training, proper technique, drilling and conscious effort leads to improvement, not the continued repetition of mistakes.

Unconscious inevitable improvement is an oxymoron. I've seen the same people do the same stroke with the same flaws for years and years and their times get slower and slower and slower.

Gotta agree with the Geek. As the saying goes, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect". If you do dozens of lazy FR flip turns every day, and hundreds every week, and thousands every month, there is NO way you will do a proper one in the one meet you swim every 8-12 weeks.

You need to ingrain good habits (don't breath out of turn, don't breath inside flags, take 4 SDKs off every wall, or - my favorite - do TWO handed BR turns every time) in practice so that you don't have to think about it when racing.

:2cents:

Lump
March 12th, 2010, 11:46 AM
Well this AM I grinded through a test set of 16 x 50's all out on 3:00 (from a start). Ouch! I was pretty spent by the end. The whole workout was about 3300, but I feel like it was 6500.

I tried working on my dive (entry), breakout, breathing pattern (the same each time), and just holding my technique together.

aquageek
March 12th, 2010, 11:57 AM
Well this AM I grinded through a test set of 16 x 50's all out on 3:00 (from a start). Ouch! I was pretty spent by the end. The whole workout was about 3300, but I feel like it was 6500.

Solid and painful!

Allen Stark
March 12th, 2010, 03:17 PM
I have absolutely nothing against technique improvement. I think it is the root cause of my problems and frustration.

Unfortunately I think my swim stroke might be similar to my golf stroke. I was a decent golfer, for a weekend hack. I could consistently shoot mid 80s and occassionally break 80. Occassionally I would hear comments about how funky my stroke was. One day I was playing with a pro and he told me "honestly your stroke is so screwed up that I could help you but you would go through a whole year of misery to even get back to where you are at now so I don't think you even want to hear it".

I don't know how much swimming is like golf in that regard, but I imagine I have swam x million yards with a flawed stroke. I have finally got some coaching and I'm working on it but it is tough for me to translate. With workout sets, at least I know what I have to do.

I have been swimming Masters since 1974 with good success(several AAs in BR),but in 2003 I was fortunate to go to the swim camp at the Olympic Training Center.The coaches pointed out several stroke flaws.It took me about 6 mo before my stroke felt good again and my SCY meet in Apr was horrendous(one coach said I was thinking instead of swimming.)Since then I have gotten faster and always look at my stroke as a work in progress.Remember"good is the enemy of great."

smontanaro
March 12th, 2010, 03:50 PM
... in 2003 I was fortunate to go to the swim camp at the Olympic Training Center. The coaches pointed out several stroke flaws....

That sort of suggests that to get beyond a certain point it probably makes sense to attend a clinic where you get more than the usual attention to detail. A fresh set of eyes so-to-speak.

Skip

qbrain
March 12th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Since then I have gotten faster and always look at my stroke as a work in progress.

Bobby Patten shared this story from a clinic he was giving back when he was younger with Matt Biondi, Pablo Morales and another great, Jager maybe.

A kid asked when they learned to swim. The answers started coming back, 6, 7, 12 and got to Pablo. Pablo said, with all seriousness, that he was still learning to swim.

fritznh
March 13th, 2010, 02:57 PM
I had a similar experience with a clinic I went to. I had a couple of coaches who really knew something point out some flaws in what I was doing with my freestyle, and I wound up taking about 1.7 seconds off my 50 after I did my best to incorporate their suggestions. I am still working on freestyle and I wind up going back to some bad habits when I get tired, but at least I start to realize what is going on. It is still a work in progress, but what was said above is correct: perfect practice makes perfect.

So if you're really stuck, go to a clinic and have someone take a hard look at your stroke. Then really try to incorporate those changes. It is not easy, but it is very interesting. Ande's tips are also really good -- there is a lot of very solid information there.

Best of luck!