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srcoyote
May 6th, 2011, 10:44 AM
After recognizing that my stroke is much longer than most OWS, I decided to poke around and see if stroke was different for OW as opposed to swimming in a pool. I found this (There is a part 2 if you click on the channel and scroll down the right side):

YouTube - Swim Smooth: What Is An Efficient Freestyle Stroke? Part 1

I would love to get reactions. I know that when I quicken my stroke rate and shorten my stroke I seem to fatigue much more quickly. However, this could be due to not pursuing this long enough to re-establish breathing patterns. (When I concentrate on my stroke, I tend to hold my breath without realizing it).

I do know that while my per 100 pace is slowly improving with more speed work in my work outs, it has dropped now where near what it used to be 20 years ago.

evmo
May 6th, 2011, 12:01 PM
Brilliant video - though it's nearly 6 minutes long so I'll summarize:

Paul begins with the observation that any given heat of elite pool freestylers will have sometimes wildly divergent styles - not all of which are the classic "long, smooth" form taught in books, articles, and videos (which Paul diplomatically doesn't name). He points to Laure Manaudou and Janet Evans as particularly striking examples.

Further, open water swimmers and elite triathletes "seem to be a lot more choppy, punchy, and with a much higher stroke rate" than their pool counterparts.

The "choppy, punchy, high SR" style - despite seemingly breaking all the rules of [unnamed stroke technique philosophy] - is by definition efficient for these swimmers, because they are competing (and often winning) at the highest level of the sport.

Therefore, he says, "Efficiency in the water cannot be measured by the number of strokes you take per length, by itself. That would be a gross oversimplification of the freestyle stroke."

Personally, I use a higher SR in open water than I do in distance pool races, and I think it works for me.

As a counterpoint - and, I think, much less compelling argument - see this:
http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html

evmo
May 6th, 2011, 12:22 PM
The broader point here is that the stroke rate, length, and style that is most efficient for you may or may not be what is efficient for someone else.

And regarding OW vs. pool - a naturally "punchier" style may be one correlate of a swimmer excelling in OW relative to the pool.

E=H2O
May 6th, 2011, 12:29 PM
The first time I saw that video series it improved my self esteem. No more feeling bad because of my high stroke rate in the pool. When people approached me to offer some kind suggestions about my stroke, i just tell them that I come from the Janet Evans school of freestyle. One of the great things of open water is that no one can see how sloppy your stroke is from shore.

chaos
May 6th, 2011, 02:09 PM
Paul begins with the observation that any given heat of elite pool freestylers will have sometimes wildly divergent styles - not all of which are the classic "long, smooth" form taught in books, articles, and videos (which Paul diplomatically doesn't name). He points to Laure Manaudou and Janet Evans as particularly striking examples.

i had the pleasure of watching the distance guys at UT a couple of years ago...
they were doing a set of 5x 200 on 2:30. the leaders of 2 adjacent lanes were both holding 1:43's... one at 16 SPL, one at 9 SPL. at 16 SPL: very impressive. at 9 SPL; mind blowing (at least to me). what does this have to do with OW? nothing

E=H2O
May 6th, 2011, 02:13 PM
To maintain 16 SPL at any kind of speed requires a very powerful kick, or a 6' 8" body and a 7' wingspan

srcoyote
May 6th, 2011, 03:01 PM
OK. So I just adjusted my workout today to focus on seeing if I could hold a shorter stroke with a faster turnover. My workout was mostly sets of 100's and 200's.

I found that if I swam 100's on a 1:30 interval targeting 1:20, I could sustain this type of set much longer with a shorter stroke and faster turnover. Unfortunatley, I also found out that I could NOT finish a 300 with shorter stroke and faster turnover. I had lactic burning in my arms (I almost never feel that unless I'm doing a lot of sprinting). I couldn't seem to find a forever pace.

Maybe it's just so foreign to my usual much longer stroke that it is still screwing with my breathing rhythm. So at a distance of 100 yards, I don't quite feel the fatigue and the 10 seconds rest allows me to catch up.

I'm still wondering if I should continue this experiment.

chaos
May 6th, 2011, 03:24 PM
I'm still wondering if I should continue this experiment.

golf is a good experiment:

repeat 50's on x interval
establish a comfortable avg time
reduce SPL until you can no longer hold time as above.

now experiment with adding strokes without increasing time.
does this feel easier? better able to sustain over long periods?
these are questions you have to answer for yourself.

now, add all the OW variables.... chop, waves, current, sighting, etc. i know i vary my SR and breathing pattern to adjust to the moment though i have watched some very impressive performances where the swimmer held steady through quite varied conditions.

you have to work with what you have. me? i never had a high SR... and i'm not that fast.

lefty
May 6th, 2011, 04:20 PM
To maintain 16 SPL at any kind of speed requires a very powerful kick, or a 6' 8" body and a 7' wingspan

I think you have this backwards. 16 strokes per lap is very short, not long.

I read this article on Lance Armstrong. His pedal rate into strong winds is in excess of 110. He gears down and pedals really fast. His rivals do the opposite. They slow their rate down and pedal harder. The writers explanation is that Lance' stregnth was his Vo2 Max while others strength was their leg power.

The translation to swimming is obvious. This possibly explains why Triathletes have higher stroke rates than "true" swimmers.

Anyone notice that people are swimming on the left side of the lane in that video?

evmo
May 6th, 2011, 05:27 PM
they were doing a set of 5x 200 on 2:30. the leaders of 2 adjacent lanes were both holding 1:43's... one at 16 SPL, one at 9 SPL.
...
what does this have to do with OW? nothing

Here's a hypothetical question: Of the two guys holding 1:43s, which one would be better in open water? (Assuming similar navigational IQ, psychological make-up, etc.) My bet is on the guy doing 16 SPL. How do I know? I don't. It's just that - for whatever reason - the best open water swimmers seem to have higher SR's than the best pool distance swimmers. Correlation isn't causation - but it is what it is.

When Grant Hackett went 14:34, he was holding 75 SPM. In the 2000 Olympics, the average SR for the top 8 men in the 1500 was 82 SPM (Salo & Riewald, Appendix A). What about the 400 Free? 84 SPM. And then there's open water. Here's a video of the 2010 USA-S 10K Nationals:

YouTube - Tactics & Techniques of Elite Open Water Swimmers

I measured the SR's of 5 or 6 different guys, and I couldn't find a single one under 80 SPM - in the middle of a 10K. Indeed, many were substantially higher. The end of the video shows the final 100m, when Fran Crippen out-touches Chip Peterson. Chip was stroking at about 92 SPM, and Fran at certain points was over 100 SPM. After 9,900m of swimming.

My pet theory (as you know) is that higher SR's have an advantage in those types of races because they're able to maintain more consistent velocity when knocked off balance by choppy water and/or other swimmers in close proximity. The scrum of an open-water peloton (especially during starts and around turn buoys) is not the place for a leisurely SR. Also, I find I can sight more efficiently with a higher SR. It's less disruptive to the flow of my stroke.

Am I saying any given random Masters swimmer should try to increase their SR to become better in open water? Not at all.

P.S., I guess I'm a little sensitive on this issue because I recently had a TI coach encourage me to be more "patient" with my catch - to do more of a catch-up style stroke, even if it lowered my SR. I experimented this for a while - and it made me slower. I think it was bad advice - and he knew I'm primarily an open water swimmer. I wonder if Paul Newsome would given the same advice?

E=H2O
May 6th, 2011, 06:59 PM
I think you have this backwards. 16 strokes per lap is very short, not long.

You're right. I quoted the wrong SPL number.


I read this article on Lance Armstrong. His pedal rate into strong winds is in excess of 110. He gears down and pedals really fast. His rivals do the opposite. They slow their rate down and pedal harder. The writers explanation is that Lance' stregnth was his Vo2 Max while others strength was their leg power.

I agree. Compare Lance to Ullrich, who some refer to as riding like he has a diesel engine. Diesel engines have relatively high torque and reach there peak HP at relatively low RPMs. Compare that to a normally aspirated Honda engine. Low torque numbers, and reaches its top HP at high RPMS

chaos
May 6th, 2011, 07:53 PM
mine in bold
Here's a hypothetical question: Of the two guys holding 1:43s, which one would be better in open water? (Assuming similar navigational IQ, psychological make-up, etc.) My bet is on the guy doing 16 SPL. don't know... but the 9spl guy was in the olympics the other was notHow do I know? I don't. It's just that - for whatever reason - the best open water swimmers seem to have higher SR's than the best pool distance swimmers. Correlation isn't causation - but it is what it is.

When Grant Hackett went 14:34, he was holding 75 SPM. In the 2000 Olympics, the average SR for the top 8 men in the 1500 was 82 SPM (Salo & Riewald, Appendix A). What about the 400 Free? 84 SPM. And then there's open water. Here's a video of the 2010 USA-S 10K Nationals:

YouTube - Tactics & Techniques of Elite Open Water Swimmers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzJv-SZ41II)

I measured the SR's of 5 or 6 different guys, and I couldn't find a single one under 80 SPM - in the middle of a 10K. Indeed, many were substantially higher. The end of the video shows the final 100m, when Fran Crippen out-touches Chip Peterson. Chip was stroking at about 92 SPM, and Fran at certain points was over 100 SPM. After 9,900m of swimming.SR being =, the higher stroke length wins

My pet theory (as you know) is that higher SR's have an advantage in those types of races because they're able to maintain more consistent velocity when knocked off balance by choppy water and/or other swimmers in close proximity. The scrum of an open-water peloton (especially during starts and around turn buoys) is not the place for a leisurely SR. Also, I find I can sight more efficiently with a higher SR. It's less disruptive to the flow of my stroke.

Am I saying any given random Masters swimmer should try to increase their SR to become better in open water? Not at all.

P.S., I guess I'm a little sensitive on this issue because I recently had a TI coach encourage me to be more "patient" with my catch - to do more of a catch-up style stroke, even if it lowered my SR. i find that i have to slow things down to learn something new. the lesson is 2 parts. part 1 increase distance per stroke (one must usually slow down to do this) part 2 maintain distance per stroke while increasing SRI experimented this for a while - and it made me slower. I think it was bad advice - and he knew I'm primarily an open water swimmer. I wonder if Paul Newsome would given the same advice?i think paul would agree that there are only 2 ways to get faster; increase SR while maintaining DPS of increase DPS while maintaining SR

evmo
May 8th, 2011, 02:32 PM
My issues with TI aside, the thread topic is "Stroke Rate & Stroke Length in OW." David linked to a video by "Swim Smooth" coach Paul Newsome, which argued that a shorter, punchier stroke can be efficient for some swimmers, and indeed may confer an advantage in open water.

The following statement is, I believe, uncontroversial: For each individual, there's an ideal combination of SL and SR. All other combinations (SR+/SL- or SR-/SL+) are "inefficient." For the mathematically inclined, see this graph from Maglischo:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105083/SR.SL.png

So in Maglischo terms, the idea is that in open water, the curve may shift slightly to the right. In other words: Sacrificing some SL in favor of SR may help in OW. I presented some suggestive evidence for this (video of elite OW swimmers), and offered a few potential reasons (more consistent velocity, balance, more efficient sighting).

I'm still waiting for someone to engage in an evidence-based debate with me on this (or something besides "This has nothing to do with OW").


SR being =, the higher stroke length wins

If you're referring to the video of Fran and Chip, it actually shows the opposite: SL being equal, the higher SR wins.

Here's another video from yesterday's Crippen SafeSwim 10K, showing pros Andrew Gemmell (97 SPM), Sergiy Fesenko (86 SPM), and Chad LaTourette (81 SPM). Gemmell won.

YouTube - Fran Crippen SafeSwim 10K Elite Men


The video was taken at about the 8K mark. 97 SPM in the middle of a 10K! Interestingly, the lowest SR of the three (LaTourette) is the best pool swimmer.

evmo
May 8th, 2011, 03:41 PM
the lesson is 2 parts. part 1 increase distance per stroke (one must usually slow down to do this) part 2 maintain distance per stroke while increasing SR

I'm familiar with the lesson - and I think it's the right approach for novice swimmers. Is it the right approach for an expert swimmer? Maybe - but maybe not. A smart coach looks at both factors - SL and SR - and decides where the "low-hanging fruit" are. In some cases, SR might be the lower-hanging fruit. A coach shouldn't automatically assume that a catch-up stroke (higher SL) will be more efficient. I'm sure there were coaches who thought Janet Evans should be more "patient" with her catch. And those coaches would be idiots.

Chaos, you're a TI coach, so I'll ask your opinion:

I'm currently an 18:08 miler (unrested). In college I was about 16:30. My stroke count per 25 yards - then and now - is 14. The difference between my 19-year old self and my 31-year old self is the stroke rate I was capable of sustaining.

At 14 SPL, I'm well below the suggested stroke-count range (16-19) for my height (5 ft 7 in), as suggested by Terry Laughlin (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1240). For an open-water 10K, my SR is typically 65-67 SPM. World-class OW swimmers - most of whom are 6-9 inches taller than me - are more like 80-90 SPM.

Here's a video of me swimming 100 yards in a pool at my 10K effort (65-67 SPM):

YouTube - 110310d 100FR d2-3


Given this information, would your advice to me be: "Evan, the best way for you to take your swimming to the next level is to do more of a catch-up stroke" ? Is my stroke length really the low-hanging fruit here?

Sounds crazy, right? Well, that was the advice given to me by a TI coach.

E=H2O
May 8th, 2011, 04:16 PM
I'd like to offer an observation, based only on my own personal experiences and some tenuous connections to physics.

First, not all open water swimming is the same. Let's assume just for the sake of argument that in all cases a swimmer in a pool is faster if they lower their SPL. If we move that pool swimmer into a calm lake, and assuming there are no other swimmers around, then that swimmer should remain the fastest. So the question is: does the longer stroke being used by the swimmer become a disadvantage as the conditions worsen? If so, how bad do they have to get.

Second, not all swimmers ultimately reach a magic SPL that guarantees success. Regardless of SPL, some swimmers simply will not make it to the top. So that means that there are other biomechanical & physiological issues that will determine maximum performance.

So what does this mean? Frankly, I don't know other than comparing one swimmer to another by simply comparing SPL seems helpful but not definitive. If I understand Chaos he is saying they as to each individual swimmer, decreasing SPL makes them a faster pool swimmer. Not necessarily when they are working on the skill, but it does once they return to their previous SR. This seems to be a good common sense argument, but my question is: so what? (SARC INT)

What I think EVMO is saying (and please guys correct me if I am wrong) that a higher SR allows the swimmer to adapt better to the conditions in a swim. If this is true, how bad do the conditions have to be for it to be a meaningful advantage. I don't know.

However, what I do know (or believe, if you prefer) that a shorter stroke (i.e. higher SR) allows me to adjust my stroke to take advantage of the conditions - or at least not be dominated by them. If I have a low SPL and low SR then as I swim in rough water the wave, or waves if the the wind and deep swells are not identical in direction and period, will interfere with the rhythm of my stroke and cause me to lose momentum. If I switch to a higher SPL and higher SR this will minimize the negative effect of the waves. This is critical because it always requires less power to achieve a certain average speed if your speed is constant, than if you are constantly speeding up and slowing down. each stroke cycle.

chaos
May 8th, 2011, 08:19 PM
Here's another video from yesterday's Crippen SafeSwim 10K, showing pros Andrew Gemmell (97 SPM), Sergiy Fesenko (86 SPM), and Chad LaTourette (81 SPM). Gemmell won.

YouTube - Fran Crippen SafeSwim 10K Elite Men (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu92fvauYBs)


The video was taken at about the 8K mark. 97 SPM in the middle of a 10K! Interestingly, the lowest SR of the three (LaTourette) is the best pool swimmer.

gemmel certainly looks smoother in this vid. he is out in front and the other two are catching a draft. that alone might account for the difference in SR... fesenko appears to expending a lot of energy looking at gemmell. i would think he could feel whats going on from such a vantage point. was there a sprint to the finish? or did they spread out?

chaos
May 8th, 2011, 08:57 PM
Here's a video of me swimming 100 yards in a pool at my 10K effort (65-67 SPM):

YouTube - 110310d 100FR d2-3 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5MHwQo_dx8)


Given this information, would your advice to me be: "Evan, the best way for you to take your swimming to the next level is to do more of a catch-up stroke" ? Is my stroke length really the low-hanging fruit here?

Sounds crazy, right? Well, that was the advice given to me by a TI coach.

i won't comment on what advice you were given as i don't know the context but, based on your swimming history and present shape, i would say that there may not be any low hanging fruit. since 14 SPL seems to be a comfortable i would try and design sets that help you test the hypothesis that a higher SPL will be faster.... but that isn't the only question. there may be a net gain even if there is no benefit to your speed and that would be if a higher SR felt easier, and more sustainable over long distances. i would assign sets like this:
12x 600 on 9:00 descend in sets of 3

1. 13 SPL breath every 3
2. 13 SPL breathe 2r / 2l
3. 13 SPL breath 25yds r / 25yds l

4 - 6 as above 14 SPL

7 - 9 as above 15 SPL

10 - 12 as above 16 SPL

try to maintain the same effort throughout so you might determine how both SR and breathing pattern effect speed and sustainability. the next time... do the set in reverse. as a data junkie, i think (hope) sets like this would appeal to you and perhaps give you some of the feedback you're looking for. i would avoid giving any instruction as to how i think you might change things to hit the targeted SPL's but would say to try and keep the walls consistent.

thats what i would do (and its why i don't have any friends)

chaos
May 8th, 2011, 09:04 PM
If I have a low SPL and low SR then as I swim in rough water the wave, or waves if the the wind and deep swells are not identical in direction and period, will interfere with the rhythm of my stroke and cause me to lose momentum. If I switch to a higher SPL and higher SR this will minimize the negative effect of the waves. This is critical because it always requires less power to achieve a certain average speed if your speed is constant, than if you are constantly speeding up and slowing down. each stroke cycle.

i think its important to have a range of SR's and breathing patterns at ones disposal to be able to establish peace with adverse conditions. sometimes i slow it down, sometimes i speed it up.

srcoyote
May 9th, 2011, 08:50 AM
i think its important to have a range of SR's and breathing patterns at ones disposal to be able to establish peace with adverse conditions. sometimes i slow it down, sometimes i speed it up.

I think this is the conclusion I'm coming to. I originally began exploring this to see if there was anything I could do to speed up my long distance pace for 3K to 5K swims. For the last two years, I've stagnated at a 1:27 to 1:30 (depending on my conditioning) per 100 yard pace at 15 SPL.

I came across the video at the top of the thread and noted that it wasn't only OWS that have the shorter, choppier stroke. Some well known distance pool swimmers (Janet Evans) have the same stroke. So I decided to try to see if I could adapt my stroke.

I tried the golf exercise this past weekend. It took a lot of effort for me to fit in more than 17 SPL. While my physical effort felt very similar at both 15 SPL and 17 SPL, the 17 SPL 50's were much faster. However, I found I can't sustain 17 SPL at higher stroke rate for longer than 200 yards. I believe much of the reason for this is my failure to find a new breathing rhythm at 17 SPL.

I have decided to table my experiment until I can get in a 50m pool so I'm not having to factor in newly awkward turns as well. 25y may be too short a distance for me to experiment. I can't find a stroke or breathing rhythm before it's time for a turn.

I do think I will continue to work on a "second" stroke for use in some OWS. There is 2.4 miler I've done that involves 1.2 miles of up river swimming. My usual 15 SPL didn't seem very effective up river on that one. Maybe a shorter stroke will help me maintain forward momentum.

As for speeding up my distance pace, I may have to keep looking for other ideas.

lefty
May 9th, 2011, 12:51 PM
i find that i have to slow things down to learn something new. the lesson is 2 parts. part 1 increase distance per stroke (one must usually slow down to do this) part 2 maintain distance per stroke while increasing SRI

This is more or less what I have spend the last 13 months doing. I decided I was going to increase DPS and committed to swimming lmost every lap at 12 LPS in 25 yards and 14 in 25 meters. I only bothered with speed once or twice per week. I think it worked well because at races I reverted my focus back to rate, not DPS. Yes, you have to find the right combination of DPS and Rate to attain maximum speed, you also have to find the right combination of working on it at practice.

Here is the article I referenced: http://www.trifuel.com/training/bike/cycling-cadence-and-pedaling-economy

evmo
May 9th, 2011, 01:57 PM
So the question is: does the longer stroke being used by the swimmer become a disadvantage as the conditions worsen? If so, how bad do they have to get.

My intuition is "Yes" - but it's based only on the observation that the fastest pool swimmers are usually not the fastest OW swimmers - and the latter often have punchier stroke technique. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to do a controlled experiment.


If I understand Chaos he is saying they as to each individual swimmer, decreasing SPL makes them a faster pool swimmer. Not necessarily when they are working on the skill, but it does once they return to their previous SR.

"Once they return to their previous SR" is the key point. If you're already swimming at an efficient combination of SL & SR, increasing SL can only make you slower.


If I have a low SPL and low SR then as I swim in rough water the wave, or waves if the the wind and deep swells are not identical in direction and period, will interfere with the rhythm of my stroke and cause me to lose momentum.

This describes my experience exactly.


was there a sprint to the finish? or did they spread out?

From what I can tell, they were in pretty much the same orientation at the finish as during the 8K clip.


since 14 SPL seems to be a comfortable i would try and design sets that help you test the hypothesis that a higher SPL will be faster....
i would assign sets like this:
12x 600 on 9:00 descend in sets of 3
.....


That's great advice - thanks. I've done similar sets a few times, but not quite as systematically as you describe. One wrinkle is that my hypothesis about SL/SR relates specifically to rough-water conditions, which makes it somewhat harder to test.


thats what i would do (and its why i don't have any friends)

I am your friend!


While my physical effort felt very similar at both 15 SPL and 17 SPL, the 17 SPL 50's were much faster. However, I found I can't sustain 17 SPL at higher stroke rate for longer than 200 yards.

My question would be, are you really holding your physical effort constant between 15 & 17 SPL? If you're getting tired sooner, it would seem to indicate that you're expending more energy.

When I try to increase SR (keeping effort constant), I'm consciously trying to pull less water - letting my catch slide a bit, and perhaps not following through as far. Chaos has described this in a different thread as a "lighter touch."


25y may be too short a distance for me to experiment.

To take that even further, the ideal place to experiment is in actual open water - preferably rough water. To me, having to deal with chop and navigation is where the higher SR really shines. I can't practice a "rough water stroke" in a 25-yard pool, either - it just doesn't feel right.

orca1946
May 9th, 2011, 03:01 PM
It's hard to run pool strokes to O W. Try a set in O W & the same distance with a diff. stroke # & compare times on what You

Kevin in MD
May 9th, 2011, 04:39 PM
Therefore, he says, "Efficiency in the water cannot be measured by the number of strokes you take per length, by itself. That would be a gross oversimplification of the freestyle stroke."

Keep in mind who we are talking about and possibly who we are talking t

Or as I like to say, "how is what these people are saying correct?"

In my triathlon class it is uncanny the degree to which strokes per length correlates with speed. Having seen it for years I am still sometimes very surprised. The slowest folks are at 22 to 27 strokes per length (25 yards), the next slowest are in the 19 to 22 range. The getting there folks are in the 16 to 19 range and the fastest are 13 to 16.

Also that range will cover 2,000 paces of 2:25 per 100 down to 1:12 per 100.

Across such a large variation, yes you will see the big differences. However, in studies looking at say, the final 8 swimmers at world championships there does not seem to be a relation between stroke count and speed. But also the speeds represented are very close together.

Correlations on tightly grouped data are not obvious and sometimes don't show up.

To that point, in my faster group of masters swimmers we have some people at 19 or 20, some at 14 and they swim roughly the same speed.

srcoyote
May 10th, 2011, 08:35 AM
My question would be, are you really holding your physical effort constant between 15 & 17 SPL? If you're getting tired sooner, it would seem to indicate that you're expending more energy.

When I try to increase SR (keeping effort constant), I'm consciously trying to pull less water - letting my catch slide a bit, and perhaps not following through as far. Chaos has described this in a different thread as a "lighter touch."

To take that even further, the ideal place to experiment is in actual open water - preferably rough water. To me, having to deal with chop and navigation is where the higher SR really shines. I can't practice a "rough water stroke" in a 25-yard pool, either - it just doesn't feel right.

I think this is where I'm headed. My lack of efficiency at 17 SPL in a 25 yard pool is due to lack of breath exchange efficiency rather than my arms and body expending more energy. When I hit my forever pace at any stroke rate, I do so because I've found a natural breathing rhythm. When I drilled at higher stroke rate in pool, I couldn't find that rhythm. It will take time.

evmo
May 10th, 2011, 09:50 AM
Correlations on tightly grouped data are not obvious and sometimes don't show up.

Kevin that's a great point, and one that I appreciate as a data nerd. Again I'll refer to the idea of "low hanging fruit." For somebody swimming 27 SPL, their time is probably best spent figuring out how to get below 20. For somebody already below 15 SPL, there may be gains to be found on the SR side of the equation (usually, through increasing strength and fitness). The latter point is, I believe, somewhat underappreciated in some circles.


My lack of efficiency at 17 SPL in a 25 yard pool is due to lack of breath exchange efficiency rather than my arms and body expending more energy.

Without having seen your stroke, my best guess is that you may be rotating your head too far while breathing? Try rotating just far enough to breathe out of one side of your mouth, and this might help speed up the breath exchange. Another thing to try is swimming with a snorkel... this removes the head-rotation element and you may not have the same issues raising SR.

jbs
May 10th, 2011, 10:17 AM
Without having seen your stroke, my best guess is that you may be rotating your head too far while breathing? Try rotating just far enough to breathe out of one side of your mouth, and this might help speed up the breath exchange. Another thing to try is swimming with a snorkel... this removes the head-rotation element and you may not have the same issues raising SR.

One other thought about the breathing: are you holding your breath? Or put another way, is it possible that as you increase stroke rate, you are not getting enough air out before the next breath?

As you increase stroke rate, you are also increasing the number of opportunities for a breath per length. Just as an example, I breathe every stroke. At 13 strokes per length, that means I'm getting 7 breaths a length more or less. If I increase my rate to 15 spl, I'm now getting 8. Now add into that the speed that comes with the increased stroke rate. For me, I am faster at 15 spl than I am at 13. That means that not only am I taking more breaths per length, they are coming a lot closer together in time. Thus, if I did that 13 spl 25 yards in 20 seconds, I'd be taking a breath every 2.85 or so seconds. If I did the 15 spl 25 yards in 17 seconds, that goes down to 2.1 seconds.

Ok, I know that's not exact because of walls, etc. But the point is that if you are holding your breath at all, or if you are accustomed to slowly exhaling (in keeping with the rhythm of the slower stroke rate) you may not be getting enough air out in time to take a good next breath.

Not sure if that helps you, but thought I'd mention it as a possibility.

srcoyote
May 10th, 2011, 11:53 AM
One other thought about the breathing: are you holding your breath? Or put another way, is it possible that as you increase stroke rate, you are not getting enough air out before the next breath?

You nailed it. My usual breathing pattern is 2R/2L without much head turn.

1. When I concentrate on stroke changes or drills that differ from my usual stroke, I forget to breathe and hold my breath. As the drill or stroke becomes more familiar within the set I'll eventually remember to breathe.

2. I got past #1 in this drill, but by quickening my stroke rate, I wasn't exhaling enough before my next breath. For a faster stroke rate I might have to BE3 or something. I just need to find the breathing rhythm that allows me to make the most of each inhale and exhale.

While even the video I posted to start this thread clearly makes the point that different strokes work for different people, I'm trying to find if there are elements of my stroke on which I can focus for improvement in speeding up my long distance pace. So far, just by drilling a shorter, choppier stroke, I have removed some of the glide from my usual stroke which can resemble an almost catch-up drill. Before now, I had not considered maintaining momentum as part of stroke efficiency.

I am still trying to find my potential. I thoroughly enjoy swimming in open water events and will continue to do so even if my distance pace never breaks 1:25/100 yards. But it would be fun to go faster if I can.

chaos
May 11th, 2011, 08:45 AM
1. When I concentrate on stroke changes or drills that differ from my usual stroke, I forget to breathe and hold my breath. As the drill or stroke becomes more familiar within the set I'll eventually remember to breathe.


during long OW swims, i will often change pace frequently for stretches, an example:
16 long strokes breathing only one side or the other (consider each hand strike an eighth note in rhythmic terms, or each breath a quarter note), then go right into 16 beats of eighth note triplets.. breathing every three strokes. repeat this sequence switching the side you breathe on during the eighth notes.

my goal is to try and hold the same speed throughout. it is challenging on both ends. during the long strokes, i haver to maintain maximum purchase and a strong 2 beat kick, on the triplets, the turn over is fast and lighter... easy to get too light. this practice works well if i am swimming right alongside someone and can monitor my speed based on their steady pace.

have fun with it.

couldbebetterfly
May 11th, 2011, 10:06 AM
For somebody already below 15 SPL, there may be gains to be found on the SR side of the equation (usually, through increasing strength and fitness). The latter point is, I believe, somewhat underappreciated in some circles.




I think there's definitely something in the SR only to a point theory. I count strokes a lot and can do 13 or 14 per 25 yards in warm up, but that increases to around 17 when I need to hold a decent 100 or 200 rep pace.

I also noticed yesterday when I swam long course (for the first time in years) that my SR went through the roof at 44 - 46 per length. I actually thought while swimming that I'd gone into OW "panic" mode. So maybe its an instinctive thing for some, to shorten the stroke in an attempt to maintain a higher velocity.

Interesting thread :)

evmo
May 11th, 2011, 11:28 AM
during long OW swims, i will often change pace frequently for stretches, an example...

Interesting stuff. Is this in response to conditions? To spread the burden on your shoulders? To alleviate boredom? OWS does have a musical quality to it...


I also noticed yesterday when I swam long course (for the first time in years) that my SR went through the roof at 44 - 46 per length.

I don't know that there's an accepted conversion of SCY to LCM for SPL (depends on your turns). If your SCY base is 13-14, then 44-46 for LCM seems high. But if your base is 17, maybe not. Personally, my conversion from 14 is about 38-39.

couldbebetterfly
May 11th, 2011, 05:40 PM
I don't know that there's an accepted conversion of SCY to LCM for SPL (depends on your turns). If your SCY base is 13-14, then 44-46 for LCM seems high. But if your base is 17, maybe not. Personally, my conversion from 14 is about 38-39.

I have no idea if there is a conversion factor either, but I got to 40 strokes and was still nowhere near the end! Like I said, I could feel myself shortening my stroke, keeping myself higher in the water for some reason. Hopefully I can swim LC again tomorrow, thunderstorms permitting, and see how my warm-up goes when I'm not in a "OMG this feels soooo different, help where's the end of the pool? and there's no lifeguard on duty" semi-panic.

srcoyote
May 11th, 2011, 06:57 PM
during long OW swims, i will often change pace frequently for stretches, an example:
16 long strokes breathing only one side or the other (consider each hand strike an eighth note in rhythmic terms, or each breath a quarter note), then go right into 16 beats of eighth note triplets.. breathing every three strokes. repeat this sequence switching the side you breathe on during the eighth notes.

my goal is to try and hold the same speed throughout. it is challenging on both ends. during the long strokes, i haver to maintain maximum purchase and a strong 2 beat kick, on the triplets, the turn over is fast and lighter... easy to get too light. this practice works well if i am swimming right alongside someone and can monitor my speed based on their steady pace.

have fun with it.

Thanks for this. I think I'll try as soon as I can get in some LC or open water swimming and find those rhythms.

KaizenSwimmer
May 13th, 2011, 04:13 PM
I'm currently an 18:08 miler (unrested). In college I was about 16:30. My stroke count per 25 yards - then and now - is 14.
At 14 SPL, I'm well below the suggested stroke-count range (16-19) for my height (5 ft 7 in), as suggested by Terry Laughlin (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1240). For an open-water 10K, my SR is typically 65-67 SPM. World-class OW swimmers - most of whom are 6-9 inches taller than me - are more like 80-90 SPM.

The advice you quote, for SPL range, is the advice we give for novice (or 'adult-onset' as I say) swimmers. In the presentation you link to, I was also careful to say it's not rigid or based on an 'engineered' formula.
Rather it's empirical, drawn from experience with 10s of 1000s of developing adult swimmers. Most come to us with 'survival' strokes. When they achieve a measure of comfort, balance and body control, their stroke counts get into a range like that I gave.

When we are working directly with an athlete, we have an individualized way of helping them arrive at an optimized -- not minimized -- stroke count. After teaching balance, streamline and whole-body-driven propulsion skills, we have them practice with a Tempo Trainer, in an initial range from 1.3 to 1.5 sec/stroke. We have them do Tempo Ladders, working through slower, then faster ranges, to learn where they have the greatest neural control and where it breaks down.

Once they have consolidated at a reasonable level of efficiency or economy, the goal at that point is to patiently, systematically work at improving all the factors available in any swim
Duration
SPL
Tempo


"Evan, the best way for you to take your swimming to the next level is to do more of a catch-up stroke" ? Is my stroke length really the low-hanging fruit here?

Sounds crazy, right? Well, that was the advice given to me by a TI coach.

It does sound crazy, indeed. We never use the phrase 'catch up.' In fact, we have not even used the phrase 'front quadrant' in 12 or 13 years. Any coach who suggested that to you is giving their own input, not representing anything advocated by TI.

A TI Coach who has remained current, rather than use such a vague term, would give you a series of Tempo Trainer exercises (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1104)to allow you to 'organically' optimize your stroke via direct experience.

KaizenSwimmer
May 13th, 2011, 04:18 PM
I have no idea if there is a conversion factor either, but I got to 40 strokes and was still nowhere near the end!

At 6'0" tall (or at least that was my ht 40 years ago) my 25-yd SPL is 13-16. My 50m SPL is 35-41, fwiw.

KaizenSwimmer
May 13th, 2011, 04:39 PM
during long OW swims, i will often change pace frequently for stretches,

I do the same, sometimes to shift the pattern of muscle usage to minimize fatigue, at other times to adjust to a change in water conditions.

The 2006 USMS 10k championship in Huntington Bay (where Dave and I swam much of the race together) was swum on a triangle course, with two shorter eastbound legs and a long westbound leg. On the 2nd loop, we were swimming into the wind, and an outgoing tide on the long leg. The longer stroke and bilateral breathing pattern I used downwind and with the tide no longer felt comfortable. I experimented for a while with different tempos and breathing patterns til I found one that was comfortable and maintained that.

Having more arrows in your quiver allows more adaptation to conditions. But that will only be available to you if you've practiced adaptation by working at a range of SPLs and Tempos. My range of practice SPLs is 13-16 and my range of tempos is as fast as .8 and as slow as 1.8.

A further point I think is worth making is to view the tempos, etc. displayed by elite swimmers with a degree of perspective and a clear-eyed sense of your own goals and abilities. It's interesting info to me that 25 y.o. highly trained elite athletes swim with tempos ranging from 75 to 87 or more. But as a 60 y.o. who in a good week is fortunate to squeeze in about 4 hours of swimming, I find a tempo closer to 60 much more sustainable - as well as one that allows me to compete at a level I find satisfying and rewarding.

Given that a sustainable tempo for me is not going to rise much above 60 - about one stroke per second -- the only place I can go for more speed is to figure out how to travel further during that second. The easiest (i.e. most sustainable) way to do that is via active streamlining.

evmo
May 13th, 2011, 05:21 PM
We never use the phrase 'catch up.' In fact, we have not even used the phrase 'front quadrant' in 12 or 13 years. Any coach who suggested that to you is giving their own input, not representing anything advocated by TI.

Terry, thanks for the clarifications. I'm glad to hear the catch-up stroke isn't advocated by TI. The coach does list himself as a "TI Teaching Professional," but based on your comments, I'll just chalk it up to an off-the-reservation opinion.


A TI Coach who has remained current, rather than use such a vague term, would give you a series of Tempo Trainer exercises to allow you to 'organically' optimize your stroke via direct experience.

That sounds like excellent advice - and indeed, I've found the Tempo Trainer to be a very useful tool. I just wish they didn't break so easily!


Having more arrows in your quiver allows more adaptation to conditions.

I'm also pleased to hear that "adaptation to conditions" (w/r/t stroke tempo) is part of your framework for Open Water. My impression of TI's position was based on an article you wrote in 2008, "The Open Water Stroke (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html)," in which you argue that, just as "longer, slower strokes" work better in LCM compared to SCY, that even longer, even slower strokes should work best in Open Water. Perhaps your view has evolved on this point? Or perhaps you only meant it to apply to neutral open water conditions, not rough water?

In any case, it sounds like we mostly agree on this. Thanks again - I think this has been a valuable thread.

evmo
May 13th, 2011, 07:09 PM
A further point I think is worth making is to view the tempos, etc. displayed by elite swimmers with a degree of perspective and a clear-eyed sense of your own goals and abilities. It's interesting info to me that 25 y.o. highly trained elite athletes swim with tempos ranging from 75 to 87 or more.

It's an important point. My thought process goes something like this:

If the world's best OW swimmers maintain higher stroke rates in a 10K than the best pool swimmers do in a 1500 - remarkable, given that the event is 6.7x the distance - is there a lesson for us mortals? For instance: If I'm a 65 SPM 1500 freestyler, is there value in learning to maintain 70 SPM for a 10K (with perhaps some loss in stroke length)? Perhaps it is worth exploring. My intuition about the "why" is that higher SRs are more adaptable to rough water, navigation, and other swimmers encroaching on your space. But possibly there is some other, unknown reason.

Coincidentally, someone just posted a video (http://www.olympic.org/swimming-marathon-10km-men) of the 2008 Olympic 10K in a different thread. Here's some quick n' dirty stroke rate data:



elapsed time swimmer stroke rate (per min)

start various 110+
2' Davies 88
32' Dyatchin 86
33' Gianniotis 100
40' Davies 94
1:28 Lurz 98
Davies 90
Dyatchin 83
1:39 Gianniotis 97
1:43 Davies 102
1:49 Davies 95
Van der Weijden 78
Lurz 102
1:51 Lurz 102
Davies 94
finish (1:52) Van der Weijden 87
Davies 95
Lurz 102

Before someone points out that the gold medalist (Maarten Van der Weijden) curiously seems to have a lower SR than his competitors, I should note that Maarten, at 6 ft 8 in, is also substantially taller than his competitors (implying a lower SR).

And here's for the women's Olympic 10K (http://www.olympic.org/swimming-marathon-10km-women):



Cassie Patten (bronze)
0:20 90
1:11 87
1:38 87

Keri-Anne Payne (silver)
0:10 94
0:20 88
0:30 89
1:11 89
1:38 89
finish 99

Larisa Ilchenko (gold)
0:02 88
finish 104


-----------------
www.freshwaterswimmer.com

E=H2O
May 14th, 2011, 05:47 PM
I'm currently an 18:08 miler (unrested). In college I was about 16:30.

This explains why you finished 2 1/2 hours ahead of me. The fastest I ever swam a 1500 m was 18:16 when I was 29. That was rested tapered and shaved. However, I could cover a mile in 16:30 right now if if I was walking.

evmo
May 14th, 2011, 05:54 PM
This explains why you finished 2 1/2 hours ahead of me.

Don't forget about the power plant, Bob. Beware the power plant!
:bolt:

E=H2O
May 14th, 2011, 06:08 PM
Don't forget about the power plant, Bob. Beware the power plant!
:bolt:

:rofl::rofl::rofl:

Actually, other than that 2 mile stretch I really enjoyed the swim. I never got bored. I just kept watching my older brother trying to figure out how to mix the Perpeteum and Cytomax, and toss me the 2 bottles at the end of the cord. He only hit me once!

KaizenSwimmer
May 15th, 2011, 06:43 AM
My impression of TI's position was based on an article you wrote in 2008, "The Open Water Stroke (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html)," in which you argue that, just as "longer, slower strokes" work better in LCM compared to SCY, that even longer, even slower strokes should work best in Open Water. Perhaps your view has evolved on this point? Or perhaps you only meant it to apply to neutral open water conditions, not rough water?

Having written that article, I'd like to make that thought clearer. In the article I cited a study and article by Jonty Skinner, done when he was performance science director for USA Swimming, trying to explain a phenomenon I first noticed in 1972. Dave Edgar of Tennessee had won the 50 and 100 Free at the NCAA and AAU Championships on many occasions and was very much the dominant short-course sprinter of the time, yet failed to qualify for the 100 Free on our Olympic team.
There were many other instances then and since of swimmers who were dominant in short course and far less successful in Long Course. Jonty did a in-depth video comparison of swimmers from a variety of eras who excelled at LC vs those who were far better at SC.
He found that, uniformly, those who could not sustain their speed in freestyle in LC used arm-dominant, high-turnover strokes. Those who were more successful in LC had strokes that were longer and hip-driven.
His explanation for this disparity was that high-rate strokes with high arm forces were superior at generating speed over relatively short distances, but were unsustainable over longer distances. The ratio of swimming to 'not swimming' (turns and pushoffs) in SC is about 3 to 1. In LC it rises to 8 to 1.

In Open Water that ratio rises to infinity. Where a 1650 swimmer might need to take 12 to 16 uninterrupted strokes, a 1.5k OW swimmer will need to take 1500 to 2000 uninterrupted strokes. Thus, I argued that sustainability becomes even more important than sheer velocity in open water.

I didn't write that your stroke should be 'even longer and even slower' in OW -- longer is simply unrealistic, given conditions. I wrote that cultivating the most leisurely stroke that works for you in any set of conditions is critical to OW success.

My larger point has consistently been that maintaining a stroke length that allows you a wider range of choices is a critical strategy. It's also an exceedingly rare skill, one that requires thoughtful, exacting, patient cultivation.

When you point out that Grant Hackett held a rate of .7 sec/stroke in setting the 1500 world record, I think you miss the point. It takes no special skill to stroke at that rate. I could certainly do that -- and indeed did stroke at that rate in high school and college,when I never managed to escape the metaphorical 'slow lane.'

Hackett broke the WR because he took 31 SPL at that rate, while others were taking 32 to 36 SPL to travel 50 meters. Swimming slower than him despite stroking at even higher rates.

Grant's most impressive skill is the same one that distinguishes Ous Mellouli today. (Assuming a 5-meter pushoff) Hackett managed to travel 1.45 meters (dividing 45m by 31 strokes) in that interval of .7 seconds. Which is an extraordinarily high level and rare skill (aided to some degree by his 6'6" height).

For that reason I always prioritize Stroke Length in my training. As I also noted in that article that means - besides working on Balance and Streamlining skills - making strategic choices in training. When the coach at Masters says "10 x 25 Hard," and virtually everyone else in the pool goes churning off at 18 to 20+ SPL, I opt to continue imprinting the stroke I feel will serve me best in a mile or 2-mile OW race, and limit myself to 15 strokes. I do try to swim as fast as I can in 15 strokes, but I religiously avoid imprinting arm-churn.

I'm willing to 'lose' the 25s in workout to be better prepared to win an OW race months later.

On the other hand, I do also work at developing the skill of holding Stroke Length while increasing tempo (at times as high as .8 sec/stroke) or 'trading' rate for strokes, in as stingy a manner as I can. In doing that I look for inflection points where my neural conditioning won't support more rate.

I.E. If I swim a series of repeats, gradually increasing tempo from say, 1.1 to 1.05 to 1.0 to .95 to .9 seconds/stroke I count strokes as I go, seeking my 'threshold of control.' If I add one stroke per length each time I increase rate until I reach .95 sec, I know that more rate produced more speed (the math is pretty simple - # of Tempo Trainer beeps X rate = time). If my SPL jumps by 2 strokes as I increase rate to .9, I know I've not gained speed. If it jumps by 3 strokes, I've lost speed. Neither is an effective choice. (As well I have to include in the calculation my sense of perceived effort and whether that change would be sustainable when taking 1800 to 12,000 uninterrupted strokes.)

In no way am I seeking to avoid rate. Rather I'm striving to find the highest rate at which I can sustain an economical stroke. And to use practice sets to patiently, systematically push that rate higher - very often in increments as small as .01 sec. But I need a strong base of efficiency that's resistant to breaking.

Training that way makes my efforts mathematically precise and 100% personalized. Doing traditional repeat sets ("20 x 100 on 1:30. Ready, go") is imprecise. At 60, I can't afford to spend my time on 'canned' training. In part because, since my mid-50s, my calf muscles cramp after about 120 pushoffs, limitiing me to about 3000 yards per practice. I have to make every lap count.

KaizenSwimmer
May 16th, 2011, 11:05 AM
And here's for the women's Olympic 10K (http://www.olympic.org/swimming-marathon-10km-women):

[code]
Cassie Patten (bronze)
0:20 90
1:11 87
1:38 87

Keri-Anne Payne (silver)
0:10 94
0:20 88
0:30 89
1:11 89
1:38 89
finish 99[/url]

Some beautiful video of Keri-Anne Payne YouTube - Keri-Anne Payne's top swimming tips: If there's too much sun. If the wind blows and blows..

I posted these comments about the video on the TI Discussion Forum (http://www.totalimmersion.net/index.php?option=com_jfusion&wrap=showthread.php%3Ft%3D2328).

>>Beautiful stuff. Keri-Anne would make a great model for anyone wanting to swim TI style, In particular:
Neutral head position with little of her cap above the surface.
Relaxed, compact (Marionette Arm) recovery
Clean, quiet (Mail Slot) entry.
Patient soft hands.
Streamlined relaxed 2-Beat Kick (toe-flick not leg-drive)

Also, her advice on how to minimize the effects of wind chop by a greater focus on body-lengthening (to reduce wave drag) is spot on. And I think her recognition of the right sort of advice to offer a mass audience - addressing regular folks, not elites like her -- is admirable.

Keri-Anne won the silver medal in the 10k OW in Beijing and the gold in the 2009 World Championships -- in a time of 2 hours, 1 minute, a pace of 1:12 per 100m maintained for two hours in open water. That is truly amazing swimming.>>

evmo
May 16th, 2011, 02:15 PM
Terry, thanks for the comments. Interesting stuff about your training methods; sounds like you make the most of your 3,000-yard workouts.

That said, the aim of my recent comments on this thread has been to try to understand: Why is it that elite open water swimmers race with higher SRs than elite pool distance swimmers, despite their main event being almost 7x as long? Again, please see the videos I linked to, and the stroke rate measurements from three different elite 10Ks (including the Olympics).

I think it's an interesting phenomenon. And it leads to further questions:

If the elites are doing it, does it follow that there may be advantages to swimming with a (relatively) high SR in open water?
If so, what are these advantages, specifically?
To what extent can the rest of us (as non-elite OW swimmers) learn from this?
You wrote earlier that "It's interesting info to me that 25 y.o. highly trained elite athletes swim with tempos ranging from 75 to 87 or more" - which implied that you were unaware of this phenomenon until now. You're the founder of a successful swim-teaching business and represent yourself as an expert on open water swimming. So I'm surprised you're not more interested in these questions. Don't they arouse your "passionate curiosity" (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1267)?


When you point out that Grant Hackett held a rate of .7 sec/stroke in setting the 1500 world record, I think you miss the point.
...
Hackett broke the WR because he took 31 SPL at that rate, while others were taking 32 to 36 SPL to travel 50 meters. Swimming slower than him despite stroking at even higher rates.

And when you compare Grant Hackett to other swimmers in his heat, you miss my point. I was comparing Hackett (a pool swimmer) to elite OW swimmers, and noting that his SR is substantially lower.


I didn't write that your stroke should be 'even longer and even slower' in OW.... I wrote that cultivating the most leisurely stroke that works for you in any set of conditions is critical to OW success.

It's true; you didn't write the exact words, "even longer and even slower" - but it was a not-unreasonable interpretation of your meaning. Here's what you wrote, specifically, in the article (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html): "LCM swimmers had longer, slower strokes" [than SCY swimmers]. Then, you said: "I instantly recognized that what was true for 50-meter pools would become hugely compelling in open water."

Also, I notice that the words "cultivating the most leisurely stroke that works for you in any set of conditions" do not appear anywhere in that article (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html) (or really, even the concept). You may have written more elsewhere, but the "Open Water Stroke" article is what I was reacting to.

I'd also add that the Olympic 10K was held in a man-made rowing basin. The conditions were about as neutral as they get in OWS. Yet still, the top women and men were humming along in the high-80s to mid-90s -- in the middle of a 2-hour race! So, a full discussion of the "Open Water Stroke" should probably account for not only conditions, but also the effect of navigation/sighting, drafting, race tactics, other swimmers nearby, etc.


Some beautiful video of Keri-Anne Payne YouTube - Keri-Anne Payne's top swimming tips (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHvmwrUdHEE&NR=1).
...
Keri-Anne would make a great model for anyone wanting to swim TI style

Keri-Anne does have beautiful technique. She's also swimming in a pool, at 50 SPM. In the Olympic 10K, the lowest SR I observed for her was 88 SPM. Check out the video (http://www.olympic.org/swimming-marathon-10km-women) I posted and tell me if you still think her stroke is TI-style. She seems to make a lot of un-TI-like splashes with her arm recovery. (To be clear, I think her OW stroke is great. I just don't think it's a TI stroke.)

I'd also point out that she was beaten in the last 100m by someone going 104 SPM.

On an unrelated note, I'm not sure I understand her tip about a longer stroke in windy conditions being "aerodynamic." I swim in windy conditions all the time in Lake Michigan, and honestly my "aerodynamics" had never occurred to me as an issue. Maybe if I had sails attached to my arms? The main issue with windy conditions is chop.

Cheers,
Evan

----
www.freshwaterswimmer.com

Munatones
May 18th, 2011, 10:20 AM
This is a fascinating discussion that I have 3 decades of statistics and observations on this topic. My interest was first sparked by Coach Siga Rose (nee Albrecht) when she was coaching open water swimmers in the 1970s and with Penny Dean who broke the world record in the English Channel with a high stroke turnover in 1978. Simply put, there are significant dynamic forces on the human body in open bodies of water - both positive (drafting effects) and negative (cross currents and surface chop). This means that the resultant propulsion is generally less than in the pool. If we look at underwater videos of amateur and pro open water swimmers, you can see their hands beginning their pull later (deeper) in their stroke and finishing their pull earlier in their stroke. Also, look at their kick and you will see their heels come out of the water higher and more often in the open water due to the surface chop, waves and swells. And in general their torsos generate more lateral motion in the open water than in a pool. This is due to the effects of sighting, slight navigational chances throughout the race, avoidance or initiation of physical contact with other competitors, and the rise and fall of the water in rough conditions. The videos, the photos and the data are all very fascinating and enlightening to consider and analyze. However, it is most telling when an athlete significantly changes their normal spm tempo. This can happen over time with a seriously committed athlete and coach or within an actual race. While people note Maarten van der Weijden's slower spm tempo, it is telling to see Maarten make his tactical moves DURING a race. At these critical points in a race, his turnover and kick really pick up. These subtle tactical moves are rarely captured on film, but they happen all the time at amateur and professional races. At the most recent Fran Crippen SafeSwim 10K race where dozens of pro marathon swimmers competed, Andrew Gemmell, the eventual winner, essentially won the race because of one critical 20-second portion of the nearly 2-hour race. Within a 20-second span, he went from 84 spm to 96 spm and surged into the lead, catching his world-class competitors by surprise. He went from 1.5 body lengths behind the winner to a 2-body lead that he held to the finish. This happens all the time. Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 made these moves at the masters and amateur level. Thomas Lurz of Germany makes these moves all the time at the pro level. And, Greta Andersen, a true heroine of the 1950s and 1960s, made similar moves when she defeated the top male marathon swimmers of her eras. You can see several videos of Greta's pro swims online where she is churning over quickly and kicking hard throughout her races. As a former 100-meter sprinter, Greta proved that motivated athletes can shift from being a pool sprinter to a marathon great. Keep up the great conversation.

rtodd
May 18th, 2011, 02:20 PM
Ous Mellouli made a simliar move in the 1500 at the Bejing Olympics during a commercial break where he went from a body length behind to a body length ahead. I have no idea if is stroke rate went up. Gotta love TV.

rtodd
May 18th, 2011, 03:03 PM
In general stroke rate and DPS is a very personal thing and there is no right or wrong. I think the most glaring example of this was with Janet Evans in the 800 and with Rebecca Adlington who took down her famous record.

I think stroke rate and DPS can be accurately defined for each swimmer in the pool, but I do think you need to vary it in OW to match the conditions. I find a higher stroke rate works in rougher water (that way I can survive loosing a breath every so often when submerged), and lower stroke rate on flat water, or sometimes I can match the stroke rate to the swells and get some benefit.

I have also noticed when drafting someone it is nice to match their stroke rate so as not to tangle arms. Like meshing of gear teeth. I think you need to be a bit flexible with OW stroke rate.

mj_mcgrath
May 18th, 2011, 03:25 PM
Interesting indeed. Here's a replay of a world class 100m race where the swimmer with the HIGHER stroke count wins:

YouTube - Cesar Cielo holds off Micahel Phelps for win - from Universal Sports

Cielo takes about 35 strokes on the second 50m while Phelps takes about 30. Worthy of note I think in how Phelps appears to increase his stroke rate and almost catches Cielo at the end. The distance god Ous Melluli is also in the race but not a factor as he also increases his stroke rate at the end.

What does one race prove? Cielo was faster that ONE day. Was he more efficient that Phelps? I don't know. He took more strokes but swimming is not the equivalent of chopping wood. Cielo's heart rate may have been higher and if it was, what does that prove exactly? Same for lactic acid measurements, if those were taken after the race.

Stroke length is a combination of many factors, some immutable, including
--body features such as height, weight, shape
--body ratios such as leg length vs torso length, arm wingspan vs.height, slow twitch vs. fast twitch muscle fibers, percentage of body fat vs. body muscle (i.e. buoyancy)
--swimming technique--minimizing drag, maximizing effective propulsion
--swimming ability
--strength and power
--swimming fitness
--age
--others I can't think of right now

Just based on those first 7 factors, I would use caution before drawing universal conclusions about stroke length. What does ring true is what others in this discussion have said about developing a range of stroke rates especially in open water. --mike

KaizenSwimmer
May 18th, 2011, 07:57 PM
You wrote earlier (http://forums.usms.org/showpost.php?p=243034&postcount=35) that "It's interesting info to me that 25 y.o. highly trained elite athletes swim with tempos ranging from 75 to 87 or more" - which implied that you were unaware of this phenomenon until now. You're the founder of a successful swim-teaching business and represent yourself as an expert on open water swimming. So I'm surprised you're not more interested in these questions. Don't they arouse your "passionate curiosity" (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1267)?


It's true; you didn't write the exact words, "even longer and even slower" - but it was a not-unreasonable interpretation of your meaning. Here's what you wrote, specifically, in the article (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html): "LCM swimmers had longer, slower strokes" [than SCY swimmers]. Then, you said: "I instantly recognized that what was true for 50-meter pools would become hugely compelling in open water."

Evmo, this is reaching a point of silliness. It is distinctly unkosher to make your own interpretation of something I write and then post it here, inferring that your interpretation represents my thoughts.

And your first quote is - again - an interpretation which you make for one obvious reason -- to cast what I wrote in a negative light.

Interesting info meant: It may be of interest if you're studying young, fit elites, but it has minimal application for my own swimming -- as a 60 y.o. -- and the coaching I do today -- of mostly middle-aged non-elite swimmers. I doubt anyone else drew the inference I was ignorant of it. In fact, Steve Munatones and I have discussed the stroke rates of elites fairly extensively. Unlike you, he was understanding and respectful of the reasons for my differing choices.

Since I first became aware of your existence a month ago - after someone alerted me to some snark (your own characterization) you posted on your blog about something I'd written, it's become apparent you feel it's urgent to 'debunk' what I advocate. Like previous TI Debunkers you also seem to have the impression these are just odd - even dangerous - notions that popped into my head.

What you're likely unaware of - since it occurred before you were born - is that I coached elite level swimmers in all events and distances -- including national champions in pool and open water distance swimming whose wake would have swamped you on your best day -- from the early 70s to the early 80s.

Since the late 80s, I've had experience which is more pertinent on this Forum: Coaching some 20,000 adults, most of whom wanted to swim distance and open water. Besides helping countless 'adult-onset' swimmers have a safe and satisfying triathlon swim, we've helped at least two dozen swimmers complete a successful English Channel crossing - including a few who had begun swimming barely two years earlier.

The impression you leave is that you're personally offended because I suggest approaches different from whatever you may be doing - as if it's an implicit criticism of your choices.

It's not. I'm sharing insights gained from a not-inconsiderable amount of direct experience which has worked out reasonably well and with a high degree of consistency for many people whose needs and goals may be different than your own.

Keep doing whatever you're doing. Post your workouts or thoughts to your heart's content. But if you don't have the sense of fairness to refrain from intentionally misconstruing my thoughts, let what I write speak for itself.

KaizenSwimmer
May 18th, 2011, 08:19 PM
While people note Maarten van der Weijden's slower spm tempo, it is telling to see Maarten make his tactical moves DURING a race. At these critical points in a race, his turnover and kick really pick up. [during] one critical 20-second portion of the nearly 2-hour race . . . he went from 84 spm to 96 spm and surged into the lead, catching his world-class competitors by surprise. He went from 1.5 body lengths behind the winner to a 2-body lead that he held to the finish.

The thing I've found most interesting about elite OW swimming - and which it seems American swimmers have become more savvy in the last 4-5 years -- is the extent to which races are decided by the most tactically cunning, rather than the fastest, swimmer. The fact that the most successful 10k elites spend 90% of the race jockeying for position, avoiding the more-taxing (and psychologically burdensome) responsibility of leading until the decisive sprint suggests to me that a critical skill is the ability to remain relaxed - in as many ways as possible - while swimming in the pack, while staying aware of where key competitors are.

I've long applied similar tactics myself, albeit at far lower rates and speeds - there's no such thing as a 20-meter burst in my racing arsenal. The fact that such tactics may be present for a tiny portion of those marathons that are also races is one of the reasons I've decided to focus for now mainly on 1- and 2-mile races where tactical-swimming opportunities abound. When swimming with a group or perhaps a rival or two in mid-race I survey - even analyze - their strokes. Whatever I see them doing, I strive to be more economical. Keep my recovery more compact, my arms more relaxed, my stroke more leisurely and catch more patient, my bodyline longer, my entries quieter, etc. As I do so, and observe them working harder to swim the same speed, it provides a welcome confidence that I'll be more capable of a strong finish should that be necessary or perhaps just pull away gradually over a longer distance. But not too soon, lest they grab a free ride.

And when swimmers are passing, I'm similarly analytical if I have a choice to draft one swimmer over another. If one has a more splashy, higher-turnover stroke and another is stroking more smoothly, I'll opt to draft the smoother swimmer, both because I expect they'll be able to sustain that faster pace longer, and because the water in their wake will be calmer.

But I enjoy equally the collegial/collaborative aspects. Two years ago while swimming Grimaldo's Mile at Coney Island, I found myself, at around 500m, tightly sandwiched between two other swimmers. We continued that way for another 1000m, one or another of us occasionally pulling ahead, only to be reeled in by the other two. We stayed in abreast, inches between us, until the final buoy and the turn toward the beach. That 1000m passed almost too quickly and I'd enjoyed it so much I was sorry the race had to end.

evmo
May 18th, 2011, 08:49 PM
Terry,

No offense intended. I respect - sincerely - your long history in the sport and the how your methods have brought the joy of swimming to many (I assume thousands, at this point).

That said, I think your ideas about open water swimming could use some revision - including (but not limited to) the "Open Water Stroke (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/The-Open-Water-Stroke.html)" article. For instance, I think data from elite races are relevant information, no matter what your age, talent, or speed. You, apparently, disagree.

Aside from that, I feel no overwhelming need to "debunk" TI - though some bad advice from a TI-certified coach (as described earlier)did frustrate me.


What you're likely unaware of - since it occurred before you were born - is that I coached elite level swimmers in all events and distances -- including national champions in pool and open water distance swimming whose wake would have swamped you on your best day

No doubt, they would have. Still, sort of overkill to say that, don't you think? You're a big company; I'm just some guy on an internet forum.

Who were these "national champions in open water distance swimming" by the way?

You take care now,
Evan

KaizenSwimmer
May 19th, 2011, 05:16 AM
I think your ideas about open water swimming could use some revision . . . You're a big company; I'm just some guy on an internet forum.

No I'm not a 'big company.' TI is a relatively small company that has outsize influence for only one reason -- our methods work for those who seek our help.

I'm a professional swimming coach, and have been for almost 40 years.

It seems you don't see the towering hubris in 'a guy on an internet forum' presuming to advise someone who was swimming OW races and coaching high level swimmers before your birth that his 'ideas could use some revision.'


Who were these "national champions in open water distance swimming" by the way?

National AAU 4-Mile champions in the early 80s . . . if you insist. You could look it up, as they say.

KaizenSwimmer
May 19th, 2011, 06:19 AM
After recognizing that my stroke is much longer than most OWS, I decided to poke around and see if stroke was different for OW as opposed to swimming in a pool.

I know that when I quicken my stroke rate and shorten my stroke I seem to fatigue much more quickly. However, this could be due to not pursuing this long enough to re-establish breathing patterns. (When I concentrate on my stroke, I tend to hold my breath without realizing it).

I do know that while my per 100 pace is slowly improving with more speed work in my work outs, it has dropped now where near what it used to be 20 years ago.

Srcoyote
I was curious if you now have any better idea what course YOU should pursue.
If your stroke is relatively long, that's good. If you fatigue when you try to speed it up, that's useful information.

Much advice proffered on this thread has focused on the rates - as high as 90 strokes per minute - used by elites in open water.

I would advise average swimmers to consider there are a couple dozen such people in the world. I have great doubt that the rest of us should necessarily take our cues from them.

Here's an analogy. Last year some 425,000 people finished a marathon run in the US. The average finishing time was nearly 4 hours. (This, by the way, is an hour slower than the average 35 years ago when 25,000 people finished a marathon - a reflection of people's evolving motivations.)

Of those 425,000 I would guess that a few dozen men finished in under 2:10 and a few dozen women in under 2:25.

Obviously the stride length and rate of a 2:06 marathoner will be radically different from those who run a 4:12 marathon. The 4:12 marathoner -- of whom there are 10s of 1000s, rather than 10s -- can do little but shake their head in admiration for the capacity of the elite athlete. But that athlete's rate and length has little direct relevance to them.

What has direct relevance to you, me and the vast majority of open water swimmers are:
1) Speed will be determined by how large a gap you create between the propulsive force you generate and the resistive force of the water. Generating more propulsive force is highly costly in the non-renewable resources of heartbeats and power. Reducing resistive force saves heartbeats and power and is therefore a more sustainable strategy.
2) Speed will also be determined by the mathematically exact formula V (Velocity) = SL (Stroke Length) x SR (Stroke Rate).
3) Today your nervous system is programmed to function optimally at a particular combination of SL and SR -- because you have 'wired in' that combination through countless hours of practice. The reason you fatigue when you try to increase SR is because your nervous system -- and therefore your stroke -- loses efficiency when you attempt combinations to which you are not adapted.

If you wish to swim faster next week, month or year, then you must practice in ways that adapt your nervous system -- and with it your metabolic system - to more challenging combinations of SL and SR.

While it's true as many have noted, that the highly variable conditions in open water will influence optimal choices in Rate and Length, if you're like most, the great majority of your practice time will be in the pool, so you need to use that time to best effect.

What I've focused on in my pool training is (1) to strongly imprint the most efficient possible stroke - so it's more resistant to breakdowns related to fatigue, higher rates and rougher water; and (2) to also wire in adaptability so when I need to make a change to my length and rate, my nervous system is already highly adapted to that different neural program.

I do that by (i) constant awareness of length and rate - I always count strokes and regularly use a Tempo Trainer; and (ii) planning my sets to maximize neural adaptability

You can see a video of how the stroke I've honed and imprinted in the pool has become highly resistant to breakdown in rough conditions here (http://www.youtube.com/tiswim#p/u/20/IQ-jaWKjHus).

And you can see an example - albeit in backstroke - of the kind of sets I use to increase adaptability to rate and length changes here (http://www.totalimmersion.net/index.php?option=com_jfusion&wrap=showthread.php%3Ft%3D2327).

evmo
May 19th, 2011, 01:08 PM
I'm a professional swimming coach, and have been for almost 40 years.
It seems you don't see the towering hubris in 'a guy on an internet forum' presuming to advise someone who was swimming OW races and coaching high level swimmers before your birth that his 'ideas could use some revision.'

So you're saying, what exactly? That you have nothing to learn from anyone except... other swim coaches? Or perhaps only other swim coaches who have been coaching for "almost 40 years"? Really? That's what these forums are for (among other things). To test assumptions - even those held by 60-year old swim coaches.

Your defensiveness speaks for itself.


Much advice proffered on this thread has focused on the rates - as high as 90 strokes per minute - used by elites in open water.
...
The 4:12 marathoner... can do little but shake their head in admiration for the capacity of the elite athlete. But that athlete's rate and length has little direct relevance to them.

Nobody has suggested that David try to swim 90 SPM. To continue your analogy: The 4:12 marathoner would obviously be foolish to try to match the stride rate of the 2:06 marathoner. So in that sense, the elite SR isn't "relevant" data. But what if we discovered that elite cross-country runners, across all distances, run with a quicker SR and a "looser" style than track runners? And moreover, we observe this difference only at the elite level - i.e., amateurs run with similar rate/style on both smooth and uneven surfaces.

Now, all of sudden, this is very relevant data. For the amateur runner, the question is not, "Should I match the stride rate of the elite runner?" The interesting question is: "Can I become a better cross-country runner by finding a slightly higher rate and looser style than what I usually practice on the track?"

Overall, I think the advice you just gave to David is quite valuable. I do, however, think there's an important truth that's not quite captured by your advice: Swimming in open bodies of water is fundamentally different than swimming in a pool - for more reasons than just "conditions." Steven Munatones did a great job describing some of those variables in his recent post. The variables of Open Water, it seems, tend to favor higher stroke rates. That's why guys like Thomas Lurz routinely beat guys like Ous Mellouli in open water races - even though Mellouli is about 30 seconds faster in a 1500m pool swim.

rtodd
May 19th, 2011, 07:55 PM
OK,

Let's debunk this high stroke rate mumbo jumbo for OW racing.

Took out my stop watch and DVD video collection from Beijing (I recorded all the races to study).

Here is Davies' stroke rate in the 1500m where I could accurately measure:

1st 50 (1.26)
2nd 50 (1.32)
550m (1.32)
700m (1.29)
800m (1.32)
1000m (1.24)
1250m (1.27)

Stroke rate in the 10K

57 min (1.42)
1:05 hr (1.43)
1:14 hr (1.42)
1:25 hr (1.38)
1:36 hr (1.37)
1:45 hr (1.24)
1:46 hr (1.26)
1:47 hr (1.29)

He made his move at 1:45 and managed to go under his pool tempo briefly for 200 yds or so to try and move away from the pack maybe around 500 to go. He was able to just go under his pool stroke rate for a minute or so and then slowly fell off. Even in the last 100 he was at his pool cadence of 1.29.

I have analyzed an elite swimmer and clearly demonstrated that stroke rate is reduced in OW swimming, not increased. Davies was out front in all my measurements. His strategy was to leed and push the pace and he still used a slower turnover. If higher turnover is better, why didn't he use it?

evmo
May 19th, 2011, 09:07 PM
Thanks Rob, this is great data!


If higher turnover is better, why didn't he use it?

Probably because the 10K is a much longer race than a 1500, and he's swimming at a slower pace. When looking only a single swimmer, wouldn't you expect this?

Let's step back for a moment.

There are a couple different questions we're asking here, with regard to whether higher SR's are "better" in Open Water.

First, are there group differences in the average tempos for elite OW swimmers vs. elite pool swimmers? In other words, are the average tempos in OW races higher than the average SRs in pool races?
Second, are there individual differences between OW tempos and pool tempos? Do individuals use higher tempos in OW, compared to the pool?

The data I presented earlier address the first question - group differences. And these data seem to indicate that SR's for elite OW swimmers as a group are higher than the SR's for elite pool distance swimmers (as a group). What I've been trying to understand (see the red-colored text in my post above) is: Why is that? Does open water (as a racing environment) favor those with naturally faster tempos?

The data you just presented address the second question: Are individual swimmers better off using a higher tempo in OW, compared to the pool. Davies is a great example because he excels at both. And the observation that he uses a slightly lower tempo in a 10K OW vs. a pool 1500m is important information. But I'm not sure it answers the question satisfactorily, for the reason stated above -- the 10K is a much longer race.

What is Davies' tempo in a 1500m OW race? Higher, lower, or the same as his pool tempo? And what happens to Davies' tempo when he encounters rough water? Or cold water?

I'm not in a position to answer these questions, but Steven Munatones probably has some ideas. My bet is that Davies (and others) would use a higher tempo in a 1500m OW race than a 1500m pool race. But I'm totally willing to be wrong about that.

E=H2O
May 19th, 2011, 09:56 PM
I have analyzed an elite swimmer and clearly demonstrated that stroke rate is reduced in OW swimming, not increased. Davies was out front in all my measurements. His strategy was to leed and push the pace and he still used a slower turnover. If higher turnover is better, why didn't he use it?

Great analysis, but it is based on the assumption that OW races are conducted in the near perfect conditions seen at the Olympics and doesn't address the issue I raised:

"However, what I do know (or believe, if you prefer) that a shorter stroke (i.e. higher SR) allows me to adjust my stroke to take advantage of the conditions - or at least not be dominated by them. If I have a low SPL and low SR then as I swim in rough water the wave, or waves if the the wind and deep swells are not identical in direction and period, will interfere with the rhythm of my stroke and cause me to lose momentum. If I switch to a higher SPL and higher SR this will minimize the negative effect of the waves. This is critical because it always requires less power to achieve a certain average speed if your speed is constant, than if you are constantly speeding up and slowing down. each stroke cycle."

evmo
May 20th, 2011, 12:15 AM
Here is Davies' stroke rate in the 1500m where I could accurately measure:

1st 50 (1.26) 95
2nd 50 (1.32) 91
550m (1.32) 91
700m (1.29) 93
800m (1.32) 91
1000m (1.24) 97
1250m (1.27) 94


(Note: I converted your stroke rate measurements into SPM format - see the bolded numbers above.)

Another thing I'd point out is: For a pool swimmer (especially a male pool swimmer), these are quite high SR's for a 1500. In fact, I believe Davies is known for his high tempo.

One wonders: Does this partially explain why he has been successful crossing over from the pool to OW?

srcoyote
May 20th, 2011, 09:02 AM
"However, what I do know (or believe, if you prefer) that a shorter stroke (i.e. higher SR) allows me to adjust my stroke to take advantage of the conditions - or at least not be dominated by them. If I have a low SPL and low SR then as I swim in rough water the wave, or waves if the the wind and deep swells are not identical in direction and period, will interfere with the rhythm of my stroke and cause me to lose momentum. If I switch to a higher SPL and higher SR this will minimize the negative effect of the waves. This is critical because it always requires less power to achieve a certain average speed if your speed is constant, than if you are constantly speeding up and slowing down. each stroke cycle."

I started this thread after attempting some research to find out why my pacing for distance swimming wasn't improving signficantly despite my training efforts over the last couple of years. I thought there might be a key in stroke rate. When I saw the video I posted at the beginning of the thread, I marvelled how someone could sustain that stroke for 10K when I can't sustain that stroke rate for 200 yards even though I can swim my stroke for 10K.

I also noted the contrasting styles of the open water swimmers and the pool swimmers in the video. Admittedly, they were hand selected by the video maker to make his point, but his observations also bear out in many events that I've witnessed. I further noted that my worst performances in open water swims have come in rough conditions or against the current -- not just poor times, but poor performance relative to other swimmers who compete in many of the same races.

I have come to the following conclusions:

1. My breathing needs fixed more than anything -- I have become conscious that on over half my breaths, I am taking air in little further than my mouth. Think of the first time smoker who doesn't really inhale, but just sucks smoke into his mouth. This type of very shallow breathing, I think, means I am fatiguing more quickly. I never developed good breathing patterns growing up because my successes were all at the 100 yard level. What teenager really needs to breathe on a 100? I'm using some drills Chaos shared earlier in the thread to work on my breathing using a vareity rhythms.

2. I need to reconsider my training schedule -- With work and kids, I am able to get in the water 5-6 times per week for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes which means I'm only getting in a little over 20K yards per week. I need to mix in some longer workouts as I can.

3. I want to develop a shorter, choppier stroke as a secondary stroke to use in adverse conditions -- E=H2O makes a great point about the video demonstrating the maintenance of forward momentum being key to good performance in rough conditions. My stroke has been effective in smooth water and allows me to last longer than many people in better physical condition than I, but the glide is long enough that adverse conditions mean that every stroke is re-starting forward motion rather than maintaining it.

mj_mcgrath
May 20th, 2011, 09:14 AM
One hypothesis (as stated by several posters) for higher SR in OW: is it more difficult to maintain a constant speed? In a forum discussion relating percision testing by a company that claims:

"better swimmers have a smaller max/min variation in velocity than swimmers that are slower, and that might be obvious. However, many slower swimmers we have tested can generate similar peak velocity values, but their max/minimum velocity difference is much greater. In addition, that difference between swimmers can be very small when looking at one stroke cycle. But during a race where swimmers are using stroke rates between 50 and 60 stroke cycles per minute, that small difference becomes cumulative, and can define from a swimming perspective differences in performance." [More of a difference at higher 80-90 stroke rates?]

Here is the full discussion:

http://www.usms.org/forums/showthread.php?t=17100&highlight=sensors&page=5

E=H2O
May 20th, 2011, 12:58 PM
"better swimmers have a smaller max/min variation in velocity than swimmers that are slower

And this is the key. To measure the amount of drag on an object in a fluid over time (or distance) you can not simply take the distance and divide it by the time. That works only when there are no drag forces involved. If you divide the distance by the time you do get an average speed but that is a different thing

Specifically, drag in a fluid is proportional to the square of the velocity and, more importantly, the power needed to push an object through a fluid increases as the cube of the velocity. Thus even small fluctuations in speed can significantly increase the amount of power needed to cover a specific distance.

Take 2 swimmers who swim a length of the pool: one holds a constant speed, while the other speeds up and slows down. If they both reach the other end of the pool at the same time, the one with the fluctuations in speed had to generate substantially more power than the swimmer who maintained a steady speed. We all know this from our own experience. We also know that any reduction in drag forces on the body reduces the power requirements necessary to maintain a constant speed.

However, an analysis of the physics involves shows that simply gliding in a non-propulsive phase of your stroke only increases the total amount of power you need to maintain an average speed. From a pure layman's point of view, it appears that to maintain a specific speed and lower your stroke rate, you must do one or both of the following.

First, you must have a strong enough kick to maintain a propulsive force during your glide, sufficient to maintain a constant speed. If your glide position is more hydrodynamical efficient, then the total amount of propulsive force required may be less, but if your arms are not generating the force during the glide then the legs must. (10 X 100 yd kick on the minute anyone?) Simply gliding in a streamlined position will only increase your total power requirements over time due to the relationship of speed to power as noted above.

In the alternative, you can improve your streamlining during the entire time you are swimming, but you must continue to apply a constant force. Improving streamlining during the entire stroke cycle similarly lowers the total amount of power required to maintain a constant speed. Once again, simply gliding will only hurt you.

One thing that I might add, is that the analysis of a deformable body (a swimmer) in a fluid is complex, and when you ignore the physiological issues that come in play, any such analysis is an oversimplification and subject to scrutiny. So which of the 2 options (kick more while gliding or better streamlining while swimming) require less power and presumably less energy of the swimmer? This is an entirely different question that requires a further analysis of the physiology of a swimmer, which I believe is more complex than the physics involved.

srcoyote
May 20th, 2011, 04:16 PM
One thing that I might add, is that the analysis of a deformable body (a swimmer) in a fluid is complex, and when you ignore the physiological issues that come in play, any such analysis is an oversimplification and subject to scrutiny. So which of the 2 options (kick more while gliding or better streamlining while swimming) require less power and presumably less energy of the swimmer? This is an entirely different question that requires a further analysis of the physiology of a swimmer, which I believe is more complex than the physics involved.

Here's the rub, and why I had never considered increasing stroke rate as a means of increasing my long distance pace. Both stroke cycles and kick cycles have physics associated with torque and angular forces that are not consistent with forward movement. For example, lifting my arm out of the water on recovery is a wasted movement with forces against gravity and drag. I guessed that the benefits of maintaining forward momentum against drag forces were not equal to the effects of expending more energy in moving all those moment arms in more cycles. My guess seems to be supported when I keep my SPL consistent but increase my SR.

If I swim 100 yards at 15 SPL smoothly at 1:30 per 100, I can sustain this pace for several thousand meters. What fatigues first eventually is my shoulders, but not until I've swum at least 5K. Also, I find I can't swim much slower than 1:35 per 100 without my stroke disintegrating.

My attempts to get faster merely had me increasing my stroke rate while holding SPL constant. So I was swimming 15 SPL at 1:25 per 100. Doing so actually increases the amount of force necessary per stroke to increase velocity (acceleration against the deceleration of drag). Unfortunately, I can only seem to sustain that pace for about 800 yards. Both my shoulders turn to rubber, and I cross into anaerobic swimming within a couple hundred yards.

What it appears some swimmers are doing is sacrificing some of the force per stroke (sliding the catch a bit?) resulting in a higher SR that has an accompanying increase in SPL. We are surmising the payoff is the maintenance of forward momentum. If forward momentum is valuable in a smooth pool with primarily drag as a resistance, it is even much more valuable in open water with cross our counter forces in the forms of waves and tidal push.

What I need to do is find a way that increases velocity without substantially increasing effort. A higher SR with less force per stroke may be that solution.

couldbebetterfly
May 20th, 2011, 11:56 PM
What I need to do is find a way that increases velocity without substantially increasing effort.

If you do find it - please let us all in on the secret........or patent it, sell it and make millions:D

E=H2O
May 21st, 2011, 12:08 AM
What I need to do is find a way that increases velocity without substantially increasing effort. A higher SR with less force per stroke may be that solution.

Take a look at this. It requires a careful read, but it might help.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673549

KaizenSwimmer
May 23rd, 2011, 04:03 AM
even small fluctuations in speed can significantly increase the amount of power needed to cover a specific distance.

Take 2 swimmers who swim a length of the pool: one holds a constant speed, while the other speeds up and slows down. If they both reach the other end of the pool at the same time, the one with the fluctuations in speed had to generate substantially more power than the swimmer who maintained a steady speed. . . . simply gliding in a non-propulsive phase of your stroke only increases the total amount of power you need to maintain an average speed.

First, you must have a strong enough kick to maintain a propulsive force during your glide, sufficient to maintain a constant speed. If your glide position is more hydrodynamical efficient, then the total amount of propulsive force required may be less, but if your arms are not generating the force during the glide then the legs must. (10 X 100 yd kick on the minute anyone?) Simply gliding in a streamlined position will only increase your total power requirements over time due to the relationship of speed to power as noted above.

In the alternative, you can improve your streamlining during the entire time you are swimming, but you must continue to apply a constant force. Improving streamlining during the entire stroke cycle similarly lowers the total amount of power required to maintain a constant speed. Once again, simply gliding will only hurt you.

The idea to focus on is reducing drag - not gliding. I've never heard anyone make a serious suggestion that gliding is a good strategy so including it in discussion takes us off-topic.

But when you note that reducing fluctuations in speed reduces the energy and power requirements of maintaining that speed, then you introduce an idea that has unquestionable merit and universal value. (And by fluctuations in speed I should clarify that I - and I assume you - mean within each stroke cycle.

When biomechanists evaluate stroke efficiency one of the common things they do is connect a swimmer to a velocity gauge, usually via a fishing line, and track velocity fluctuations, while shooting underwater video. For analysis they overlay the velocity curve to the video to observe in what parts of the stroke the curve rises and falls - and by how much.

The more gentle those curves the better. Steeper lines mean higher power requirement.

How does that relate to Stroke Rate and Length? If you believe there are only two ways to minimize fluctuations in speed - a higher stroke rate or a stronger kick.

I've had the test performed on my stroke, by Steve Munatones, in March 2010. On the same day he was testing another swimmer - a Marathon Hall of Famer. My curves were much gentler, although I think my speed was also much lower. I was aiming to maximize flow not speed in that swim.

What's noteworthy though is that the other swimmer was stroking at a much higher rate - possibly 40 to 50 percent higher - and kicking much harder.

I was focused on keeping my bodyline long, minimizing wavemaking, using my extending arm to 'separate water molecules' and focusing far more on drag avoidance than propulsion with my kick. Which is precisely what I focus on while racing -- in a wide range of water conditions.

On that day, Steve's test documented the extent to which 'sustainable speed strategies' minimize power requirement and energy cost by maximizing the maintenance of momentum during the non-propulsive phases that occur in everyone's stroke.

This is why I believe that talking about some arbitrary ideal in SR is misguided. Simply because an elite OW swimmer has been observed to stroke at 80 to 90 strokes per minute doesn't infer anything conclusive for other swimmers who may not match an elite's skill or fitness profile.

On the other hand, what is absolutely beyond dispute is that if you take YOUR stroke and improve its streamlining qualities, you'll be able to swim the same speed with less effort -- and thus be able to maintain it longer.

Simply, heedlessly, stroking faster is -- for the vast majority of non-elite swimmers -- virtually certain to increase drag, and therefore the energy cost of swimming a given speed.

How did I learn this? From having shot and analyzed video of 20,000+ non-elite swimmers over the past 22 years.

KaizenSwimmer
May 23rd, 2011, 04:16 AM
What I need to do is find a way that increases velocity without substantially increasing effort.

Always look first to drag reduction. E.G. When swimming 1:30/100 at 15SPL, what happens if you focus on:
1) swimming more quietly
2) eliminating bubbles
3) trying to reduce wavemaking

Also, test your ability to do sets such as the one I posted here.

In this set, I maintained SPL (i.e. Stroke Length) pretty constant while increasing speed (i.e. Stroke Rate) over a set of increasing-distance repeats. Increasing Stroke Rate is a strategy to consider - only if you efficiently convert Rate into Pace, as I did in this set.

evmo
May 23rd, 2011, 09:51 AM
This is why I believe that talking about some arbitrary ideal in SR is misguided. Simply because an elite OW swimmer has been observed to stroke at 80 to 90 strokes per minute doesn't infer anything conclusive for other swimmers who may not match an elite's skill or fitness profile.

Who is talking about some "arbitrary ideal" of SR? The issue under discussion is relative stroke rates between open water and the pool.


I've had the test performed on my stroke, by Steve Munatones, in March 2010. On the same day he was testing another swimmer - a Marathon Hall of Famer.
...
What's noteworthy though is that the other swimmer was stroking at a much higher rate - possibly 40 to 50 percent higher - and kicking much harder.

That's noteworthy, for sure - but probably not for the reason you intended.

E=H2O
May 23rd, 2011, 02:19 PM
The idea to focus on is reducing drag - not gliding. I've never heard anyone make a serious suggestion that gliding is a good strategy so including it in discussion takes us off-topic.

There are a number of definitions of the word glide. I was using it in the way it is commonly understood. That being: to move forward as a result of potential/stored energy, without a further application of force. The potential energy can be in the form an objects height over the ground in a gravitational field such as the earth (the plane glided to the ground) , or in the form of linear momentum as in swimming or iceskating.

Anytime there is no propulsive force being applied, you are gliding. Assuming for the sake of argument that we can disregard the propulsive power of your kick (which I believe is consistent with your thoughts on this matter), then whenever a swimmer is not applying a propulsive arm force he is gliding. Merely improving your streamlining does not make you glide faster at the beginning, but it does reduce the rate of decline of your speed over time. However, it is gliding nevertheless and you will slow down.

Gliding in swimming does not have to be for a long time, but there have been some in the swimming world that have advocated certain stroke mechanics which result in periods of gliding. When I read your book a couple of years ago something stood out so much that I marked it.

“The whole point, in fact, is to put off pulling with the extended hand until the other one is just about to reenter the water and take its place in front of your head.” p.92

If you are not replacing the lost propulsive force with kicking while you are ‘putting off pulling with your extended hand’, then you are, by definition, gliding. That is why I included it in my analysis. But if you think it is off topic, so be it. It just seems to me that to achieve a low SPL you advocate certain stroke mechanics which result in adding glide to a swimmers stroke. And from a purely physics analysis, increases the amount of power required to be produced by the swimmer over any given distance.



How does that relate to Stroke Rate and Length? If you believe there are only two ways to minimize fluctuations in speed - a higher stroke rate or a stronger kick.

Actually that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that to maintain a constant speed the swimmer must have a constant Net Propulsive Force. (Net Propulsive Force) = (Total Propulsive Force) - (Force of Drag). To reach a certain speed a swimmer must have a positive Net Propulsive Force. Once he reaches a certain speed, to maintain it he must have a Net Propulsive Force equal to zero.

What is applicable to the discussion of pool vs OW is that you must maintain a Net propulsive Force equal to zero throughout your stroke cycle, and what is being suggested, is that this is easier to do with a higher stroke rate in rough water. (I refer you back to my earlier post).



I was focused on keeping my bodyline long, minimizing wavemaking, using my extending arm to 'separate water molecules' and focusing far more on drag avoidance than propulsion with my kick. Which is precisely what I focus on while racing -- in a wide range of water conditions.

Great! And I think the operative words here are “focusing far more on”. As an athlete with decades of experience, your body already knows how to apply force without you having to stay consciously focused on it. Your conscious efforts are focused more on reducing drag which I totally agree with.


This is why I believe that talking about some arbitrary ideal in SR is misguided.

I agree with you on this and with the fact that talking about an ideal SPL number is equally misguided. I do not think you advocate that, but there are others who believe that there is certain a SPL number that all swimmers should achieve. Unfortunately, my observation is that there are quite a few triathletes who take what you are teaching, misinterpret it, and conclude that pursuit of a specific SPL is the Holy Grail of swimming faster.



On the other hand, what is absolutely beyond dispute is that if you take YOUR stroke and improve its streamlining qualities, you'll be able to swim the same speed with less effort -- and thus be able to maintain it longer.


Absolutely.


Simply, heedlessly, stroking faster is -- for the vast majority of non-elite swimmers -- virtually certain to increase drag, and therefore the energy cost of swimming a given speed.


Agreed


How did I learn this?

Frankly, where and how you learn something is irrelevant. The thing that matters is, if it is true or not.

KaizenSwimmer
May 24th, 2011, 05:41 PM
Frankly, where and how you learn something is irrelevant. The thing that matters is, if it is true or not.

The point I was making is that a sample size of N = 10,000 is more likely to yield widely-applicable principles than a sample size of N=1. Or one of N=25-50 (the number of people in the world capable of remaining efficient in challenging conditions at SR of 80+ - and with the metabolic capacity to sustain it.)

As for the word 'glide' - and countless other words and phrases, I've found it important to be as precise as possible when writing - as opposed to showing.

When I use the term glide I mean all stroking movements cease. Usually with one arm forward and the other back. People sometimes do this in pursuit of more Stroke Length. Not a good practice -- and the reason I questioned introducing the concept of gliding.
Pausing the lead hand, or being very patient about cultivating the catch, isn't gliding so long as the other hand is coming forward in recovery.

Because wave drag (your energy that's diverted to making waves or turbulence) is the most significant form of drag - and the simplest way to reduce wave drag is to keep your 'vessel' longer - I nearly always focus on making my stroke calmer and more patient when the water becomes rougher. In dozens of races I've found myself passing people who are stroking faster, when the water gets more choppy. Video example here. http://tinyurl.com/4x9aamv
Are there exceptions? Yes. I've found that in the shortest wave frequencies, and some irregular frequencies I manage better by increasing rate. But I always want that to be a considered choice, effectively applied. Which -- at least for me -- has never come naturally. I've had to do patient and thoughtful practice to gain neural adaptability.

KaizenSwimmer
May 24th, 2011, 05:58 PM
My practices put development and imprinting of Stroke Length first, because (1) acquisition and maintenance of Stroke Length is an exacting skill and (2) because swimming speed is more closely related to Length than to any other factor.

Stroke Rate is also important but my experience personally and with a large number of adult swimmers is that it's subordinate and supplementary to Length. I think both need to be developed 'organically.' What Length are YOU capable of today? How can you increase or reinforce that capacity in the next hour? And at that Length, what Rates can YOU sustain without sacrificing excess efficiency, or spending too many heartbeats. How can you increase or reinforce that capacity in the next hour?

The method I've developed for doing so is based on establishing Length, then practice 'trading' a bit of Length for a bit of Rate in small, measured doses. I do this in practice with two kinds of sets:
1) Rate is implicit. These are timed swims in which I count strokes. Any change in pace or time, if SPL remains constant, implies a change in rate.
2) Rate is explicit. (Time is implicit.) These are (usually) untimed swims in which I set rate with the aid of a Tempo Trainer, and count strokes. Any increase in stroke count means I've swum slower. Any savings in stroke count means I've swum faster. So naturally I strive to keep SPL as low as possible at that rate.

I've posted examples of pool practices designed to prepare for open water races here.

My last two practices were Implicit Rate examples.
Today I did two forms of descending sets
1) On the odd rounds descend without increasing stroke count.
This requires increasing Stroke Rate while keeping Stroke Length constant. In fact I don't try to increase Stroke Rate. Rather I focus on doing a variety of things that combine to propel me faster - more attention to holding the water, a bit more precision in catch, small increases in hip drive, etc.
2) On the even rounds, descend by increasing stroke count.

Both exercises are useful in wiring my nervous system with skills that I believe help me swim effectively in OW races. Because there's no way of monitoring Stroke Length - and because wind and chop can make that difficult - I try to practice in ways calculated to create durable efficiency habits.

But though I think such sets put more arrows in my quiver for responding to a variety of situations, my stronger motivation for these -- and all the sets I do -- is to encourage, even demand, keen focus. It's good for a 60 y.o. brain. It also creates Flow States. In the end, it's my addiction to Flow States, more than competitive urges, that keeps me coming back to the pool.

mj_mcgrath
May 25th, 2011, 12:35 PM
What I need to do is find a way that increases velocity without substantially increasing effort. A higher SR with less force per stroke may be that solution.

You could try this test to find your optimum stroke rate/stroke length:

http://www.swimsmooth.com/ramptest.html

--mjm

E=H2O
May 25th, 2011, 01:41 PM
The point I was making is that a sample size of N = 10,000 is more likely to yield widely-applicable principles than a sample size of N=1. Or one of N=25-50 (the number of people in the world capable of remaining efficient in challenging conditions at SR of 80+ - and with the metabolic capacity to sustain it.)

I understand what you intended now. But of course, it just establishes that if you have a validly selected random sample, where you observe objectively verifiable data, the conclusions you reach are more probably valid than a similarly selected and tested, but smaller sample. (That's assuming I remember my statistics correctly, which has a very high level of uncertainty)


As for the word 'glide' - and countless other words and phrases, I've found it important to be as precise as possible when writing - as opposed to showing.

When I use the term glide I mean all stroking movements cease. Usually with one arm forward and the other back. People sometimes do this in pursuit of more Stroke Length. Not a good practice -- and the reason I questioned introducing the concept of gliding.
Pausing the lead hand, or being very patient about cultivating the catch, isn't gliding so long as the other hand is coming forward in recovery.

I have never seen the word “glide” used as you have defined it. You might want to check on that or at least make sure you include your definition of the word in your discussions.


In dozens of races I've found myself passing people who are stroking faster, when the water gets more choppy. Video example here. http://tinyurl.com/4x9aamv

Yes I’ve seen this video before. Frankly I think it’s your goggles that make you faster. :-) Seriously though, my first thought when I saw that was that you had just caught and passed either a heat in front of yours, or just the nuts that went out too fast. I think what stands out the most though, is not your stroke rate so much as you excellent head position in comparison to the other swimmers around you..

E=H2O
May 25th, 2011, 01:53 PM
My practices put development and imprinting of Stroke Length first, because (1) acquisition and maintenance of Stroke Length is an exacting skill

I can’t agree with you more on this.


(2) because swimming speed is more closely related to Length than to any other factor.

I think this is where I’d need to see the data. If what you are saying that at any given level of swimming, a swimmer's speed is more closely related to Length than to any other factor, than I might be on board on that one. Again, assuming we are only talking about in a pool or calm body of water.


I think both [SR & SPL] need to be developed 'organically.' What Length are YOU capable of today? How can you increase or reinforce that capacity in the next hour? And at that Length, what Rates can YOU sustain without sacrificing excess efficiency, or spending too many heartbeats. How can you increase or reinforce that capacity in the next hour?

I agree


The method I've developed for doing so is based on establishing Length, then practice 'trading' a bit of Length for a bit of Rate in small, measured doses. I do this in practice with two kinds of sets:
1) Rate is implicit. These are timed swims in which I count strokes. Any change in pace or time, if SPL remains constant, implies a change in rate.
2) Rate is explicit. (Time is implicit.) These are (usually) untimed swims in which I set rate with the aid of a Tempo Trainer, and count strokes. Any increase in stroke count means I've swum slower. Any savings in stroke count means I've swum faster. So naturally I strive to keep SPL as low as possible at that rate.

I've posted examples of pool practices designed to prepare for open water races here (http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=243616#post243616).

My last two practices were Implicit Rate examples.
Today I did two forms of descending sets
1) On the odd rounds descend without increasing stroke count.
This requires increasing Stroke Rate while keeping Stroke Length constant. In fact I don't try to increase Stroke Rate. Rather I focus on doing a variety of things that combine to propel me faster - more attention to holding the water, a bit more precision in catch, small increases in hip drive, etc.
2) On the even rounds, descend by increasing stroke count.

Both exercises are useful in wiring my nervous system with skills that I believe help me swim effectively in OW races. Because there's no way of monitoring Stroke Length - and because wind and chop can make that difficult - I try to practice in ways calculated to create durable efficiency habits.

But though I think such sets put more arrows in my quiver for responding to a variety of situations, my stronger motivation for these -- and all the sets I do -- is to encourage, even demand, keen focus. It's good for a 60 y.o. brain. It also creates Flow States. In the end, it's my addiction to Flow States, more than competitive urges, that keeps me coming back to the pool.

I think this is an interesting and helpful discussion (although I did not examine you example pool practices)

srcoyote
May 26th, 2011, 09:05 AM
Take a look at this. It requires a careful read, but it might help.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673549

I knew I shouldn't have avoided biochemistry. I was unsure. Is my takeaway that the key is that through the establishment of motor patterns at a higher stroke rate through repition, my efficiency will follow? Or is it that I am a mutant zebrafish and my deficits cannot be traced to my biochemistry?:)

srcoyote
May 26th, 2011, 09:22 AM
I've posted examples of pool practices designed to prepare for open water races here (http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=243616#post243616).


I did look at your pool practices, and here is my challenge which is why I started this thread in the first place: The two workouts you posted would produce very different results for me.

I would find it a good workout, but not too challenging to complete the descending sets of 125's at the intervals and pace times you posted. Your last set is at about a 1:20 per 100 pace with 20 seconds rest between each 125. This I can do.

But I would not be able to complete the ladder with the same pace times you posted. Swimming a 1:28 per 100 pace is sustainable for me, but I can't sustain a 1:23 pace for 1000 yards.

I am looking at my stroke efficiency more closely. I mixed in some LC workouts last week. I found that my per 100 yard SC pace didn't convert as well to a 100m LC pace. I am learning I have fast powerful turns that expend a lot of energy which explains why I could swim a :50 100 in high school but never broke 5 minutes in the 500.

Steven Munatones
May 26th, 2011, 09:24 AM
I have also tested Olympic water polo players who are often fairly fast swimmers with generally a high turnover and shorter strokes and who are also often coincidently excellent open water swimmers. Their ability to sight efficiently comes from their years of head-up swimming practice, their ability to hold a streamlined position in various conditions (including during sighting) and their power generation that comes from the middle third of their stroke. Based on my observations and testing, I believe the key factors in going faster in dynamic bodies of water are to focus on the middle third of the stroke whether you swim naturally at a 45 spm, 60 spm, 75 spm or 90 spm pace. I would love to do joint objective testing with the individuals on this thread and either prove my beliefs wrong or right or, most probably, somewhere in the middle.

chaos
May 27th, 2011, 03:51 PM
I have also tested Olympic water polo players who are often fairly fast swimmers with generally a high turnover and shorter strokes and who are also often coincidently excellent open water swimmers. Their ability to sight efficiently comes from their years of head-up swimming practice, their ability to hold a streamlined position in various conditions (including during sighting) and their power generation that comes from the middle third of their stroke. Based on my observations and testing, I believe the key factors in going faster in dynamic bodies of water are to focus on the middle third of the stroke whether you swim naturally at a 45 spm, 60 spm, 75 spm or 90 spm pace. I would love to do joint objective testing with the individuals on this thread and either prove my beliefs wrong or right or, most probably, somewhere in the middle.

steve,
have you ever tested swimmers in a wave pool? i happen to know where there is a 300' long one in hoboken, nj. it is an engineering school, so they test things like hull shape, and aqua turbine models, etc. i would love to go for a swim in there.

KaizenSwimmer
May 27th, 2011, 04:05 PM
Your last set is at about a 1:20 per 100 pace with 20 seconds rest between each 125. This I can do.

But I would not be able to complete the ladder with the same pace times you posted. Swimming a 1:28 per 100 pace is sustainable for me, but I can't sustain a 1:23 pace for 1000 yards.

I am looking at my stroke efficiency more closely. I mixed in some LC workouts last week. I found that my per 100 yard SC pace didn't convert as well to a 100m LC pace. I am learning I have fast powerful turns that expend a lot of energy which explains why I could swim a :50 100 in high school but never broke 5 minutes in the 500.

Our HS times are far apart. I swam 1965-68 on a pretty undistinguished Catholic HS team in the metro NY area. I finally broke 1:00 for 100 yds, going 59.6, as a senior. Not surprisingly they put me in distance events, where I went 2:13 for 200 and 4:52 or so for 400 in 1968. I don't think the 500 became part of the HS program until about 1970.

I've always been a relatively 'slow' swimmer, but did find - when I began swimming OW races in 1973 - that I was more naturally adept at OW. I've always been able to compete in OW with people who are far faster than me in the pool.

Once I realized that OW was my metier I began to train in a way I felt would maximize my success there - even to the point of being willing to compromise pool speed and results to more strongly encode habits that I felt would be advantageous in OW.

For me that has meant a keen focus on economy and sustainability over sheer velocity and on developing a well-honed sense of pace. The 200-400-600-800-1000 set is an example of both. Many swimmers my age can swim markedly faster repeats than me. But I think few - possibly none - could swim a set like that - steadily increasing pace, over steadily increasing distance, while holding SPL relatively steady. I feel as if tasks like that are particularly good at converting pool training into open water preparedness.

But as I said, that's only the second reason I do them. The first is that the combination of rhythmic aerobic movement with demanding targeted focus creates transcendent experiences.

Herb
May 27th, 2011, 09:56 PM
Coyote, this was a Big Time Post. Someone should get one of the Swim Smooth guys over here to duke it out.

evmo
June 6th, 2012, 09:44 AM
Anybody remember this great thread? I just read something that reminded me of it.

A guest post on Loneswimmer.com by Chris Bryan, an internationally-elite open-water swimmer from Ireland.

http://loneswimmer.com/2012/06/06/guest-article-chris-bryan-irish-international-10k-swimmer

Here's the money quote:

"A higher and more relaxed stroke is essential for the open water. In the pool stroke length is of huge importance for swimming fast and count strokes per length cannot be under estimated, for open water the focus on training a higher rhythmic and comfortable stroke rate often out-weighs the need for stroke length based on the constant changing environment of open water."