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View Full Version : Just set a 1650 Personal Best, but with a pull buoy?



Gary P
March 15th, 2018, 01:29 PM
I've been aiming to achieve an NQT for the 1650 this season (20:33). Came up short the first time I raced in in January @ 20:53. Next race, early March, I went out a bit faster, but blew up on the back half and ended up going 20:59. Gonna take one more crack at it the last weekend before the Spring Nationals entry deadline.

Today I was planning to do a fly workout at my normal late-lunch afternoon swim, but then I got a text from my co-worker that he was going to have to go home early, and that I should go to the pool this morning if I wanted to swim. I did so, but I'd already done 30 minutes on the bike trainer earlier in the morning so my legs were a little tired. I didn't have a lot of time, either, so I decided to just jump in cold and do a 1650 TT with a pull buoy (no paddles).

I started watching the clock around the 400 mark, and was holding right around 1:16/100. I had to gradually increase the intensity, but I was able to hold that pace for the next 1000. When I got to the 1400 mark, it dawned on me that if I pushed the last 250 a bit, I might actually finish with a personal best. I did push, and I ended up going 20:51....with no block start, and no ability to 6-beat kick the last 50. So, I was simultaneously happy to go a personal best, but also perturbed that I was faster with a pull buoy than without.

This certainly wouldn't be the case for any distance 500y or shorter. I think even at 800m/1000y, I'd be faster without the pull buoy. But the evidence that I could pull a 1650 faster than I could swim hit me right between the eyes this morning. So the big question is, how unusual or normal is this? What does it all mean? What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow? Should I give up and go back to middle-distance and sprints?

ganache
March 15th, 2018, 02:12 PM
Coaching a Masters swimming team I consider this pretty normal for men. Often women seem to pull slower with pull buoys. I think it has to do with the average body fat percentages being different between men and women. It would be interesting for you to see an underwater video of your body when swimming versus pulling with the pull buoy. I would guess that your legs are much higher in the water (your body being more horizontal) when you have the pull buoy between your legs. I also notice that often people have different arm stroke cadences when just pulling than with kicking. This is probably related to the arms and the 6-beat kick (or 2-beat kick) coordination. Also kicking can take a lot of energy, so by not kicking you might have been able to work faster with just your arms over the total distance. Just my thoughts.

Rob Copeland
March 15th, 2018, 02:37 PM
What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

I'd say don't give up. But this is really for you to decide.

MSK
March 15th, 2018, 09:59 PM
For what it's worth, I'm female and also a better puller than kicker. I still don't quite understand why because I am actually a better bicyclist than swimmer and would have though I had strong legs. I agree about the energy demands of kicking. I don't need to breathe nearly as often pulling compared to swimming

cinc3100
March 15th, 2018, 10:29 PM
For what it's worth, I'm female and also a better puller than kicker. I still don't quite understand why because I am actually a better bicyclist than swimmer and would have though I had strong legs. I agree about the energy demands of kicking. I don't need to breathe nearly as often pulling compared to swimming

Well, I'm the same. A powerful breaststroke kick and a weak freestyle kick. I swim faster with a pull bouy as well in freestyle and can't swim that good past 200 yards. If I do a freestyle event again it will be 50 or 100 yards.

flystorms
March 16th, 2018, 09:15 AM
Female here and I'm definitely more typical. My pull is nearly always slower, I suspect because I have plenty of floatation in my hips already. :) The buoy puts that whole area higher in the water.

RonCummins
March 16th, 2018, 11:25 AM
You have struck a nerve on this one. I usually go on a rant about this, but I will try to keep it brief here. Too many swimmers, especially triathletes, use pull buoys as crutches. The buoys artificially raise your hips, allowing you to overcome poor streamlining. Most people would be much better served by working to improve body position by 1) lowering the head, 2) raising the hips and 3) related to 2, engaging the abs.

orca1946
March 16th, 2018, 12:13 PM
Also by not using your legs , you save oxygen for other body parts that might account for a better time along with a higher lower body position. IMHO

Gary P
March 16th, 2018, 03:36 PM
You have struck a nerve on this one. I usually go on a rant about this, but I will try to keep it brief here. Too many swimmers, especially triathletes, use pull buoys as crutches. The buoys artificially raise your hips, allowing you to overcome poor streamlining. Most people would be much better served by working to improve body position by 1) lowering the head, 2) raising the hips and 3) related to 2, engaging the abs.


FWIW, I'm a swimmer who dabbles in triathlon, not the other way around. I usually start my warmup with a 200 pull, and might use the pull buoy for a 100 yards of a 300 yard between-sets-active recovery, but that's it. Only because my schedule got scrambled after I'd already done a bike trainer session, and I unexpectedly ended up at the pool shortly after, did I go to the pull buoy for this 1650.

I think your #3 is my problem. In retrospect, I don't think I'm really doing enough yardage to build the core stamina to keep my abs fully engaged for an entire 1650. I've been trying to "hack" my way to 1650 performance on just 12-14k yards a week.

ElaineK
March 16th, 2018, 03:39 PM
You have struck a nerve on this one. I usually go on a rant about this, but I will try to keep it brief here. Too many swimmers, especially triathletes, use pull buoys as crutches. The buoys artificially raise your hips, allowing you to overcome poor streamlining. Most people would be much better served by working to improve body position by 1) lowering the head, 2) raising the hips and 3) related to 2, engaging the abs.

+1 on this. The last time I used my pull buoy was after having hip surgery for a labral tear repair and hip flexor release. After my stitches were removed, the only way my surgeon would only allow me back in the pool for the following two months was if I followed his order of "No kicking!" My pull buoy was my friend for those two months! I haven't used it since.

FindingMyInnerFish
March 16th, 2018, 10:16 PM
I'm female and pull a lot faster than I kick. I'm not a triathlete (I don't bike, but I do run).

Lately, I've been substituting an ankle band for a pull buoy. When I first used one, I could hardly hold my legs up and was sure I'd drown. Now I can swim a lot more easily w the band. (Interestingly, my breaststroke and fly are faster w an ankle band than without--back and free are about the same either way.)

A master's teammate noticed that my hips are higher now and my legs aren't sinking even when I don't wear the band.

Getting to like my band almost as much as my pull buoy! :)

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

Dan Kornblatt
March 17th, 2018, 09:46 AM
As you can see by this thread the use of a pull buoy and most likely paddles is one of the biggest things Masters discuss. The main reason for this lies with the simple fact: We are all different. Surprise! Body composition, O2 uptake, and lastly technique. We all need some amount of kicking to maintain a good streamline. We have to kick for lift as well as speed. The amount of lift needed varies with the swimmer. Some can get by with just a two beat kick others can't. Yu have to find your own level. Try using paddles without the buoy. Your arm efficiency will improve enough that you can experiment with how much of a kick you need to maintain a good body position. A coach or friend would be a great help here as would taking a video for you to look at. Keep your kick shallow, in the hole your upper body is making. Work on ankle flexibility making the foot behave more like a fin. The better the ankle flexibility the less knee bend you need to get a better and more efficient kick. The lower body has over 50% of total muscle mass. That's good for runners bad for swimmers, especially freestyles. A shallow efficient kick will minimize the O2 consumption of the legs leaving more for the arms and core.

orca1946
March 17th, 2018, 02:16 PM
Keep us informed as to your Q times.

Gary P
March 18th, 2018, 08:00 PM
We had a 1650 for time today at Masters Team Practice. I went exactly the same time as Thursday, this time without the pull buoy.