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View Full Version : Strokes p/length - do I stink?



swimmer_steph
January 6th, 2005, 06:45 PM
Ive tried searching for the answer to my question but I've been unsuccessful, so here goes another newbie query:

If Im swimming 24 strokes* per length (75 feet) am I really a terrible swimmer? Im 57 w/what I suppose is an average build :confused: Any suggestions for improvement?

Thanks!

Steph



*And just to clarify, by strokes Im referring to swimming freestyle - right hand in equals one stroke and then left hand in equals two strokes, etc., until I reach the end of the lane.

hooked-on-swimming
January 6th, 2005, 08:21 PM
I think there is definitely room for improvement, but # of strokes does not exactly describe what kind of swimmer you are, if you are fast with that that works for you then, some pro swimmers have quite a high # of strokes, but are incredibly fast.Although the tendency is that the best swimmers are able to take fewer strokes.
You also did not mention what pace you take those strokes at.When I race my stroke rate goes up quite a bit.Well, I still need to work on that, too.At an average pace I will make 14-16 strokes per 25m(82 feet).

hooked-on-swimming
January 6th, 2005, 08:27 PM
one interesting fact: Michael Wendenwon the 100 meters at the 1968 Olympics while revving at the incredible rate of 65 strokes for the last length of the pool(50m), Spitz on the other hand won that event in 1972 with about 20 strokes less(around 45) and with a better time.Nowadays you will see anywhere from 30 to 40s per 50 m(or 12-14 to about 20-22) per 25 m.

Fred Johnson
January 6th, 2005, 10:53 PM
I never counted strokes before. Technical proficiency, speed, endurance, aesthetic beauty, etc. all could provide a measure of one's proficiency in swimming. If you enjoy it and it provides you some benefit (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, comical, etc.), why care how many strokes you take in a 25?

auto208562
January 6th, 2005, 11:07 PM
As a tri participant, strokes can be very important for efficiency and saving strength. For example, in an ironman, imagine swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean at 60 strokes per 25 meters. Even if you finish by some miracle, you still have a long bike ride and marathon run behind it.

As sort of stated before, I agree that sometimes more strokes per length can make you faster. But can you maintain that speed for the length of swim you need? It's really going to depend on how far you are swimming, how fast you need to go, and also your physical measures (someone with longer arms may not have to stroke as many because his pull and reach is greater, as in someone with shorter arms have no choice but to stroke more).

If you are only swimming 100 meters, than maybe you can have 50 strokes per 25m. But if you are swimming miles, then maybe you have to be more efficient.

Fred Johnson
January 6th, 2005, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by auto208562
As a tri participant, strokes can be very important for efficiency and saving strength. For example, in an ironman, imagine swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean at 60 strokes per 25 meters. Even if you finish by some miracle, you still have a long bike ride and marathon run behind it.

As sort of stated before, I agree that sometimes more strokes per length can make you faster. But can you maintain that speed for the length of swim you need? It's really going to depend on how far you are swimming, how fast you need to go, and also your physical measures (someone with longer arms may not have to stroke as many because his pull and reach is greater, as in someone with shorter arms have no choice but to stroke more).

If you are only swimming 100 meters, than maybe you can have 50 strokes per 25m. But if you are swimming miles, then maybe you have to be more efficient.

Point well taken. My point is simply that stroke count can be a distraction that may be unnecessary in particular circumstances. It doesn't determine whether someone is a terrible swimmer or a great swimmer.

Fred Johnson
January 6th, 2005, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by auto208562
As a tri participant, strokes can be very important for efficiency and saving strength. For example, in an ironman, imagine swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean at 60 strokes per 25 meters. Even if you finish by some miracle, you still have a long bike ride and marathon run behind it.

As sort of stated before, I agree that sometimes more strokes per length can make you faster. But can you maintain that speed for the length of swim you need? It's really going to depend on how far you are swimming, how fast you need to go, and also your physical measures (someone with longer arms may not have to stroke as many because his pull and reach is greater, as in someone with shorter arms have no choice but to stroke more).

If you are only swimming 100 meters, than maybe you can have 50 strokes per 25m. But if you are swimming miles, then maybe you have to be more efficient.

Point well taken. My point is simply that stroke count can be a distraction that may be unnecessary in particular circumstances. It doesn't determine whether someone is a terrible swimmer or a great swimmer.

auto208562
January 6th, 2005, 11:22 PM
I agree with you 100%.


Originally posted by Fred Johnson
Point well taken. My point is simply that stroke count can be a distraction that may be unnecessary in particular circumstances. It doesn't determine whether someone is a terrible swimmer or a great swimmer.

Fred Johnson
January 6th, 2005, 11:28 PM
Originally posted by auto208562
I agree with you 100%.

What's Team HAC Multisport?

scyfreestyler
January 6th, 2005, 11:55 PM
I would say that your stroke count is high but I don't know if you are pushing off the wall or just start stroking immediately. Ideally you should continually aim to reduce your stroke count while maintaining a fluid movement. The fewer strokes you take per length the less energy you expend and the less wear and tear you place on your body. Efficiency is key in the water. H20ustonswims.com has a plethora of articles that are good reading, many of which deal with stroke count and way to improve it. For me, my catch was failing me. A dropped elbow underwater was slowing me down. With a more efficient catch and pull coupled with good balance I typically swim a 25 yard length between 13 and 16 strokes. Check out the website and it's articles, I think you will find them useful.

swimmer_steph
January 7th, 2005, 12:02 AM
I *am* interested in participating in a tri later this year and I'm guessing that's how I even got to thinking about strokes in the first place. I probably read a post somewhere on the subject....

I don't know how fast I'm swimming so I'll time myself tomorrow and post it here so perhaps that will provide a better picture of what I need to do to improve. My ultimate goals are endurance and speed - in that order.

You guys are making terrific points - thank you!

Guvnah
January 7th, 2005, 04:33 PM
Steph -- You can reduce the number of strokes.

First off, someone mentioned body type. I have a long, trim body. I take fewer strokes than most. Another guy who swims at the same time I do is stocky and muscular. Used to be a wrestler. He swims at a good clip too, but he takes almost 50% more strokes than I do per length, and I just can't see him and his build improving on that much.

Here's what you can do to take fewer strokes.

When your hand strikes the water, don't start pulling immediately. (Most people do.) Instead, push your hand forward in the water, as if you are sliding your arm into a coat sleeve. As you push your hand forward, you should be doing it as you are rolling to that side and are extending your other hand down by your thigh at the end of its stroke.

Several things are occurring as you do this.

1) Many people imagine their stroke like paddlewheels. Their shoulders stay perpendicular to their spine, even if they rotate their body. In fact, your shoulders should be pivoting relative to your spine. The shoulder for the hand that is pushing forward in the water should be tipping forward, and the other backward. This will gain you 6 inches or so on each arm stroke simply by making your arms reach further by that much. And while the other shoulder is tipping back, you are getting another 6 inches on your pull. (Just sitting where you are now, tip your shoulders without moving your spine. If you extend your arms above your head and tip your shoulders, you can see the lengthening in your stroke by the amount that your hands move relative to each other.)

This won't happen overnight (if you are not doing it already.) It will feel awkward. Will probably make you breathe harder at first. But give it a chance.

2) As your hand is pushing forward in the water in front of you, you are sort of "surfing" over a wave of turbulence that you naturally create beneath you as you swim. Imagine yourself catching that wave beneath your armpit as you swim. As your body rolls, you are rolling over it. Take full advantage of it. It may seem counter-intuitive to be pushing against the water below the surface, but it is the riding of this turbulence that gains you more than you lose by pushing against the water. And if you have good hand placement, you slice through the water rather than push against it anyway. (And the use of hand paddles will help you quickly discover inefficiencies in your hand placement as the paddles amplify drag from your hands.) Caution, there is a point of diminishing (and then negative) return in pushing forward and riding this wave. You will have to develop a "feel" for this over time. I have no idea how to describe it.

3) I find that concentrating on this technique helps me get better body roll.

Hope this helps!

BTW, I am by no means a master of this myself. I do pretty well (13-14 strokes average per 25 yards, and I can do 10 at my very best. But I recall reading somewhere that Alexander Popov could do 8 per 25 meters.) And as someone else mentioned, the faster you push, the higher the count gets. But if you are looking to do a tri, then doing that distance leg in a race would probably be at the aerobic pace you would do in workouts, so you can get a pretty good sense of what you'll do in a race by the progress you make each day in the pool.

swimmer_steph
January 12th, 2005, 08:41 PM
Thank you so much everyone for your replies. I finally timed myself and I came it at a sorry 52 seconds for swimming 75 ft., flipping, and swimming the retrun 75 ft.

I'm taking your suggestions to the pool w/me!

Steph

:)