View Full Version : Poll Idea

jim thornton
August 21st, 2002, 01:14 PM

Here's a poll idea for you to consider. During Nationals at Cleveland, I got a lot of conflicting "pacing" advice. I think everyone hopes to swim that flawless race--go out fast enough so as to not get behind and dig yourself an insurmountable hole; but save enough so you don't completely die on the way back.

The extremes of the philosophy boil down to those who:

1) like to save themselves for a strong finish

vs. those who:

2) like to blast off in the beginning and hope to hang on.

This might be a bit of a simple poll, but I'd be interested to see which of these two extremes my fellow swimmers are more likely to side with. In my own case, it's clearly #1 (I negative split the 400 m at Nationals--2:28 for the first 200; 2:20 for the second..)

Others, such as possibly the amazing Greg Shaw, went out during the 200 butterfly in around a 1:05.5, but swam 50 seconds (of agony, it seemed) on the final 50.

I decided to try the "go all out" approach on my last event of the meet--the 100 free. You know you're in trouble when you're dying before you hit the first wall! The last 20 meters reminded me of Xeno's Paradox. Anyhow, I've decided to stick with my original philosophy, i.e., #1 above in everything save 50s.

What do other people think? And does this change with age?

Ion Beza
August 21st, 2002, 03:59 PM
Originally posted by jim thornton

The extremes of the philosophy boil down to those who:

1) like to save themselves for a strong finish

vs. those who:

2) like to blast off in the beginning and hope to hang on.
What do other people think?

I am a proponent of 2).

One of the best races I had had, was a 800 meter free in a 25 meter pool, August 1st., 1991, for a time of 10:33.21.
I split: :32 at 50, 1:10 at 100, 2:32 at 200;
the next 200 was a 2:38, the third 200 was a 2:41, and the last was a 2:42.

If I try 1), I feel being locked in the pace I started with, and cannot descend.

At the Olympic level, the current world record holder for 1500 meter free, Grant Hackett (Aus), and the previous one, Kieren Perkins (Aus) are proponents of 2) like me, while Erik Vendt (US) -coached by Shubert who trained Goodell- is proponent of 1).

Originally posted by jim thornton

And does this change with age?
I think I lost speed and endurance, but my philosophy is the same.

August 21st, 2002, 04:29 PM
I would subscribe to the #1 philosophy. I think that it is important to swim fast, but more importantly, a swimmer should desire to hold stroke form throughout the event. I wouldn't encourage a swimmer to swim in a manner that depletes them of all reserve, only to risk letting their stroke efficiency and form fall to pieces in hopes of staving off hungry competitors. I recommend the third-quarter approach, where the third-quarter of any race is the most critical, and most attention should be paid to that segment...

1st quarter - set up your stroke and let it cruise, fast
2nd quarter- maintain stroke form and try to "hold" the pace from the first quarter (even if it is a mental image only)
3rd quarter - increase your effort and begin any "attack" on those ahead of you
4th quarter - finish it off with whatever is left in the gas tank.

This seems to work well in general, but some tweaking is required for specific swimmers with over-aggressive tendency or a tendency to hold too much in reserve.


mojo flyer
August 21st, 2002, 05:53 PM
For my coaching experience...
which ever you subscribe to should match how you train.
Food for Thought: If you subscribe to #1 as you reach around 45 seconds into your race your lactate will start to build up in your muscles (like I really had to mention that). If you continue to hammer, your muscles will likely cramp up (again, we have all been there done that). What's the point??? Well, if you train a lot of race sprints (lactate swims) and depending on your own body composition the #1 choice will probably work for you because your body can handle the lactate buildup.
However, training lactate especially if you train by yourself is painful (6x100on 8:00 holding 95% of your best/goal time)especially as we get older. So a lot of people choose #2 which is easier to train (pace and negative splitting).
A 500 race strategy for our team that has had a lot of success across age groups, is going out strong on the first 100 then backing off the 2nd 100 smooth (this will help flush out lactate that has begun to build up) then descend 100's thereafter. Sample goal splits for someone who trains pace for 1:10 looks something like this; 1:05, (can go no lower than) 1:15, 1:11, 1:10, 1:09. Anyway, we have had many best times on our team with this formula although it might not be for everyone.

Frank Thompson
August 21st, 2002, 10:40 PM
Kris (mojo flyer) I couldn't have said it better. In fact this is a direct quote from Chapter 11 of Swimming Faster by Ernest Maglischo about pace and strategy. "The purpose of pacing is to prevent the early accumulation of lacate and the subsequent acidosis that reduce the rate of energy metabolism and therefore the swimmer's speed". He goes on to say that the anaerobic metabolism nearly shuts down after 40 to 45 seconds and that it is not necessary for anaerobic metabolism to be shut down before the effects of lactate accumulation cause a reduction in speed. Now with this lactate accumulation results in the reduction of glycogen to the muscles at a faster rate if its an all-out effort and that can happen 20 to 30 seconds after the race begins. That is because it requires 10 to 15 seconds for the creatine phosphate (CP) supply of muscles to become depleted and perhaps another 10 to 15 seconds for anaerobic glycolysis to result in the accumulation of a significant amount of lactic acid.

"Holding back in the early stages of a race delays the accumulation of lacate so that anaerobic metabolism is not curtailed so severely and faster rates of speed can be maintained through the middle and during the the final sprint. Most swimmers find that swimming faster later in the race more than componsates for their slower pace in the beginning and that the total race time is faster". In that chapter he also talks about drop off rates meaning the difference in seconds in the back half of the races. In the 100 meter free you don't see world class swimmers with drop off rates exceeding 2 seconds and sometimes as low as 1.17 seconds.

As an example of this I saw James Thortron's 100 Free and could see that he swam a different strategy than his 200 and 400 Free races. He basically even split is 200 at 1:06 1:06 and swam a negative split of 1:07 on his last 100 of the 400 to a 4:48. On another note my teammate from Michigan Masters Dan Stephenson swam a 1:03 on his last 100 split in the 400 Free on his way to a World record 4:21.15. James was :28.59 at the 50 in his 100 Free good for second but had a 3.3 second drop rate on the 2nd 50 as 3 guys passed him on the last 50. I noticed that was only 1 second slower than his 50 time in the individual event so maybe it wasn't so fast and he was just tired from last day last event.

Another example is the 200 Fly of Greg Shaw. Even though he won his split of 1:05.5 did not look as smooth of a pace swim as the 3 guys that had faster times a year ago in the same event, same age goup. Larry Day had a 1:07.98 split at the 100 and had a time of 2:22.29. Jim McMonica was at 1:09.61 for a 2:25.14 and Rick Colella was 1:08.74 for a 2:27.03. All three had significantly less drop off rates than Greg. Now the 100 Fly was a different story for Greg. His split of :28.55 was about 1 second slower than his 50 individual event time and had a time of 1:02.69 for a much better drop off rate. In comparison, Larry Day split :28.95 for a time of 1:01.96 in 2001. Greg was much closer in drop off rate in the 100 than he was in the 200.

In closing, I have never seen very many World Class swimmers go all out and hold on to have best times. The swimmer that comes to mine is the great Zac Zorn of UCLA in the 1968 Olympics in the 100 Free. He was about as fast at the 50 as his individual event time and was on World Record pace but died a death on the last 10 meters to take 8th place.

August 22nd, 2002, 10:53 PM
I agree with Moflyer as we age we can't hold it as well. Me, I sprinted the 50 meter breastroke at 44.94 at 45 years old recently. But my 100 meter I tried to even pace it and still died in the race some more, at 1:53.10. In comparsion, there were swimmers in my age group that I had swam faster this past summer at the 50 meter breastroke but they beat my time in the 100 meter from about 10 to 6 seconds. I would like to learn how to pace it like when I was 18 years old when I swam the 100 meter at 1:30. But I was a faster swimmer doing the 50 yard at 36 and really doing the 50 meter at 41 or 42 and I could hold my two 50's together much better.