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billwhite
September 16th, 2002, 12:01 PM
TI advice:

This question is aimed at on of you who have instructed people with TI methods and or stroke length vs stroke rate (such as Emmitt H, Matt S, Terry L, etc). I am one of the coaches of a masterís team along with one of these forumsí regular post contributorsí, Jim Thornton. As a coach I am a proponent of TI type methods of balance, body position and stroke count. I try to teach all my swimmers to do these things and I believe that the results have been positive. I am pretty sure that every single one of our swimmers who have followed the coaching advice has improved his/her times. As a swimmer I also have been practicing body position and stroke count regularly for the past 2-Ĺ seasons and have somewhat changed the way I swim. I am happy with the results, as my stroke looks very fluid and somewhat relaxed swimming through sets. I have not actually seen my stroke in practice but have had positive feedback from my co-coach and other swimmers.
I think that I should add a little of my swimming background before I get to my point. I was a decent college swimmer and was mainly a breastroker although I swam mostly freestyle in meets due to our roster limitations. My main events were 100yd Free (46.6 best), 50 free (22.0 best), 200 free (1:46.6 best). As a freestyler I had always had a tremendously fast turnover, even when swimming a 200. I would easily take 20+ strokes per 25yd when swimming these times. Needless to say, my turnover rate never went unnoticed.
Now this is where I need help or advice. I have been totally unable to translate TI type methods to fast swimming times. For 2+ seasons I tried to stay long and relaxed while sprinting to mixed success: I know that I felt like my stroke was much more relaxed and less tired (not as much lactic build-up) on my swims using TI methods and I did reasonably good times for my age (32) 50-51sec 100 free, 23.5 sec 50 free. Regardless, during the past 6 months or so I decided to go back to high turnover swimming and lo and behold my times went back down 48.8sec 100 free, 22.4 sec 50 free. I must admit that swimming high turnover is harder on my arms and shoulders however, I donít really get as extremely tired (aerobic/heart rate) in practice as you might expect as I churn out 15-18 strokes per 25yd. I actually felt (and was) much more tired the 2 seasons I spent swimming low stroke count (11-14 strokes/25yd), balancing my body and using a smaller kicking motion. I am absolutely sure that my stroke looks terrible when I Ďspiní as I do yet it seems effective.
I would prefer to swim long and relaxed for 2 reasons: 1) I love the way it feels and looks and 2) I need to keep some credibility as a coach since my team sees me not practicing what I preach. I just would like to have the best of both worlds: swim quickly and make it look good.
I donít know if any of you have ever run into swimmers who just were unable to make the transition to faster times when swimming lower stroke count and if so what your advice would be.
Thanks for any help

Bill White

Matt S
September 16th, 2002, 02:40 PM
Bill,

Wow, mentioned in the same parenthesis as Emmett and Terry; thanks for the compliment.

You sound as well qualified to break down your stroke as I am (maybe some videotaping of yourself would help), and I cannot say anything for sure since I cannot see your stroke. However, are you sure you actually have a problem? Terry talks about training your muscle memory to swim the TI style at any speed, without thinking about it. When you race, don't think, just swim. Perhaps your perception of SL vs. SR has shifted so much, that a much improved SL now feels like you are still flailing. A SR of 20/25 yards sounds a little high, but not ridiculous for sprint events.

Are you still hitting all the TI fine points? Rolling your body, head down looking at the pool bottom, kicking in coordination with your arm stroke (See Emmett's articles "Bottom-Up Swimming")? It sounds from your comments that you feel like you are losing the "front quandrant" aspect of your swimming. Maybe you can experiment with taking a split second pause before initiating your pull, and get more of a TI action back in your stroke.

TI is not a static dogma. I can tell you from chatting with them that Emmett and Terry have different views on the use of the kick. The core idea behind it is that the human body is not designed to swim fast. Learning how to swim efficiently is an individual journey you have to tailor to your body, bearing in mind certain hydrodynamic principals. (And it's way more complicated that training your body to be able to work harder and harder using your same old mechanincs.) This is particularly true for someone like you who already swims pretty darn fast even before you started with TI. So tape yourself in workout and in a meet, compare the two with the TI videos and some of the video clips of world-class swimmers in competition. (When I looked really closely at Popov, I noticed he rotates his hips a LOT less than you would expect from reading the TI stories about him.) I expect you will find that the things you would like to change from you current "flailing" style are more incremental than you would expect.

Matt

tpalmer385
September 16th, 2002, 04:31 PM
Bill,
I wish I could help you. Like you, I feel my form has improved, but to go fast, I have to go to a high turnover. I hope someone out there can definitevely answer your question because I sure don't know.

I'm not ready to give up hope yet, but until I find an answer, I just say that the TI methods work really well for some people and not for others(regretably I'm one of the others).

Hang in there,
Terry

Gil
September 16th, 2002, 05:23 PM
I have been using/learning the TI method for several years and have also become slower rather than faster. I also was attempting to use the S-shaped pull. I recently saw a copy of Colwins latest book in which he states to pull the arm straight back being sure the palm always faces backward and that the natural roll of the body will cause the hand to travel in the correct path for maximum pull. Comments would be appreciated. Also, he stresses high elbow and gives excellent hint as to how to attain it.

ShinobDood
September 16th, 2002, 05:34 PM
Yo... Bill, Those are some pretty decent times. My thoughts on sprinting vs. distance per stroke... Here is a little scenario...

Lets say you are a Drag racer, and you're putting you're rig together B4 a big race.. Somebody walks up to you and tells you to put LARGER gears in your sled...so you try it. You give it a shot, what the heck... why not? Then you run a race and find out.... The Hole shot was slower, the car took longer getting down the track... and your time sucked.

My advice would be to use the right gears...the ones YOU KNOW work. If any one tells you different.. SCREW THAT!

Shinob dood - out

Paul Smith
September 16th, 2002, 05:47 PM
I've been struggling with the same questions regarding SR and attempting to find the right tempo. One thing I think is important to consider is that you can't really compare the 50/100 to 200 and above. I hold a pretty consistent count of 10 per lap 200-500, however I jump to about 14/15 in the 50.

I've mentioned before how I find in my own swimming the key factor in changing speed is my kick. Over the middle distance events I maintain a 2 beat kick, however I have an 8 beat kick in a 50. I also find that I ride higher in the water, have less "lope" in my stroke and less hip rotation in the 50.

When TI was first being discussed on this site a couple of years ago I expressed my concern that many swimmers would misinerpret the "slow swimming" and drill elements being promoted. I guarantee that when Popov is swimming "slow" he's actually digging VERY deep and producing a massive amount of power. There is a balance, you need proper technique executed at a very high level of effort!

Janis
September 16th, 2002, 05:57 PM
I think Matt has the right idea. You practice all the form, coordinating the arms, body, legs, learn to reduce drag, keep your head down and still and other points by learning (or relearning) slowly. Commiting it to muscle memory. But when it comes to the actual race do not think of form, S/L or S/R. Some of the principles should stick if you've had enough mindful practice. This works for sprinters.

I go to many national level championships for USAS, watching all those who people talk about. I see them in warmup and cool down swimming slow with perfect form, looking like they are paying attention to their stroke form. This is not what happens during the race.

For those who swim the other distances that hardly anyone does comparisons of--- mid to long distance you can think more of the principles as you swim because you do have more time but if done your homework you don't need to.

KenChertoff
September 16th, 2002, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by Gil
I have been using/learning the TI method for several years and have also become slower rather than faster. I also was attempting to use the S-shaped pull. I recently saw a copy of Colwins latest book in which he states to pull the arm straight back being sure the palm always faces backward and that the natural roll of the body will cause the hand to travel in the correct path for maximum pull. Comments would be appreciated. Also, he stresses high elbow and gives excellent hint as to how to attain it.

I've heard from a number of coaches (including mine), as well as a couple of Olympic swimmers, that the "S-pull" is actually a function of body roll -- if your body is rolling from side-to-side while your hand remains pointed to the floor with a high elbow and pulling straight back, the movement will naturally LOOK like an "S" relative to the body, but NOT to the pool bottom. You can demonstrate this to yourself in front of a mirror. So, in a sense, the S-pull is really a optical illusion and consciously making your hands move in an S pattern is unnecessary. It might even be counterproductive since your hand could be slipping through the water.

Janis
September 16th, 2002, 06:23 PM
Oh no I've been bumped from participating member to active member.

Gill- TI doesn't particularly advocate the S curve. If it works for you okay but most of us just hold the water and "pull" straight back. However it is more of a hold the water and get the body past the hand.

valhallan
September 16th, 2002, 07:46 PM
I've been working on T.I. swimming this entire summer. I think that the straight snatch and pull under the torso is somewhat of an illusion.

After really breaking down my technique, frame by frame, it is clearly evident that the hands are still sculling the water in what we called the 'S' shaped pull due to body roll, even though they appear to stay in a straight line.

I think the real fact of the matter is that the hands must constantly be sculling to grab onto still water which hasn't been pulled or pushed upon yet. Cause if you grab onto moving water "you'll be slipping and not gripping".

KenChertoff
September 16th, 2002, 11:33 PM
Your hand has to move from from side to side somewhat, because that's the way your arm is constructed -- the elbow joint is a hinge between two rigid parts. But, nevertheless, the motion doesn't need to be the exagerated S-pull that used to be taught.

I don't see why the water to the right or left of the your hand is any more still than the water being pushed against. If anything, deliberately moving your hand from side to side would be "slipping," not to mention wasted motion.

I think the better way to look at the motion is that the hand is "anchoring" itself and pushing the body past.

valhallan
September 17th, 2002, 06:42 AM
Ken,

I totally agree with what you just said. If anything the hands are staying put during the entire underwater arm cycle, but they do however change their pitch and angle as they go from the entry snatch to the final push at the hips. Thats what I describe as sculling. Its a very subtle way to grab onto that imaginary ladder rung located under the center of your body line.

I think it's the rolling motion of the shoulders and upper torso which give the illusion that the hands are going through the motions of an S. But you are absolutely right about the hands being anchored (in both freestyle and backstroke particularly). The best swimmers in the world have their hands enter and exit the water in more or less the exact same spot.

tpalmer385
September 17th, 2002, 08:54 AM
Bill,

I've thought about your posting for about 24 hours now. I found that to swim my fastest, I use a high turnover--like 12 strokes breaststroke for 25 yards(BTW, my times are nowhere near your times). Like you, I've done tons of drills. The stroke that I use when I am swimming fast must have a tiny propulsive phase. To go fast, I have to turn over quickly so that I hit that tiny propulsive phase many many times.

Regrettably, the drills don't seem to have an impact on that tiny propulsive phase of mine. I think the drills have improved my streamline, pull, and kick, BUT they have not impacted those gyrations I go through to go fast. They miss that tiny propulsive phase of mine.

I hope a swimmer out there puts up a posting that will help.

Hang in there,

Paul Smith
September 17th, 2002, 01:02 PM
One other point regarding drills/TI/SR, etc. I run into quite a few masters swimmers who train extremally hard, however rarely at "race pace".

Quite a few people complain that they spend a tremendous amount of time working on their stroke and logging miles, however they only "rest" and race one or two meets a year often times very frustrated with breakdowns in technique or mental lapses.

If you want to swim/race fast, you gotta go to lots of meets and train once or twice a week at race pace (using all those techniques you drill on)!

Gil
September 17th, 2002, 05:09 PM
Thanks to all those who responded to my query about the S pull. Today I went to the pool and discovered that in fact I had a much better hold on the water when I was not attempting to purposefully make my hands follow an S pattern. I will now practice diligently according to the Colwin dictum--- until someone writes another book and nullifies all my efforts!!!

Ion Beza
September 17th, 2002, 08:56 PM
I recognize my past two years of training and complaining in the post below,

Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
Quite a few people complain that they spend a tremendous amount of time working on their stroke and logging miles, ...
...

when I did two major competitions each year, mediocrily swam.

Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
If you want to swim/race fast, you gotta go to lots of meets and train once or twice a week at race pace (using all those techniques you drill on)!
In 2002 I raced in four competitions. I can consider more.

I miss training at race pace, which ironically I was doing it on my own when getting good times for me in USMS meets in 1994 and 1995.
Then I was accelerating and sustaining kicking to a higher intensity, triggering a faster arm turnover rate, similar distance per stroke to what I have now -I think-, and I was recovering in more workouts than in the last two years.
To address this training at race speed with support from a program I recently joined, I need to synchonize my ability for recovery, threshold, and sprint, to the coached workouts, so that I peak in their threshold and sprint days.

Fisch
September 17th, 2002, 09:44 PM
Bill,
Just in case you (and others) didn't realize it (I didn't
until today), Paul Smith (AKA Tall Paul) was the FIRST
40 year old to break two minutes in the 200 Free--
LCM!!!! Plus other World Records....

He says his S/L increases by 40-50% in the 50 vs 200.

He says ya gotta swim fast in practice in order to swim
fast in competition.

I'll take his word for it.

cinc3100
September 17th, 2002, 11:46 PM
Ion,don't worry. I can't sprint that much in workouts compared to what I could do 20 years ago. Anyways, at least you didn't swim an event about 23 seconds slower,I did.

Gil
September 19th, 2002, 05:18 PM
In this thread reference has been made to body roll several times.Is a criteria to determine, in general, a good body roll being able to see a side of the pool on each free style stroke? Comments will be appreciated as you can surmise by now I am self coached.

strong440
September 19th, 2002, 10:29 PM
hey Gil, your equating body roll to looking equally at both lane lines is on the right track. In doing so you are accomplishing the same thing, but in a better way, the swimmer who breathes every third stroke, alternately on the left and the right side. That is, primarily, the evening out of the stroke of both arms.

The more you can do this without independent head turning the better, and you can still breathe on your natural side.

Check out Emmett's website for detailed description of how you can do this. Best,

Gil
September 20th, 2002, 05:19 PM
May I have the address for Emmitts' web site?

strong440
September 20th, 2002, 06:37 PM
hey Gil, Your question surely is the best one of the day! and the answer is http://H2OustonSwims.org

You'd do well to lasso it and hang it to your Booknotes or Favorites category for quick reference in the future.

p.s. his six letter name consists of only three. That is, two each of e, m, and t. Not only that, but he thinks fistgloves will serve you better than "neked fists".

strong440
September 20th, 2002, 07:16 PM
I forgot to mention, look for the article Waiting to Inhale on Emmett's web site, which will address your original question that I have revised to be look at both lane lines (equally long)?

And since I've got the floor, I can't resist the opportunity to remind you what youv'e likely forgotten over the years. That is, that exhaling requires more "breathing effort" than inhaling because of the fact that you must overcome the pressure of the water, while inhaling should be effortless. And warm down everyday with closed fists to prevent sore shoulders. A hundred or two of crawl or any other stroke.

breastroker
September 28th, 2002, 12:47 AM
Janice,
You said:
"I go to many national level championships for USAS, watching all those who people talk about. I see them in warmup and cool down swimming slow with perfect form, looking like they are paying attention to their stroke form. This is not what happens during the race. "
This is such a great quote, I too do this and the great swimmers do all the TI type drills almost in slow motion.

There are two important points brought up so far,
1) One has to practice perfect, and at times practice fast
2) Swimmers need to do more meets to translate the drills into race speed.

Lots of coaches complain about swimmers doing to many meets, both Masters coaches and Olympic program coaches. But great swimmers from around the world are doing many many more meets, and getting faster. The World cup allows great swimmers meets for money all over the globe.

I am starting another thread to find out how often masters swimmers compete. I know my best years was when I swam 30 meets a year. How many meets does Tall Paul do per year?