PDA

View Full Version : The effect of scy training/racing on technique



KaizenSwimmer
September 14th, 2006, 08:48 PM
The USA Swimming web site has an article on biomechanics by Jonty Skinner http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=59&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=437&ItemId=1690
that is among the more interesting I've read there or anywhere.

Skinner's position in the article is that short course swimming is essentially a different sport than Long Course. He writes:

"Swimming can be either “cyclical” (something that turns over the same way many times in succession with little or no break) or “serial” (something that is a recycling phase amongst the many parts of a single event). Put into context, SCY races are a series of events joined together to form a single race. A swimming phase followed by a turning phase followed by an underwater kicking phase."

While the turn and pushoff phase of both LCM and scy last 3+ seconds in the freestyle races he analyzed, the ratio between swimming and non-swimming is nearly 8 times greater in Long Course.

The upshot is that he believes scy encourages and "forgives" techniques that are more powerful, but less efficient. These techniques work well in short course, but are too costly in both muscle recruitment and energy consumption to work well when you have to swim much farther between turns.

In the article he attributes a decline in LCM performance on the technique changes that often result from scy training. While coaching age group and open swimmers over 20 years ago I had noticed clearly that those swimmers who were most successful in the LC season were those with the greatest efficiency. And those who had the greatest difficulty in translating scy success into LC were those who most relied on power for speed.

What is striking about Jonty's article is that he sees this as a broad and growing trend. Certainly an interesting thesis.

Something interesting and related that I read 10 years ago: In 1992, USA-S researchers did power measurements on those who swam the Mens 100M Free at Olympic Trials. Those making the final averaged 20% lower stroking power than those who failed to make the final.

Naturally anything that is true of LCM will be true of open water - where there are no turn-and-pushoff resting phases - by an order of magnitude.

That could be one explanation for what I observed of my own swimming over the past several years and mentioned on the pace clock thread -- that I gain open water speed throughout the summer despite doing no timed sets for 3+ months, because my efficiency improves materially while training mainly in VERY long course.

geochuck
September 14th, 2006, 10:13 PM
Very interesting article. It is also amaziing to see the diffrence the 7+ft. makes in 25y and 25m pools.

valhallan
September 15th, 2006, 09:52 AM
One of our age group swimmers has a long time rival in the 100 yard back. She can swim the distance in 58 seconds...while her opponent goes just under :57. (The other girl really hammers the turns...and kicks as much of the pool as possible with an underwater dolphin.)

When it comes to long course meters though...our swimmer can go low 1:06 for the backstroke...whereas the other girl..not able to do her "atomic" turns...finishes slightly under 1:08. A completely different race course altogether.

KaizenSwimmer
September 15th, 2006, 10:33 AM
It first struck me that there must be something materially different about LCM from scy swimming in 1972 when Dave Edgar of Univ of Tennessee dominated the 50 and 100 Free at the NCAA's then barely snuck onto that summer's Olympic team as a relay alterate. I thought "it's only 10 yards more" but almost immediately began thinking that it must involve a different kind of swimming, not just swimming 10 yds farther, for him to be so thoroughly dominant in sc but so completely ordinary in LC.

Coaches have long recognized the difference in realizing it was essential to get as much LC training and racing experience as possible in Olympic years. What Jonty, and his associate Russell Marks seem to be attempting is to analyze and codify the differences in technique and strategy so they can be practiced in a programmatic way.

geochuck
September 15th, 2006, 11:04 AM
I have done long course and short course yard pools 50s and 100s and set records in the long course pools faster than those I did in short course pools. My stroke was more than likely better suited for LC.

Ian Smith
September 15th, 2006, 11:22 AM
George,
Part of the slower short course times in your days (and mine actually, too) was due to the fact that you had to touch the wall with your hand at each turn.

Turning further away from the wall under today's rules make times much better.
Ian

geochuck
September 15th, 2006, 11:27 AM
Ian it may be true and likely true.

hofffam
September 15th, 2006, 11:46 AM
Fred Bousquet may be an example of this. He is far and away the best 50 yd free swimmer in the world with his astonishing 18.76 swum at the 2004 NCAAs. But he was a nobody in Athens, and is regularly beaten on LCM events.

Bousquet swims with a very rapid turnover, nearly straight arm recovery, and an unbelievable turn.

lefty
September 15th, 2006, 12:02 PM
Bousquet is a good example, though he still may adapt to LCM. Brian Retterer of Stanford was something like a 45.2 in the 100 yard back and a 56.0 in meters. When Neil Walker tore it up at NCAA's in 1997 (19.08 and 44 100 back) Eddie Reece said in an interview that it was going to take him a little while to translate those swims to LCM. The question I wonder is, if training short course has a negative impact on long course, is the inverse true? If you consider Yards your course of choice, should you only train yards?

chaos
September 15th, 2006, 12:11 PM
very interesting thread!

i think this raises some important questions:

- should we promote a different technique to swimmers whose ambitions are limited to scy competition than those with a desire to compete long course and open water?

- should we change the focus of stroke mechanics seasonally?

maybe, this is more of an issue for usa swimming than masters, however, within the club that i train with, a fair number of swimmers are primarily triathletes (who never compete in scy events) so yet another question is:

-how can scy training be modified to better serve the population that competes exclusively in open water (the longest course)

thewookiee
September 15th, 2006, 01:16 PM
This summer at the Europeans, Bousquet made a big long course break through. He went 21.9 in the 50 and 48.9 in the 100.

breastroker
September 15th, 2006, 01:27 PM
The difference is also great with the breaststrokes.

The perfect example is Ed Moses, 2:02 200 meter breaststroke, 2:10+ long course. He was 2 seconds faster than anyone else in 100 sc meters, and over 4 seconds faster in the 200 scm. At his peak he was 0.5 seconds faster than any other breaststroker to the 15 meter line, and also 0.5 seconds faster into and out of the turns. Yet an also ran in the Olympics.

There have been MANY other men and women breaststrokers who are great short course and so-so long course.

I believe this is a result of training short course and the adaptaions for that. Breaststroke is very anearobic and requires very high calories output to go fast. I very high turnover rate WILL make you go faster if you only have to swim breast 10-12 yards or meters. This equates to as many as 10 strokes in those 10 yards. But that high turnover rate cannot be retained for the 17-19 strokes needed for long course meters.



Mike Barrowman was the one exception that truly stands out in this stroke. I believe it is because his coach and Mike modified his short course large undulations to the lowest undulations in the 1992 Olympics. His distance per stroke was much greater in the Olympic 200 breast.

aquaFeisty
September 15th, 2006, 01:57 PM
Wayne,

I'm a case-in-point for the 100 and 200 breast. My LCM 100 and 200 are much slower than my scy times convert. In the 50 however, my LCM time converts to almost a full second faster than my scy time. I think in the 50 breast it's so hard to find that 'fast and powerful but not spinning your wheels' cadence. Once I lock into the stroke in LCM, I'm good to go, but forget about trying to get up and sprint twice in scy!!

My two cents on training (from a masters viewpoint). I think that LCM training is great for distance and possibly mechanics (since you have that extra time to settle into your stroke). But I think that scy training has its place too... especially for turns. If you really work on your breast pullouts and underwater dolphins for the other 3 strokes, you're getting significantly less oxygen in scy than lcm. If it's important to you to really work that 7th turn in say, the 200 breast or 200 fly, and not come up sputtering and gasping for air at the flags you want to do the extra turns in practice.

From a non-masters viewpoint, the 'biggie' events in the world are raced in LCM so if you're at that level, that's probably where a significant chunk of your training should be.

Peter Cruise
September 15th, 2006, 02:18 PM
This is very interesting, much of it seems intuitively right, but let me throw a spanner into the works: From the early 50's to the mid 60's a tiny mill town called Ocean Falls in British Columbia dominated Canadian men's swimming (to a lesser degree women's), routinely winning Nationals men's team champs with 4 male swimmers. They trained exclusively in a 20 yard pool & was a town of less than 10,000. Lest you think that this was just a Canadian thing, several swimmers did very well on world stage, Sandy Gilchrist, Ralph Hutton (held world 400m free record).

Now, I'm not bringing this up to blow their horn, but this is a fascinating sidelight to this discussion considering that they routinely excelled in long course pools that they had no access to other than the meet itself.

chaos
September 15th, 2006, 02:21 PM
my understanding of lcm conversion times is that they are based on times posted by swimmers who train scy. (yes?)

is there an inverse?

if so, how do the two compare?

breastroker
September 15th, 2006, 02:41 PM
Peter,
You are very correct, and there have been other teams that have trained short course but did very well long course.

I believe it is their technique that gets them through. And some coaches just do a better job prepairing their swimmers, doesn't seem any difference for coaches like David Salo.

KaizenSwimmer
September 15th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Bu
Originally posted by chaos@ulster.net
- should we promote a different technique to swimmers whose ambitions are limited to scy competition than those with a desire to compete long course and open water?
<snip>
- how can scy training be modified to better serve the population that competes exclusively in open water (the longest course)

Dave has pointed up the reasons I find this topic of compelling interest.

In his article, Jonty is saying that indeed a different technique has already been promoted -- or evolved naturally. This is because NCAA's are the most intensely competitive of all meets, and there are more points at stake in in events of 50 to 100 yds, including the four 4x50 and 4x100 relays, than in events of 200 and longer. That technique values power generation far more highly than movement economy. What coaches may not have anticipated was how that evolution in technique might impact negatively on LC swimming.

This issue will be of primary interest to anyone who prioritizes LC and/or OW swimming and of limited interest to those who compete exclusively in scy (e.g. HS).

As Peter Cruise notes there have been some noteworthy examples of club teams that have competed very effectively in LC though limited to 25 or sometimes 20-yd courses in training. I'd venture to say that those clubs were likely coached by individuals who were very good technicians. Paul Bergen coaching Nashville Aquatic Club in the late 70s is a good example. They did have summer LC access, but for the first few years he was there, he developed the best club team in the US training in a 20-yd pool. In 1979, three NAC swimmers won four or five gold medals and broke four world records in the World Championships. At the time, Bergen was the unquestioned master of technique among American coaches.

As for modifying technique, or training approach in a scy pool, for LC or OW, I do exactly that. I train all year as if for OW. I recognize in doing so that the techniques I choose to employ -- though they'll be advantageous in OW -- may somewhat limit my speed potential for scy meets (but I try to make up for that by working intensively on my turns). However, the triathletes who train with us have shown little interest in taking cues from that.

craiglll@yahoo.com
September 15th, 2006, 03:13 PM
Originally posted by Peter Cruise
This is very interesting, much of it seems intuitively right, but let me throw a spanner into the works: From the early 50's to the mid 60's a tiny mill town called Ocean Falls in British Columbia dominated Canadian men's swimming (to a lesser degree women's), routinely winning Nationals men's team champs with 4 male swimmers. They trained exclusively in a 20 yard pool & was a town of less than 10,000. Lest you think that this was just a Canadian thing, several swimmers did very well on world stage, Sandy Gilchrist, Ralph Hutton (held world 400m free record).

Now, I'm not bringing this up to blow their horn, but this is a fascinating sidelight to this discussion considering that they routinely excelled in long course pools that they had no access to other than the meet itself.

When I was in high school, we trained in a pool built by the army. It was 33yards. While we trained, we swam with out the bulkhead. when we competed, we used the bulkheads to make it 25yds. It was really strange. We usually had one or two guys go to state. At the time, we swam against two schools that practiced in 20 yds. when they got to our pool, they would generally do pretty good. Swimming 33yds backstroke then trying to do 25yds was really hard for me. I never seemed to have the hand I wanted ready to touch the wall to turn. Now though I can do old style back turns with either hand. & from back to breast the same way. However, I am no longer very quick.

geochuck
September 15th, 2006, 03:41 PM
I trained in a 25 yard pool only did the LC at the games once a year.

Some of the best swimmers I knew trained in 20 yard pools.

One of the best backstroke swimmers I knew trained in a 39 foot pool.

Pools do not make a great difference, coaches do.

KaizenSwimmer
September 15th, 2006, 03:55 PM
Coaches make far more of a difference than pools do. And the best of them are able to respond opportunistically to the kind of pool they have to train in. When they do...then the pool also makes a difference.

Paul Smith
September 15th, 2006, 04:28 PM
I have a stroke that is far more "natural" to long course, my tempo is quite a bit slower......mostly related to about a 6' 9" wingspan......to compnsate I train very differantly for the two courses.

For short course (meters & yards) sprinting (I also train differently depdening on what "mood" I'm in that year; 50/100 or 200/500) I put a lot more time into the weight room, run stadiums, and radically change increase my turnover.

For long course I lift very light with higher reps.....lots of flexiblity work and no more than twice a week....I also stop ligting about 5-6 weeks before the meet (vs. 2-3 short course). I also find that for sprints there is a 2-3 stroke "building" phase off the start that helps me establish a comfortable rythym.

last but not least......a few coaches 've trained with over the years have felt very strongly that you can "over train" long course......it does tend to break you down more and it helps to alternate specific "short course" days....soem are recovery days, some speed days, etc.

TheGoodSmith
September 15th, 2006, 05:02 PM
It's simple..... Long Course is boring and painful.

Besides..... you have to have an attention span longer than 11 seconds.


John smith

geochuck
September 15th, 2006, 05:26 PM
Finger tip to finger tip Paul you and I are twins I am 6'3" tall actually 6"2.5". When I swam a hundred every one thought I was taking it easy very slow strokes. But I had expelled everything I could give.

Allen Stark
September 15th, 2006, 09:53 PM
It's not just power,it's turns also.I like to say"long course is for swimmers,short course is for turners" 200 LCM breast is a completly different event from SCY.In SCY I'll take 47 strokes to 78 in LCM. For the underwater dolphin kickers in fly and back I'm sure there is an even bigger difference.

KaizenSwimmer
September 15th, 2006, 09:59 PM
Originally posted by Allen Stark
I'll take 47 strokes to 78 in LCM.

That's impressive. Impressive that you know the counts and those are very efficient numbers in both cases.

When Amanda Beard set the World (now the American) Record for 200 LCM Breast at 2004 Olympic Trials, her stroke count was 15-17-18-19. Try to match that some time -- not Allen specifically, anyone.

Allen Stark
September 16th, 2006, 01:55 PM
I always count my strokes in workouts, then in a meet I keep my stroke count without thinking. Keeping my stroke count helps keep me from thrashing in a race.

craiglll@yahoo.com
September 16th, 2006, 04:53 PM
Originally posted by Allen Stark
I always count my strokes in workouts, then in a meet I keep my stroke count without thinking. Keeping my stroke count helps keep me from thrashing in a race.

I don't understand. Doesn't everyone?

KaizenSwimmer
September 19th, 2006, 04:41 AM
Craig
It's been my experience that very few swimmers monitor their SPL as a matter of course. I count every stroke I ever take in practice. As a result of doing so for 10 or 12 years it now take minimal processing power to do so. It's become automated.

I use that stroke count to achieve many interesting speed/effort variations and when I DO use the pace clock, it's never without cross-reference to my SPL.

I also use SPL as a regulating measure when racing.

In OW I can do this as well, as I am sufficiently familiar with my 13SPL "feel" vs my 15 SPL feel from training (or 32SPL vs 38 SPL from LCM) that I can employ them during various stages of an OW race.

geochuck
September 19th, 2006, 07:36 AM
Terry

How many strokes does it take in an endless pool to swim the length??? My wife and I are thinking of either
http://www.sentrypool.com/sentry_River_Pool.html
or www.riverpool.com or an endless pool.

Jeff Commings
September 19th, 2006, 11:42 AM
Jonty was my coach for two years, and he always stressed the importance of long course training, though at the time his swimmers were all postgrads and had no need to train for any short course meets.

I was always an anomaly, and I think he knew it. I could keep my stroke rhythm for 100 meters back or breast just as well as a yards race. A lot of young swimmers in high school look forward to NCAA swimming that they prepare for years to be good short course swimmers. That's backwards. They should be preparing to be good long course swimmers, because the ultimate goal -- the Olympics/Nationals/etc. -- are in long course. If your body is trained to be a long course swimmer, short course swimming is sometimes easier.

Short course swimming and long course swimming are indeed two different beasts, and you have to be able to adjust to them correctly. I think Ryan Lochte has finally been able to do that, judging by the way he performed at NCAAs/short course worlds and then this summer at Pan Pacs.

The kids on the age group team here do both short course and long course training. I'm glad they have that opportunity.

Masters teams don't often have that luxury.

KaizenSwimmer
September 19th, 2006, 11:55 AM
The Masters team I swim with trains scy and my only opportunities to train LCM between Sept and June are when I happen to travel.
But I swim scy with my LCM/OW stroke even though it puts me behind in 25s and 50s.

Mswimming
September 19th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Having never swam long course prior to swimming masters, I have certainly found that there is an adjustment period when switching to and from long course.

Last year I started masters during long course season and was so out of shape it didn't matter what pool I was swimming in. So when the switch to short course came it was much welcomed. I generally try to use a fast 100 and what I can hold during a set of 100's during practice as my bench marks as to how I am doing. So at the start of short course last year I could do close to a 1:00 fast from a push and hold just under 1:15's for repeat hundreds on 1:30. Then by the end of short course training I could swim a fast 100 in about 53 seconds from a push and hold 1:02's for repeats on 1:30.

Then this past june when we switched to long course, I felt like I was starting over. I could not hold comparable times. A fast 100 was probably 1:10 and I could hold 1:19/20's for repeats on 1:45. And the same guys I held my own with in SCY were kicking my butt now in long course. As the season progressed I slowly adjusted my stroke. Specifically I really started working my hips to generate power in lieu of a faster turn over. By the end of LCM I was able to hold 1:10's for repeat 100's on 1:45 and go a 1:02 from a push in practice.

Now coming back to SCY's I thought that the stroke improvement I gained in LCM would make me faster in SCY. But it didn't. So far I've felt slower. And again the same guys I could keep up with at the end of LCM are again kicking my butt at the start of SCY training. And now I am trying to figure out how to adjust while taking advantage of the stroke improvement I gained during long course. But I think it is more or less my lazy turns that I seemed to have developed during LCM training that are slowing me down.

I'm learning though. And I think the adaptation between the two courses ultimately will help me swim faster since both seem to reveal different weaknesses in my swimming. LCM power and efficiency and SCY turns and streamlining. I just need to figure out how to combine the two.

Kevin

geochuck
September 19th, 2006, 04:21 PM
Scy or Lcm really to me no difference I went like H..l each time I swam a 100 and died at the end.

KaizenSwimmer
September 19th, 2006, 04:34 PM
Which is pretty much how most everyone swims it. The reason we had such a significant turnaround in the fortunes of the sprint group at Army during the three years I coached there was that we planned and trained specifically for them to:
a) take a bit longer building toward peak velocity -- to reach it just before the 75, then
b) sustain it over the final 25 while everyone else was decelerating.

Then we devoted every minute of training time to developing all the skills and habits and instincts that would make that automatic.

All of them had previously taken the approach of go as fast as possible and hang on as long as possible. They all swam lifetime bests after changing to the approach described above, and the group as a whole went from the most underperforming of all the training groups at West Point to the most overachieving in the Patriot League.