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KaizenSwimmer
December 26th, 2006, 09:21 AM
In another thread I referred to "shaping the vessel" as an organizing principle for training, which led to several questions. That sent me to my files where I found a letter from Rick Sharp Ph.D. who was the Performance Science Director for USA Swimming in the 1980s and 90s. Rick had originally written the letter to Nort Thornton, the coach at Cal, after Nort had asked him for some talking points to persuade coaches of the importance of drag reduction. He sent me a copy when I asked him the same questions. Some excerpts:

"I am convinced that coaches in this country could really benefit from completely rethinking the fundamental basis of our sport...to remind themselves that swimming successfully (unlike most other sports) requires one to balance the need to produce propulsion with a need to reduce resistance.

The more propulsion one can produce with the least resistance the faster the swimmer will go. Sure that sounds ridiculously elementary, but think again, if everybody fully understood that concept, would it make sense to spend 95 percent of our time and energies on increasing swimmers' propulsive potential?"

Dr. Sharp wrote this Aug 19, 1996, but on the whole, little has changed in the 10+ years since he wrote it. More coaches give attention to balance and "active streamlining" but the instinctive thinking of most swimmers is still toward "building the engine" rather than "shaping the vessel." I believe this is why my posts on this Forum meet significant "resistance." When I write of "sacred cows" it's the instinctive preference for more yards, more power, more effort, over less drag and energy cost.

More from the letter:
"In a study of the mens 100 free finalists and non-finalists from the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Jane Cappaert observed that the finalists produced 16% LESS propulsive power on average than the non-finalists. If the finalists were swimming faster with less power than the non-finalists the reason must be that finalists didn't need high propulsive power to attain their race velocities."

I.E. In this instance -- a sprint event -- those with sleeker "vessels" decisively outswam those with more powerful "engines."

More from the letter:
"...although we have concentrated on generating lots of propulsive power, evidence suggests the opposite approach may deserve a great deal more attention."

"Increasing distance per stroke by an average of 12% decreased the oxygen uptake by 9% and decreased blood lactate concentration by 20% when swimming at the same speed. Clearly there can be great payoffs from small reductions of resistance."

He went on to advocate that high volume training could produce more benefit if coaches used it "to develop a neuromuscular or economy base" instead of an aerobic base.

When you pursue a "building the engine" paradigm in training, you increase volume or intensity -- you even try to increase drag at times -- to increase oxygen uptake capacity or tolerance for lactic acid accumulation.

When you pursue a "shaping the vessel" paradigm in training, you give your attention first to refining your form in such a way that you require less oxygen uptake and produce less lactic acid at a given speed.

Given that the physical capacities of most USMS swimmers are declining over time, while the capacities of the USAS athletes coached by those Dr. Sharp was addressing are not, would it not make even more sense to Masters swimmers to favor a "shaping the vessel" paradigm?

So here's a question: In what ways would you train differently if you were to prioritize reducing the energy or work demand of your races, rather than increasing your work, power or energy capacity?

SwimStud
December 26th, 2006, 10:05 AM
Maybe as some what a "newb" I'd like to say I see a value in looking at both sides of the table, and although I may not be able to address all the finer points of the two somewhat opposing views, I try to utilse a little bit of everything to suit my goals.

I hadn't swam in 25 years until recently and I am only going 3x a week for about 45 minutes each. Once I "muscled" my way to a consistent mile and found a good motivational group here I started training to race, at least to take part--not expecting awards

I spend one session per week devoted to pretty much streamlining, and using minimal strokes (breast--crawl is just not happening right now lol). The best count I got was an 8 over 25 yards; that's at no pace, from a push off and just gliding at long as possible etc.

I was doing 11 or 12 strokes, at race tempo previously, but since working on style I have seen myself use only 9 strokes, so still room for improvement, but it is an advance.

I find that at higher speed it is easy to mistime motions or not be focusing on legs and arms equally, so that I become inefficient.
My near term goal is to meld both my effieciency and bodily strength to get a 25 to under 20 secs in the near future.

gull
December 26th, 2006, 10:39 AM
In this instance -- a sprint event -- those with sleeker "vessels" decisively outswam those with more powerful "engines."

Am I correct in assuming that by using the term "sleeker" you are taking into consideration stroke efficiency (which is a function of several variables, including but not limited to resistance)?

SwimStud
December 26th, 2006, 10:56 AM
Am I correct in assuming that by using the term "sleeker" you are taking into consideration stroke efficiency (which is a function of several variables, including but not limited to resistance)?

I would like to be a little sleeker. I'm not losing much weight but I've toned and packed some muscle, but I realise that I will need some weight loss to achieve maximum marine velocity :)

gull
December 26th, 2006, 11:01 AM
And were the finalists trained differently than the nonfinalists?

valhallan
December 26th, 2006, 11:23 AM
More from the letter:
"In a study of the mens 100 free finalists and non-finalists from the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Jane Cappaert observed that the finalists produced 16% LESS propulsive power on average than the non-finalists. If the finalists were swimming faster with less power than the non-finalists the reason must be that finalists didn't need high propulsive power to attain their race velocities."



I am curious. How can something like this be measured?

Was there any underwater camera observing grimaces versus smiley faces?

SwimStud
December 26th, 2006, 11:25 AM
I am curious. How can something like this be measured?

Was there any underwater camera observing grimaces versus smiley faces?

hehehe that's very funny :p

KaizenSwimmer
December 26th, 2006, 08:56 PM
Am I correct in assuming that by using the term "sleeker" you are taking into consideration stroke efficiency (which is a function of several variables, including but not limited to resistance)?

Rick Sharp didn't provide a great deal of info on the analysis they did. The gist of his message was that power correlated negatively with performance in this sample of swimmers...which infers that the most successful of them had figured out some way of reducing resistance relative to other swimmers. It's certainly an attention getting study by virtue of the its counterintuitive conclusion.

How did they measure? I imagine that, at some point during those Olympics, they tethered each 100m free entrant (and perhaps others as well) to a strain gauge and instructed them to swim briefly with maximum force, then recorded the highest reading on the gauge and later compared those readings with results in the event. I know they've done tests of this sort at several Olympic Trials I attended with athletes.

At the time this measure may have been of particular interest because a guy named Bob Prichard of Somax ??? from Marin County CA was claiming to significantly increase the stroking power of swimmers with a treatment he called "microfiber reduction." He also claimed primary credit for Matt Biondi's performances from 88-92, when Nort and Matt really deserved that credit.

This race was also Popov's "debut" on the world stage and he definitely was a protean great-vessel-modest-engine swimmer.

islandsox
December 26th, 2006, 10:14 PM
Your question: "So here's a question: In what ways would you train differently if you were to prioritize reducing the energy or work demand of your races, rather than increasing your work, power or energy capacity?"

is tough to answer because I do know that we need to work on both being efficient in the water, as well as developing aerobic/anerobic systems. But because I think you believe that being more efficient is the priority here and not training our energy systems to "get it in gear" as much as efficiency, I'll certainly give it a try.

I researched all the people you mentioned and took a look at their papers and it is always good to see other Ph.D's and their personal opinions. It is also confusing when people like Touissant and Coster have similar thoughts to efficiency in the water, but think propulsion is ever important in the quest to minimize drag, both water and wave, as well as a Japanese doctorate I read about. They even found large levels of drag at low speeds (2001). Many of these studies found that swimmers with a higher buoyancy (slightly higher in the water), minimized drag at greater levels.

We could differ back and forth all night to no one's benefit, but one thing that got my attention in my reading was this: performance determining factors in front crawl are: active drag forces, effective propulsion forces, propelling efficiency and power output. And the success of a swimmer is determinated by the ability to generate propulsive force while reducing forward motion (we agree here). Many swimmers have different stroking styles but the one common element of technique relating to high performance is the use of the arm and hand to generate or change lift forces, not body position (me=high; you=low).

I could go on and on as you could, but back to your question: I am in total agreement that the longer and sleeker a swimmer is, as long as they have high propulsive energy systems with that sleek swimming style, they will fare very well, probably better than well.

I suppose if I were to change my training from building my energy system to specifically that of being a skinny vessel, then I would have to incorporate more and more streamlining whenever the opportunity arose, but the one thing I do not do while I am swimming is constantly think about my stroke length, body balance or body rotation. I guess I have been doing this for so long, I just finallly do this automatically, when my brain goes into automatic, so does my swimming style, but this came after years of swimming. So, maybe I am finally swimming effectively without any thought to it whatsover.

This is a very good thread by the way.

Donna

Larry_55
December 26th, 2006, 11:21 PM
Although I am a novice swimmer in terms of technique and I have no studies or competition experience to pull from I do know this one thing. There are times during my workouts that my efficiency improves to the point where the movement through the water feels almost effortless. It is at these times that I feel "long" and "on top" in the water. I just wish that I could capture exactly what it is that I am doing at these points and continue to do it more consistently.

KaizenSwimmer
December 27th, 2006, 07:52 AM
one thing that got my attention in my reading was this: performance determining factors in front crawl are: active drag forces, effective propulsion forces, propelling efficiency and power output.

I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I think either propulsion or conditioning are unimportant. But as Rick Sharp noted in his letter, 95% of coaches' and swimmers' attention has been to those aspects of swimming. Both of us are seeking to promote more balance in how people think about swimming.

I DO believe that drag reduction is more important and yields potentially greater benefit -- therefore we should consider it first. As well, if you've not been thinking much about it, your greatest returns should be from efforts to improve on it.

My most powerful coaching insight occurred in Sept 1978. I had just begun coaching a team in Richmond VA that trained in a 50m pool with an underwater window on the side wall near the deep end. In my first week I climbed down to watch a set and was immediately stunned by something I'd never noticed from the deck in six years of coaching.

Those who were well streamlined carried amazing speed on pushoffs -- and slowed down strikingly as soon as they began pulling and kicking. And, those who streamlined only a bit less well looked as if they ran into a wall so dramatically did they lose speed.

Instantly I sensed that all my hours of meticulous and thoughtful workout planning might impact my swimmers' performance less than teaching them how to streamline all the way down the pool. From that point I added a new element to my coaching, looking for and trying to correct the most obvious instances of "flabby" bodylines and positions. I can't say for sure that deserves most of the credit (I believe that being able to train swimmers every day in LCM was also a huge advantage) but that year was by far the best I'd ever had in achieving total team improvement -- sprinters to distance swimmers and all strokes.

My efforts to teach active streamlining were relatively primitive at the time but gradually refined over the next 10 years simply by trial and error. I got another boost in understanding when I met Boomer in 1988 and gained a better foundation and rationale to guide my efforts. Stopped coaching teams and began teaching adults in camps, etc in 89 and had a laboratory for refining those ideas still more.

islandsox
December 27th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Although I am a novice swimmer in terms of technique and I have no studies or competition experience to pull from I do know this one thing. There are times during my workouts that my efficiency improves to the point where the movement through the water feels almost effortless. It is at these times that I feel "long" and "on top" in the water. I just wish that I could capture exactly what it is that I am doing at these points and continue to do it more consistently.

Larry, that "feel" you experience is most of the battle in discovering what swimming for you should be. When one starts feeling like swimming is effortless plus feels powerful, you are well on your way and I do believe in efficiency in the water, it is primary for that is my goal every time I get in the water. And the developing of a energy system to keep you efficient, well, there you have it. Even though I have spent most of my life in water, and I know what is more correct for me than not, it sure is of benefit to have another "pair of eyes" taking a look at what us swimmers are doing. Wish I had someone watching me from time-to-time.

Cheers!
Donna

The Fortress
December 27th, 2006, 09:36 AM
I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I think either propulsion or conditioning are unimportant. But as Rick Sharp noted in his letter, 95% of coaches' and swimmers' attention has been to those aspects of swimming. Both of us are seeking to promote more balance in how people think about swimming.

What do you think is the correct ratio? Given limits on my own training time, I was going to respond to your initial question by saying I'd probably eliminate many endurance sets and focus on streamlining and drills even more. I actually think, relecting over the time I've been a masters and all the workouts I've done (otherwise, I'm at 100% vessel shaping right now), that I'm probably close to 50/50 or 60/40 (vessel to endurance). Which group do SDKs go in? Vessel shaping?

SolarEnergy
December 27th, 2006, 09:37 AM
More from the letter:
"In a study of the mens 100 free finalists and non-finalists from the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Jane Cappaert observed that the finalists produced 16% LESS propulsive power on average than the non-finalists. If the finalists were swimming faster with less power than the non-finalists the reason must be that finalists didn't need high propulsive power to attain their race velocities." I don't believe the findings of this study. I'm really sorry.

Is it possible to see the data?


More from the letter:
"...although we have concentrated on generating lots of propulsive power, evidence suggests the opposite approach may deserve a great deal more attention." I don't see the point in opposing these two views.
What about working at improving the "engine" metabolic efficiency while improving the "vessel" hydrodynamic's efficiency.


"Increasing distance per stroke by an average of 12% decreased the oxygen uptake by 9% and decreased blood lactate concentration by 20% when swimming at the same speed. Clearly there can be great payoffs from small reductions of resistance." I don't believe this to be true in all contexts.


Given that the physical capacities of most USMS swimmers are declining over time, while the capacities of the USAS athletes coached by those Dr. Sharp was addressing are not, would it not make even more sense to Masters swimmers to favor a "shaping the vessel" paradigm? I think so yes, at the Master level.


So here's a question: In what ways would you train differently if you were to prioritize reducing the energy or work demand of your races, rather than increasing your work, power or energy capacity? Again, opposing these principles sets the table for a hot debate, but I don't see the point really. I don't think we should choose between meat, or potato.

Rice or potato maybe, but again. Why not both?

The Fortress
December 27th, 2006, 09:49 AM
I don't see the point in opposing these two views.
What about working at improving the "engine" metabolic efficiency while improving the "vessel" hydrodynamic's efficiency.

Again, opposing these principles sets the table for a hot debate, but I don't see the point really. I don't think we should choose between meat, or potato.

Rice or potato maybe, but again. Why not both?

Good point as always, Solar. I think a similar point was raised on another thread that prompted Terry to start this thread. A poster asked if you couldn't simultaneously "build your engine" and also work on efficient technique.

I think Terry may be right that the latter is underemphasized. Although I do see USS kids doing a lot of drills as well as conditioning. That's why I asked my ratio question. Now I'm wondering, in addition, however, if the ratio should be different for USS swimmers as opposed to masters swimmers? If so, I wonder whether it promotes overall health when the masters swimmer trade off conditioning to become speedier vessels in swimming? As a general health matter, doesn't the heart, etc. need a little conditioning?

What happens if you're a vegetarian Solar?

SolarEnergy
December 27th, 2006, 10:02 AM
What happens if you're a vegetarian Solar? You'll have better buoyancy I think. A carrot floats better than a TBone right :)

SwimStud
December 27th, 2006, 10:06 AM
You'll have better buoyancy I think. A carrot floats better than a TBone right :)

Not if you use the really thick gravy...:rofl:

Jesting aside. I have been working on streamlining and also got a pair of jammers from Santa. I actually felt more streamlilne with them on, which is the idea partly I guess.

In sum it all helped to improve my times, and feel.

geochuck
December 27th, 2006, 11:10 AM
The big tall guys can not swim like the shorter guys for sure. Bigger guys are prone to injury if they swim like the little guys so they must change the way they swim. There really is no one way to swim. The vessel cannot be the same for everyone.

knelson
December 27th, 2006, 12:43 PM
I think this is an interesting topic. It certainly seems like the easiest way to improve speed would be to reduce drag rather than to increase propulsion.

Here's one thought on training differently based on this. As another poster mentioned, there are times when your stroke feels almost effortless. I think especially for distance swimmers this is what we strive for in races. We know the longer into a race we can keep this feeling the better. Now part of this is conditioning, but another part is drag reduction. Feeling "long and smooth" is just a mnemonic for swimming with the least drag possible. So maybe in training we should try to maintain this feeling even if it means sloing down. In a hard training set we usually get to a point where our stroke breaks down and we just try to bull through the rest of the set however we can. This usually means looking ugly in the water. Maybe when we get to the point where our stroke breaks down it would be better to slow down to the point where we can maintain a smooth stroke instead, even if it means you'll miss the send off or get passed by other swimmers.

Rich Abrahams
December 27th, 2006, 04:04 PM
I have a few observations about the current topic.

I recently conducted a workshop at my health club for lapswimers and triathletes ( I guess I'm now a pro 'cause they gave me 5 guest passes and a free month's dues). I broke down how to improving ones swimming into 4 main catagories ( prioritizing what gave you the biggest bang for the buck).

First was avoiding the resistance of the water as you move through it. I used the example of the hand out a car window and how this resistance increases with speed and is affected by adjusting the hand's position. I also mentioned that water is nearly 1,000 times denser than air, so reducing resistannce was job # 1.

Second is the efficient application of force to create propulsion. It is just as possible that less powerful swimmers (1992 Olympic example) can go faster than more powerful ones because of this factor. It is not just a function of lower resistance. It also may be because they can work at a higher percentage of maximum energy output. I know that in marathon running the top people don't always have the greatest aerobic capicity, they can just work at a greater percentage of their maximum. To some extent this may be affected by genetics and not just training..

Third was getting in better condition. Depending on your event, that can mean very different things.

And finally, I felt the least efficient means to going faster was becoming stronger/more powerful. This coming from someone who is totally committed to intense cross training, especially athletic power training.

A lot of people like to concentrate on the least efficient two because this is where you get the endorphin high. I know I'm addicted. But I defintitely work on the first two every workout. There is nothing like that feeling of "free speed".

Anyway, just my two cents worth.

valhallan
December 27th, 2006, 06:50 PM
Terry,

I was working with the younger kids at today's practice which is a nice change from the older group (the engine building group.) That said...after they finished up, one of the other coaches asked how it went. I explained that we took more time out to work on mechanics and technique nuances.

I briefly commented about the importance of "shaping the vessel" before "building the engine." The point was well taken. And quite frankly it's very true.

Swimming lots of yardage with poor technique is pointless. It's much better to reinforce proper stroke mechanics (while maintaining a level of fitness)...versus grinding out lap after lap with the primary intention being 'no pain no gain'.

Thanks for brining up an interesting thread.

islandsox
December 27th, 2006, 08:52 PM
This is getting more interesting and more intriguing the more that is written here. It seems pretty obvious that most are in agreement that shaping the vessel (elongating the body, body balance, stroke mechanics) are first and foremost before, or at least, during the developing of energy systems. This does make good, solid sense to me. Because without these stroking techniques, the excess yardage would be in vain; i.e., erratic, quick swimming to a point. When a poor swimmer comes to me because they need to swim that 400 yd scuba diving test swim, they need help and fast. And the one constant thing I see is very poor technique: massive kick, arms flailing about, breathing about every 10 strokes, legs coming out of the water, gasping for air, extreme body movement, and the list goes on. Once they are explained that swimming quietly is the best way to meet their goals, and they try it, they improve. Once they understand and actually experience that "spinning their wheels" doesn't get them to point B any faster, they listen up.

I wish I was a carrot as Solar mentioned, but I am now a barge--my body-- because I have not the discipline to change its makeup, so I really have to apply the mechanics of stroke that I learned years ago, and as I progressed to the swimmer I am today.

One of my questions is this: what exactly does minimize drag? Does anyone truly know this answer? I know that many think certain things can be done (streamlining, etc.), but I have yet to see concrete answers about this. And now, I am thinking it can be no one specific thing for a specific person; it probably is many things.

But I think for all those people out there who are coaching younger people that elongating their bodies and strokes, making the most of each stroke, proper breathing timing, focusing on streamlining, are well on their way to developing some great swimmers. But yardage and propulsion and intensity have to play a role when their strokes are best developed.

And, I just wonder how new all of this really is? I had heard of these things long ago. And I am not sure that "studies" are the answer, might it not be common sense to a degree?

Cheers,
Donna

MikeGarr
December 27th, 2006, 09:45 PM
I came to swimming about nine years ago, and been watching my kids swim for a little longer. I first noticed the huge difference between elite swimmers and all others was their fantastic efficiency. Yet I consistently see workouts from folks who outlast me in the pool (mostly endurance tris) fail them miserably when they try a swim meet against experienced, constantly streamlining swimmers. I get the most pleasure out of distance per stroke. I also love working out easily on my own and trying to use feedback to figure out how to get the most out of each stroke and kick. My kick sets continuously improve, with less effort. I still have a long way to go. I am convinced this approach is the only way I will stay swimming without injury as my age advances.

The fastest are not only strong; they are always smooth, but if they got even smoother they might be faster longer.

Cheers.
:blah::blah::blah:

knelson
December 27th, 2006, 09:55 PM
One of my questions is this: what exactly does minimize drag? Does anyone truly know this answer? I know that many think certain things can be done (streamlining, etc.), but I have yet to see concrete answers about this.

I think the short answer is to minimize the cross-section the water "sees." I guess a way to look at this is to swim through the smallest hole possible. The streamlined position off the wall is the best we can do. Unofortunately we must break out of this perfect position to propel ourselves, but even then we should strive to stay as "streamlined" as possible.

islandsox
December 27th, 2006, 10:28 PM
George: I am in agreement with you that different bodies require different things. Some require different methods for the end result within guidelines that help all. My age and weight have enlightened me here. I just want to swim well into my 60s without injury, but to enjoy improving my last year's times as long as I can. And I am ready to throw out the studies because they won't help me in the last years of my life; my common sense and the stroke mechanics, and my constant "feel" for the water will be the things I use to gauge my performance in the goals I set. I will not be blazing any trails from this point forward, but this is not my intent now. My intent is to continue to move forward in the water and enjoy every single moment of it.

Knelson: Touche.

Donna

Allen Stark
December 27th, 2006, 11:43 PM
I was told the key for swimming is "swim like a stick,turn like a ball." This means that when you are swimming you want to be as long and straight as possible. To swim fast you need power,conditioning and technique,but without technique,power and endurance are of little use. Technique means minimizing drag and maximizing propulsive efficiency. Minimizing drag means streamlining at all phases of the stroke. Maximizing propulsion means getting the largest propulsive surfaces possible perpedicular to the direction of thrust while gripping still water. How important is efficiecy? Lets say you are 10% better conditioned than I am and that our 100 breast time is the same. Now lets say I take 78 strokes for 200 LCM and you take 108. I doubt your conditioning will beat my efficiency(unless your Jim Clemmons.)I think it is important in shaping the vessel to do so in a way that maximizes propulsive efficiency.

KaizenSwimmer
December 27th, 2006, 11:45 PM
I don't believe the findings of this study. I'm really sorry.

Is it possible to see the data?

If you're skeptical, take it up with Rick Sharp. I was quoting his letter to Nort Thornton.
Or perhaps take it up with Jane Cappaert who conducted the study. She was head of biomechanics research for USAS during the 90s. Not sure where either is working now.

KaizenSwimmer
December 27th, 2006, 11:49 PM
What do you think is the correct ratio?

There's not a simple answer. I spent 11 years working almost exclusively on drag reduction, and never ran out of opportunity to improve. Since 2000 I've focused more on propulsion and have improved steadily during that time as well. I can now work on it in a more integrated way.

KaizenSwimmer
December 27th, 2006, 11:57 PM
And, I just wonder how new all of this really is? I had heard of these things long ago. And I am not sure that "studies" are the answer, might it not be common sense to a degree?

No one said it was new. Howard Firby was advocating drag reduction as the first priority 30 years ago...but few people took it to heart.

If drag reduction is/was common sense, 95% of people's energy/attention would not have been devoted to engine-building as Sharp accurately related.

There's more balance now than 10 years ago, but full balance? I don't think so. Watch any group of lap swimmers, what equipment they use, what activities they pursue. Likewise the great majority of age group and HS and college and Masters teams. Engine building still gets far more attention.

KaizenSwimmer
December 28th, 2006, 12:02 AM
I think it is important in shaping the vessel to do so in a way that maximizes propulsive efficiency.

Absolutely true and here's an example: In Breaststroke, keeping the head in a neutral position for as much of the stroke cycle as possible (e.g. as you outsweep at the beginning of the stroke) reduces drag. But keeping the head in a neutral position also allows you to make far better use of core power in propulsion and helps you channel the momentum produced by the head's 10-lb mass forward, sted of up/down.

It's not an either/or proposition. Good "eliminating" skills also improve your "creating" mechanics.

Allen Stark
December 28th, 2006, 01:52 AM
I didn't mean to imply it was either or,just to be mindful of both.

KaizenSwimmer
December 28th, 2006, 07:57 AM
I didn't mean to imply it was either or,just to be mindful of both.

I completely understood that you see it as an integrated pursuit, so I provided a supporting example of what you posted. Questions posted by others suggested to me that many view eliminating/creating as an either/or proposition.

In fact, it may be more evident in Breaststroke that you can't separate vessel-shaping from engine-building skills.

Here's another example. As Wayne McCauley's excellent articles have noted, the world's best breaststrokers maintain a streamlined, submerged position longer in each stroke cycle than slower swimmers. When I teach breaststroke I tell my students that "Getting into a long, streamlined position should be at the core of your 'value system' for the stroke and all decisions about pulling, breathing and kick should be centered on helping you return to streamline more quickly and easily."

That premise is 100% vessel-shaping and it's the starting point for all my instruction in Breast. However, as I tell them at a later point in instruction, the effort to stay "long" for as long as possible in each stroke cycle -- and to move as return as quickly as possible to that position as soon as you do anything that shortens your body -- is also instrumental in providing economical power during the propulsive phase. I.E. Engine building.

It works like this. When your bodyline goes from quite long to shorter -- as your hands spin back and in on the insweep, at the same moment your knees "crack" on leg recovery -- it has the effect of accelerating your hips forward something like cracking a whip or snapping a towel. This sudden surge of power -- provided more by body mechanics than effort -- is what gives a "catlike" quality to the pull, kick and lunge of great breaststrokers.

And the fact that these elite swimmers spend so much of the stroke cycle in a "non-working" phase, while the "working" phase of the stroke happens so quickly, helps keep their heart rate down, allowing them to maintain pace more effectively and finish races more strongly than those whose strokes are shorter and higher tempo. Compare the technique of a Brendan Hansen to the average person swimming breast during a lap session at your local pool -- pull-kick-pull-kick-pull-kick. For them the instinct is "you move forward by pulling and kicking" rather than to stay streamlined and submerged for as long as possible. Consequently their stroke has no resting phase and they're exhausted after a lap or two.

When teaching folks like that a more effective way to swim, I explain that they should always focus first on the "vessel-shaping" aspects (i.e. streamlining) of that dynamic mainly because
1) it's more important overall, and
2) you tend to rely on gross-motor skills in vessel-shaping, while finer motor skills come to the fore in "creating propulsion."

It's a universal principle of skills acquisition that gross motor aspects should be viewed as the foundation. Finer motor skills will become easier to master as your kinesthetic awareness increases.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 08:14 AM
Yike,

I don't know of a single coach who doesn't realize the value of steamlining. However, the sleekest vessel without an effective propulsive mechanism is but a sleek and slow vessel. Swimmers and coaches must continue to reduce drag by improving and tweaking body positions. Speed is a component of many things working together; propulsion from the pull and kick, streamlining to reduce drag, cardiovascular and muscular strength, psychological factors, training strategies, and many other nuances. The fact remains that a swimmer must focus on their weaknesses and prioritize from that list, what they should be working on.

If you're not working on trying to improve upon pain tolerance and cardiovascular thresholds, they you should be working on something (one at a time) that will help them get faster. Streamlining may be one of them but propulsion cannot and should not be overlooked.

I cannot find a coach who's been coaching successful swimmers, who doesn't try to improve the Early Vertical Forearm position (Catch) of their swimmers. The ability to improve (even slightly) upon the variance of an EVF, a late vertical forearm, or the speed stopper the "dropped elbow" will improve any swimmer's speed.

No coach worth their weight will stop emphasizing streamlining nor should they ignore the critical importance of improving a swimmer's EVF. These components responsible for swimming speed cannot be separated and should not be separated.

Training Smarter and not just harder should be every athlete's motto. Please take what you read from these threads with a grain of salt. Many great things can be found on this forum along with some junk. Good Luck, Coach T.

The Fortress
December 28th, 2006, 12:30 PM
[tomtopo;72154]Yike,

I don't know of a single coach who doesn't realize the value of steamlining. However, the sleekest vessel without an effective propulsive mechanism is but a sleek and slow vessel. Swimmers and coaches must continue to reduce drag by improving and tweaking body positions. Speed is a component of many things working together; propulsion from the pull and kick, streamlining to reduce drag, cardiovascular and muscular strength, psychological factors, training strategies, and many other nuances. The fact remains that a swimmer must focus on their weaknesses and prioritize from that list, what they should be working on.

If you're not working on trying to improve upon pain tolerance and cardiovascular thresholds, they you should be working on something (one at a time) that will help them get faster. Streamlining may be one of them but propulsion cannot and should not be overlooked.

I cannot find a coach who's been coaching successful swimmers, who doesn't try to improve the Early Vertical Forearm position (Catch) of their swimmers. The ability to improve (even slightly) upon the variance of an EVF, a late vertical forearm, or the speed stopper the "dropped elbow" will improve any swimmer's speed.

No coach worth their weight will stop emphasizing streamlining nor should they ignore the critical importance of improving a swimmer's EVF. These components responsible for swimming speed cannot be separated and should not be separated.

Training Smarter and not just harder should be every athlete's motto. Please take what you read from these threads with a grain of salt. Many great things can be found on this forum along with some junk. Good Luck, Coach T.[/quote]


Coach T:

A great post as usual. Maybe you can answer the question I tried to ask Terry. For a masters swimmer, what is the correct ratio or percentage of training time for "vessel" training vs. conditioning/endurance/propulsion training? What about for sprinters? Can this really be answered? Trying to avoid junk.

gull
December 28th, 2006, 03:39 PM
Here's an interesting link from the USA Swimming website:

http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=410&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en

The Fortress
December 28th, 2006, 04:54 PM
Thanks Gull. I looked quickly, particularly at the women. I see Brook Bennett was doing a fair amount of strength/core training and drylands. Her coach attributes some of her achievements/improvment to increases in various types of strength. And Misty Hyman was training a lot with a monofin and a dorkle. She was using that monofin 5-6 times per week for up to 1200 meters to help with underwater work. Can't wait to try mine. Will read some more later ...

KaizenSwimmer
December 28th, 2006, 04:59 PM
If you're not working on trying to improve upon pain tolerance

I can't agree with this. I've had the privilege to ask a half dozen WR holders what the experience of setting a WR was like. None described experiencing any pain. In fact, just the opposite. They said those swims felt remarkably controlled. Aaron Peirsol said "When I hit the touchpad I felt like I could have just kept swimming like that."

If you're in pain during a swim, you've done something wrong and have probably blown your opportunity for a good swim.

I tell swimmers that you should experience sensation -- and possibly intense sensation -- when swimming near your red line. But if you're swimming your best that sensation should be a good one. This has certainly been the case for all the great swims I've been fortunate to have.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 05:07 PM
I like to avoid junk at all cost, and I know what you mean. Unless you're training to improve pain tolerance (there are a few times when that's important) you should be swimming with a well defined purpose. That doesn't mean you can't simply swim across a lake just for fun ( we all do stuff like that) but when you're training you should try to work on improving (just my opinion).

I tell swimmers to constantly work on streamlining (improving the vessel). I think you should dictate how much time you spent on streamlining according to two things: 1. How bad or how good do you think it is? If you struggle to get across the pool, it can't be too good. If your times are competitive, your streamlining can't be too terrible. So, the amount of time you spend on any specific component of swimming should be dictated by need. How's yours?
2. How well or how long can you concentrate? If you can concentrate a long time, working on one thing like streamlining, do it as long as you can or as long as you think you're be productive. Then go onto something else down the list.

Some components of swimming are harder to concentrate then others. I can work on streamlining off walls, on most turns. When it comes to concentrating on improving my EVF, it's more difficult for me because it's not an easy position to get into (the small muscles in my shoulder need more attention).

I think if you write down and prioritize what things will get you the most bang for your buck, you will develop a great training plan. Good luck, Coach T.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 05:16 PM
When I talk about improving pain tolerance I was speaking about improving Peak Lactate production and Alactate threshold (and if you talk about this type of training to swimmers, these training categories are synonymous with pain).

So I guess improving Lactate Tolerance is painful (not the "in the zone" type of feeling or euphoric), you know what I mean. And, improving that ability to cope with pain in a race is very important but, like I said, it's not something you try to work on everyday.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 05:28 PM
From Peak Performance
a Great article
('Effects of Training on Performance in Competitive Swimming,' Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 20(4), pp. 395-406, 1995)
Owen Anderso

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0028.htm


If you want to improve your performance times, turn up the intensity and turn down the volume.

When it comes right down to it, there are just three basic ways to make your training more difficult: you can increase your volume (the total distance you cover per workout), your frequency (the number of workouts you carry out each week), or your intensity (your average speed of movement while training)

The relative emphasis on these three variables tends to vary from sport to sport. In running, a traditional preference for high volume is gradually being eroded as athletes move to higher-quality (higher-intensity) work. On the other hand, competitive swimmers tend to be faithful disciples of high volume, believing that if they are currently swimming 6000 metres per day, they'll be much better if they navigate 7000 to 8000 daily metres or more. In fact, competitive collegiate swimmers in the United States often swim 10,000 metres or more each day, believing that such high quantities of work will produce peak performances. Not surprisingly, the frequency of overtraining in competitive swimmers tends to be very high, especially during heavy training periods before major competitions

Cut your volume in half
In addition to increasing the risk of overtraining, high-volume swim training also flies in the face of relevant research. For example, in a study carried out at Ball State University in the United States about five years ago, swimmers who doubled their training volume for a six-week period were unable to make any gains in aerobic or anaerobic capacity. In contrast, a separate piece of research (also carried out at Ball State) showed that swimmers who cut their volume roughly in half (from about 8750 metres per day to 4500 daily metres) were able to significantly improve swimming power and performance

Despite this research, the most unlikely candidates for mega-volume work - sprint swimmers who compete at either 100 or 200 metres - are often told by coaches to swim incredibly long distances, because it is believed that such training upgrades aerobic capacity dramatically and therefore shortens the recovery process (both between intervals and workouts), making difficult training easier to handle. Some coaches also believe that heavy-volume training upgrades gliding ability in the water, muscular coordination, and overall skill, leading to improved swimming - even in sprinters

But does high-volume training really offer the best pathway to swimming excellence? For swimmers who want to compete at 100 or 200 metres, the answer is assuredly no, according to new research from France which strongly suggests that such swimmers should focus on intensity. In the new study (carried out at the Universite Jean Monnet in Saint-Etienne), scientists studied 18 national- and international-level swimmers of comparable ability (10 males and eight females, average age 21) who had been swimming for about 12 years. Nine specialised in the 100-metre event, while the other nine preferred 200-metre racing

Scientists followed the swimmers over a full 44-week season. The swimmers usually trained twice a day and worked out at five different intensities: (1) lactate-threshold velocity (defined as the speed which produced a blood-lactate concentration of 4 mmol/litre, (2) slower than lactate-threshold velocity (producing a blood-lactate level of only 2 mmol/litre, (3) slightly higher than lactate-threshold velocity (yielding blood lactate of 6 mmol/litre, (4) highly lactic swimming (10 mmol/litre), and (5) maximal intensity sprint swimming. On average, swimmers covered 20 to 25 per cent of their total weekly training volume at intensities which were at or above lactate-threshold velocity. Improvements in performance made during the season were plotted as a function of intensity, volume, and frequency

High intensity wins
Over the course of the 44-week season, athletes who made the greatest improvements were the ones who swam with the highest average intensity. In contrast, there was no relationship between training volume and performance improvement (individuals who swam the most metres weren't the ones with the biggest performance gains), and there was also no link between training frequency and performance upgrades. Swimming faster during training - but not longer or more frequently - was associated with significant upswings in performance

When the French scientists also looked at whether tapering (reductions in training volume) could have a major impact on performance, they found that the most aggressive taperers were the ones with the biggest PB improvements. For example, those who cut back their training by about 15 per cent before big competitions improved their performances by 2 per cent on average. However, swimmers who trimmed volume by 25 per cent achieved 3- to 4-per cent gains, and the smartest taperers, who sliced training by 45 per cent for two weeks or so, soared upward by 5 per cent

The French scientists also took an interesting look at what happens to swimmers between competitive seasons. One group of swimmers had a rather sizeable, 10-per cent decline in performance between the best performance of the previous year and the initial competitive performance during the training year analysed by the French researchers. These individuals had done relatively little training during their eight-week layoff period, and none of them were able to establish new PBs during the subsequent season

How to train in the off-season
A second group slumped by only 6 per cent between seasons, primarily because they carried out more training during the off-season. All of these individuals (nine in all) set new PBs during the subsequent season, a fact which prompted the French scientists to recommend training at about 30 per cent of normal volume during the off-season. However, given the importance of intensity in determining overall fitness, a better recommendation would be to take several weeks off and then train intensely (but briefly) a couple of times per week during the off-season. Such a lay-off period would maximise recovery from strenuous training while minimising losses in fitness associated with detraining (in fact, a swimmer might emerge from such an off-season period with very little decrement in performance ability)

What's the bottom line from the French research? If you're a competitive swimmer looking to make breakthroughs in performance, dip into the intensity barrel before you wear out your shoulders with high-volume or high-frequency training. Workouts consisting of 30-second bursts at close to maximal swimming speed and two-minute accelerations at a velocity which you could sustain for no more than eight minutes can produce major gains in performance, whether you're a 200-metre swimmer or a longer-distance competitor. The idea is to gradually adjust your training so that it includes more such efforts (more intervals per workout, more interval workouts each month). In addition, tapering by 45 per cent or more for a couple of weeks before competitions can produce valuable upswings in competitive speed, and carrying out small quantities of razor-sharp training during the off-season can thwart detraining, permit appropriate recovery, and get you off to a great start during the subsequent season.

Allen Stark
December 28th, 2006, 05:34 PM
I thought Coach T was talking about lactic acid tolerance sets. I hate them because they don't feel good,but they are a challenge and I think are an important part of sprint training,at least for me. I try not to call them painful as I try to only use pain to describe the hurt when something is injured. I prefer to think of them as challenging. As to not feeling pain in a race,I think that is as much a matter of focus as anything. At our zone SCM championships in 1998 I hit the wall just wrong in the 50 breast dislocating my shoulder. I just took an extra instant to jerk it back in place and finished the race. With every stroke on the way back I could tell my right arm wasn't stroking right,but i wasn't aware of any pain until the race was over.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 05:36 PM
Lactate Acid and how it relates to training -- More information for you


The following journals and books contain more information on this topic:

* Peak Performance - Issues 13, 14, 15, 24, 27, 29, 41, 72, 73, 100 & 101, 112, 113, 121, 130, 151, 162, 173, 202, 209, 219
* The Coach - Issues 3, 17, 27
* BMC News - Vol 3 Issue 12
* Advanced PE for Edexcel - F Galligan et al - page 385
* Essentials of Exercise Physiology (2nd Edition) - W.D. McArdle et al - page 108
* Principals of Anatomy and Physiology (6th Edition) - G. J. Tortora & N. P. Anagnostakos - page 241
* Disposal of Lactate during and after Strenuous Exercise in Humans, Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 61(1), pp338-343, 1986




The expression "lactic acid" is used most commonly by athletes to describe the intense pain felt during exhaustive exercise, especially in events like the 400 metres and 800 metres. When energy is required to perform exercise it is supplied from the breakdown of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The body has a limited store of about 85 grms of ATP and would use it up very quickly if we did not have ways of resynthesising it. There are three systems that produce energy to resynthesise ATP: ATP-PC, lactic acid and aerobic.

The lactic acid system is capable of releasing energy to resynthesise ATP without the involvement of oxygen and is called anaerobic glycolysis. Glycolysis (breakdown of carbohydrates) results in the formation of pyruvic acid and hydrogen ions (H+). A build up of H+ will make the muscle cells acidic and interfere with their operation so carrier molecules, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), remove the H+. The NAD+ is reduced to NADH which deposit the H+ at the electron transport gate (ETC) in the mitrochondria to be combined with oxygen to form water (H2O).

If there is insufficient oxygen then NADH cannot release the H+ and they build up in the cell. To prevent the rise in acidity pyruvic acid accepts H+ forming lactic acid which then dissociates into lactate and H+. Some of the lactate diffuses into the blood stream and takes some H+ with it as a way of reducing the H+ concentration in the muscle cell. The normal pH of the muscle cell is 7.1 but if the build up of H+ continues and pH is reduced to around 6.5 then muscle contraction may be impaired and the low pH will stimulate the free nerve endings in the muscle resulting in the perception of pain (the burn). This point is often measured as the lactic threshold or anaerobic threshold or onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA).

The process of lactic acid removal takes approx. one hour, but this can be accelerated by undertaking an appropriate warm down which ensures a rapid and continuous supply of oxygen to the muscles.

The normal amount of lactic acid circulating in the blood is about 1 to 2 millimoles/litre of blood. The onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) occurs between 2 and 4 millimoles/litre of blood. In non athletes this point is about 50% to 60% VO2 max and in trained athletes around 70% to 80% VO2 max.
Lactic acid - friend or foe?

Lactic acid (lactate) is not:

* responsible for the burn in the leg muscles when exercising very fast
* responsible for the soreness you experience in the 48 hours following a hard session
* a waste product

Lactate, which is produced by the body all day long, is resynthesized by the liver (Cori Cycle) to form glucose which provides you with more energy. Sounds like a friend to me.
Lactate Shuttle

The lactate shuttle involves the following series of events:

* As we exercise pyruvate is formed
* When insufficient oxygen is available to breakdown the pyruvate then lactate is produced
* Lactate enters the surrounding muscle cells, tissue and blood
* The muscle cells and tissues receiving the lactate either breakdown the lactate to fuel (ATP) for immediate use or use it in the creation of glycogen
* The glycogen then remains in the cells until energy is required

65% of lactic acid is converted to carbon dioxide and water, 20% into glycogen, 10% into protein and 5% into glucose.
Hydrogen ions

The breakdown of glucose or glycogen produces lactate and hydrogen ions - for each lactate molecule, one hydrogen ion is formed. The presence of hydrogen ions, not lactate, makes the muscle acidic which will eventually halt muscle function. As hydrogen ion concentrations increase the blood and muscle become acidic. This acidic environment will slow down enzyme activity and ultimately the breakdown of glucose itself. Acidic muscles will aggravate associated nerve endings causing pain and increase irritation of the central nervous system. The athlete may become disorientated and feel nauseous.
Aerobic Capacity

Given that high levels of lactate/hydrogen ions will be detrimental to performance, one of the key reasons for endurance training is to enable the body to perform at a greater pace with a minimal amount of lactate. This can be done by long steady runs, which will develop the aerobic capacity by means of capillarisation (formation of more small blood vessels, thus enhancing oxygen transport to the muscles) and by creating greater efficiency in the heart and lungs. If the aerobic capacity is greater, it means there will be more oxygen available to the working muscles and this should delay the onset of lactic acid at a given work intensity.
Anaerobic Threshold

Lactic acid starts to accumulate in the muscles once you start operating above your anaerobic threshold. This is normally somewhere between 80% and 90% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) in trained athletes.
What a low Lactate Threshold means

If your lactate threshold (LT) is reached at low exercise intensity, it often means that the "oxidative energy systems" in your muscles are not working very well. If they were performing at a high level they would use oxygen to break lactate down to carbon dioxide and water, preventing lactate from pouring into the blood. If your LT is low it may mean that:

* you are not getting enough oxygen inside your muscle cells
* you do not have adequate concentrations of the enzymes necessary to oxidize pyruvate at high rates
* you do not have enough mitochondria in your muscle cells
* your muscles, heart, and other tissues are not very good at extracting lactate from the blood

Improving your Lactate Threshold

The aim is to saturate the muscles in lactic acid which will educate the body's buffering mechanism (alkaline) to deal with it more effectively. The accumulation of lactate in working skeletal muscles is associated with fatigue of this system after 50 to 60 seconds of maximal effort. Sessions should comprise of one to five reps (depends on the athlete's ability) with near to full recovery.

Training continuously at about 85 to 90% of your maximum heart rate for 20 to 25 minutes will improve your LT.

A session should be conducted once a week and commence eight weeks before a major competition. This will help the muscle cells retain their alkaline buffering ability. Improving your LT will also improve your tlimvVO2max.
Lactate Tolerance Training Sessions

The following table identifies some possible training sessions that can be used to improve your lactate tolerance:
Distance Pace Recovery Reps
150 metres 400 metres 90 seconds 3 x 3
300 metres 800 metres 2 minutes 6
150 metres 800 metres 45 seconds 12
150 metres 800 metres 20 seconds 2 x 4
300 metres 1000 metres 90 seconds 9

Sodium Bicarbonate

Energy production via anaerobic glycolysis, which is particularly important for events lasting between 30 seconds and 15 minutes, increases the acidity inside the muscle cells and very soon after does the same to the blood. It is this increase in acidity within the muscle cells that is a major factor in producing fatigue in such events. If there was some way to reduce the acidity within the muscle cells, one could theoretically delay fatigue and thus continue exercising at a very high intensity for longer.

Sodium bicarbonate is an alkalising agent and therefore reduces the acidity of the blood (known as a buffering action). By buffering acidity in the blood, bicarbonate may be able to draw more of the acid produced within the muscle cells out into the blood and thus reduce the level of acidity within the muscle cells themselves. This could delay the onset of fatigue.
Who might benefit?

The specific athletes who might stand to benefit from bicarb supplementation will typically compete in events that last between one and seven minutes, i.e. 400 metres to 1500 metres running, 100 metres to 400 metres swimming, most rowing competitions, and many team sports with their repeated nature of high intensity exercise which stresses the anaerobic glycolysis system significantly and produces a lot of acidity.
A practical approach

Before using either bicarbonate, it is wise to check with the governing body of your sport that the substance is not contrary to doping regulations. The most important practical point is the need to experiment with the supplement during training. Typically, an 800 metre runner, may perform a time trial on a particular day after a couple of days of light training. A further couple of days later, after only more light training, he/she can repeat the time trial in a similar environment after bicarbonate supplementation. The exact protocol would be to ingest 0.3 grms of sodium bicarbonate per kg body weight approximately one to two hours before the time trial. That is, for a 66kg runner, consume 20 grms of sodium bicarbonate (about four teaspoons) and, yes, the commonly found bicarb of soda is exactly the substance needed. This experimenting, if repeated several times, should reveal whether bicarb supplementation is likely to produce any benefit and whether the athlete concerned is susceptible to any side effects.

It is likely that large individual differences do exist as far as response to supplementation is concerned. It has been suggested that the more highly trained athletes are less likely to benefit from it because their body's natural buffering systems are already so well developed, but so far this is just speculation. It has also been shown that sprinters build up more acidity within their muscles than endurance runners in response to the same exercise, and so may be more likely to benefit from the buffering effect. From the scientific research, it appears that the size of the dose is quite important, and that taking only 0.2 grms per kg is less likely to be beneficial than 0.3 grms per kg, although no evidence exists suggesting that an even greater dose is better still.

Side effects

As for the side-effects, these may take the form of pain, cramping, diarrhoea or a feeling of being bloated. Drinking up to a litre of water with the dose is often effective and should be carried out as standard. Breaking up the bicarbonate dose into, say, four equal portions taken over the course of an hour may also help.

There are potential side effects to taking higher than normal levels of Sodium Bicarbonate so consult with your doctor first.

The Fortress
December 28th, 2006, 05:44 PM
If you're in pain during a swim, you've done something wrong and have probably blown your opportunity for a good swim.

Very iconoclastic, but I can't agree with this.

Endurance sports involve pain and pain threshholds.

Now, I will agree that swimming a 50 in a meet is not painful, but other than that most events or practices are "painful" or "challenging" or "fatiguing" for me. Of course, you can be "in the zone" while swimming a great race, but you're usually in pain and exhausted during and after. Maybe there's a better word than "pain" as Allen said, if you prefer to associate pain solely with injuries. Maybe you're just extremely fatigued, exhausted or uncomfortable with burning muscles after a hard race. That doesn't mean you've "blown" a race. I know some people think it can "hurt so good."

A lot of people seem close to "blowing chow" in practice, according to the poll.

P.S. Coach T: Thanks for the post on high intensity training. I think I need to focus on that in the next year.

islandsox
December 28th, 2006, 06:24 PM
I think my vessel is just fine given its parameters; I have a low stroke rate with some speed, and I usually can maintain 12 strokes every 25 meters for a minimum of a mile. I'll figure out if I can do this when I approach the 5 mile and 10 mile mark; maybe I won't be able to, maybe I will.

So I think I will continue to "build my engine" so I can have the best of both worlds. Intensity sets on intervals; my 20ez strokes/20fast strokes until failure (great drill in open water); timed repeat 325's (beach to channel marker), and develop better health in the process. And use my Zoomer fins for back dolphin to increase core development and get some sun on my face at the same time. But I will pass on the hand paddles. And some underwater front dolphin work for my anaerobic system. And, of course, short sprinting sets to wake-me-up and help my body with lactic acid.

Sounds like a good plan for this particular swimmer. And I don't believe that always being comfortable during training will reap very many benefits when trying to apply oneself in a race. My best swim race I was so trashed afterwards, I could hardly get out of the pool; I considered this my best power swim ever. But a half-hour later, I was bouncing up and down. High-intensity training requires swimmers to pay a price of fatigue and exhaustion which some call pain. I think building the engine has benefits after a person has their stroke-style developed. And I don't think it should take years to develop a good streamline stroke; within 6 months, most people have achieved a better streamlining stroke if they had good coaching. High-intensity training is important and should never be overlooked.

Cheers,
Donna

ande
December 28th, 2006, 07:02 PM
You asked: "How would you train as a "Vessel Shaper?""

Swimming training is focused on making better engines rather than shaping better boats.

Improving the engine vs shaping the boat is a trade off

part of the better boat is making a better body for swimming,
the other part is using our bodies in the most streamlined fashions

each person has an ideal body shape that will allow them to swim the fastest they can swim
there is also an ideal technique to be the most streamlined

I used to think if you train hard, you'll swim fast
Then I'd see swimmers who I felt didn't train as hard as I did
swim faster in competition.

Right now I'm working on both
we'll see how it turns out

ande

geochuck
December 28th, 2006, 07:28 PM
I know that I can get all I want from minimal training, after all I only want to swim 50 and 100 free and fly. I will move my big vessel very carefully through the water and try not to make too much turbulance.

tomtopo
December 28th, 2006, 07:38 PM
To all the vessels out there, Happy Holidays and keep tug - tug -tugging along! God I love this sport!

The Fortress
December 28th, 2006, 08:06 PM
I used to think if you train hard, you'll swim fast
Then I'd see swimmers who I felt didn't train as hard as I did
swim faster in competition.

Right now I'm working on both
we'll see how it turns out

ande

As usual, great advice. I'll be building my combo "vessel engine" like a lot of people here.

SwimStud
December 28th, 2006, 08:40 PM
Since my grandfather was a stoker on the fastest ship in the Royal Navy in WWII...he'd probably tell me that a beautiful vessel needs some muscle and technique to move it well.

Caped Crusader
December 28th, 2006, 08:41 PM
There's not a simple answer. I spent 11 years working almost exclusively on drag reduction, and never ran out of opportunity to improve. Since 2000 I've focused more on propulsion and have improved steadily during that time as well. I can now work on it in a more integrated way.

Isn't it obvious you need to focus on both to become fast? You can't just mindfully shape your vessel. Beginning swimmers and young age groupers should focus on stroke mechanics as Valhallan was saying. But once they've got them down pretty well, it seems like the focus should shift to both "building an engine" and "shaping the vessel." In another thread, GoodSmith said that college coaches are becoming increasingly dismayed by the lack of "engines." If true, that suggests that more USS coaches are focusing on the vessel, not the engine, a problem you worry about. Bottom line: you need both. It seems like you, Terry, are faster since adding in endurance and propulsion rather than just focusing on drag reduction. Who knows? Maybe those dryland and weighs are helping too, even though you do them for health, not swimming. You can't really know unless you stop doing them for a long period and compare the results. Wanna try it?

KaizenSwimmer
December 29th, 2006, 07:23 AM
When I talk about improving pain tolerance I was speaking about improving Peak Lactate production and Alactate threshold

Of the two, the latter seems the far more beneficial. I'll repost a quote from my initial post on this thread, taken from a study cited by Rick Sharp, the former Performance Science director of US Swimming.

"Increasing distance per stroke by an average of 12% decreased the oxygen uptake by 9% and decreased blood lactate concentration by 20% when swimming at the same speed. Clearly there can be great payoffs from small reductions of resistance."

Since lactic acid is, after drag, perhaps the most prominent limiting factor in performance, it doesn't strike me that training to increase its production is a strategy with a great deal of upside. It seems more logical to me to train in ways that promise to allow me to swim faster without accumulating lactate.

One of the interesting observations that have come out regarding Michael Phelps is that his lactate levels after a WR performance are about 5 to 7 millimoles, approx half what is seen in many other swimmers after a similar effort. While analysis of that seemed to center on the possibility that he had some kind of unique physiology, I'm more inclined to credit the beautiful harmony of his movements. When many muscle groups work together that well any particular muscle group will be less taxed and therefore less likely to produce large volumes of lactate. And this impressive ability of his to not produce lactate is clearly critical to his ability to swim as many as three stunningly fast races in a single swim session -- as he's done while winning three events on one night at Nationals or has had to do a couple times at the Olympics.

Training to increase lactate production is clearly an "engine-building" or "creating" approach. Training to decrease its production -- at racing speeds -- is definitively a "vessel-shaping" or "eliminating" approach.

KaizenSwimmer
December 29th, 2006, 07:43 AM
But once they've got them down pretty well,

At what point can you be confident that has occurred, esp in young age groupers? I've been swimming 40 years and continue to make material improvements in my efficiency each year. I acknowledge that I'm a slow learner, but I also think it has a lot to do with the limiting factor of "human DNA." I've seen estimates that even elite swimmers max out around 9% mechanical efficiency (percent of calories that translate directly into forward propulsion, as opposed to those lost to resistance, heat, wavemaking, instability and turbulence, poor traction, etc.)

Given that what can we suppose the mechanical efficiency of the typical young age grouper might be? Dave and I are working with about 80 of them now. There are only a handful whose efficiency -- and particularly their ability to maintain same at race speeds and for nearly full race distance -- is not far short of what I think they're capable of.

Thing is, their engines are being developed simply by virtue of the fact of their moving up and down the pool, rather than playing video games, some three to six hours a week No matter how much focus we put on vessel shaping, conditioning still "happens." The reverse (i.e. when the primary emphasis is on how many, how hard, what HR, produce lactate) is hardly ever true -- the way they swim when left to their own devices and instincts makes that clear.

Look back over all the posts. The question posed was "how would you train as a vessel shaper?" How many responses gave even a single specific strategy or stroke adjustment for doing that, among the many ardent "defenses" of the importance of engine building. Certainly seems to me as if engine-building has a powerful grasp on the public psyche.

gull
December 29th, 2006, 07:54 AM
Of the two, the latter seems the far more beneficial. I'll repost a quote from my initial post on this thread, taken from a study cited by Rick Sharp, the former Performance Science director of US Swimming.

"Increasing distance per stroke by an average of 12% decreased the oxygen uptake by 9% and decreased blood lactate concentration by 20% when swimming at the same speed. Clearly there can be great payoffs from small reductions of resistance."

Since lactic acid is, after drag, perhaps the most prominent limiting factor in performance, it doesn't strike me that training to increase its production is a strategy with a great deal of upside. It seems more logical to me to train in ways that promise to allow me to swim faster without accumulating lactate.

One of the interesting observations that have come out regarding Michael Phelps is that his lactate levels after a WR performance are about 5 to 7 millimoles, approx half what is seen in many other swimmers after a similar effort. While analysis of that seemed to center on the possibility that he had some kind of unique physiology, I'm more inclined to credit the beautiful harmony of his movements. When many muscle groups work together that well any particular muscle group will be less taxed and therefore less likely to produce large volumes of lactate. And this impressive ability of his to not produce lactate is clearly critical to his ability to swim as many as three stunningly fast races in a single swim session -- as he's done while winning three events on one night at Nationals or has had to do a couple times at the Olympics.

Training to increase lactate production is clearly an "engine-building" or "creating" approach. Training to decrease its production -- at racing speeds -- is definitively a "vessel-shaping" or "eliminating" approach.

Great post, Terry--probably one of the better posts I've read here. You know, I once saw Denton Cooley operate and what struck me was his efficiency of movement. No wasted effort, which made him very fast in the operating room.

SolarEnergy
December 29th, 2006, 08:04 AM
If you're skeptical, take it up with Rick Sharp. I was quoting his letter to Nort Thornton.
Or perhaps take it up with Jane Cappaert who conducted the study. She was head of biomechanics research for USAS during the 90s. Not sure where either is working now. Would you happen to have Jane's email address?

**edit**
I found it. Thanks.

KaizenSwimmer
December 29th, 2006, 08:05 AM
As to not feeling pain in a race,I think that is as much a matter of focus as anything. <snip> I could tell my right arm wasn't stroking right,but i wasn't aware of any pain until the race was over.

Allen has hit on the heart of the matter as I experience it in my own swimming, and what has become a core principle of my coaching.

When I see t-shirts with slogans like "Pain Torture Agony" and "What does not kill me makes me stronger" I see a sport that seems to believe that character-formation through endurance of pain is more important than neural programming. Lactate Tolerance sets may be Exhibit A of that philosophy. (I also see a sport with a stunningly shortsighted marketing strategy -- fortunately not the case in Masters.)

In Lactate Tolerance sets, the instruction often given is "swim til it hurts." In the sets I do with Dave Barra, the instruction or emphasis is to execute one or more exacting movements at the highest movement rate possible (and usually to swim at a given SPL) without degrading the movement (or letting the SPL increase unless you choose to increase it.)

Lactate is certainly "produced" at some point in those sets but the unblinking concentration required to execute the neural instructions is so overtaking that we never experience "pain." Sensation -- indeed intense sensation -- is present at some point but at the outer peripheries of consciousness. And if you're executing skilled movement at the knife edge of your capacity, the whole experience feels so good that you'd never describe any aspect of it as pain. In fact a better description is "Flow Experience."

The way WR holders have described the experience of setting a WR to me sounds so similar to the way flow experiences are described that I began to wonder whether those of us not sufficiently gifted to set a WR would not have a far better chance of achieving OUR OWN peak potential by training to experience flow states, rather than training to experience pain.

KaizenSwimmer
December 29th, 2006, 08:16 AM
I once saw Denton Cooley operate and what struck me was his efficiency of movement.

And what clearly accompanies that is the kind of concentration likely to produce a Flow State. I'd bet if he was interviewed he'd describe his experience while in surgery in exactly the same terms used in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's books on Flow.

I understand that open heart surgery can sometimes last four, six or even 8 hours. Clearly a kind of physical endurance is required. But for something where one's technique is that exacting, mental endurance would be far more important.

My goal is for my races to be more "surgical" in nature, and not labored or painful. That is only a likely outcome if I devote myself in training to replicating that kind of experience.

What makes it so impressive in Cooley's case is that I expect most of his "practice" amounts to the surgical equivalent of "racing." It's virtually always life and death at his stage of "medical mastery" rather than practicing on cadavers.

islandsox
December 29th, 2006, 08:52 AM
Look back over all the posts. The question posed was "how would you train as a vessel shaper?" How many responses gave even a single specific strategy or stroke adjustment for doing that, among the many ardent "defenses" of the importance of engine building. Certainly seems to me as if engine-building has a powerful grasp on the public psyche.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess: You? It could be very possible that many here have already trained their vessel and are conscious of making those body and stroking motions needed to minimize their drag every time they swim. So this may be, in part, why they were leaning toward better conditioning and its importance rather than explaining a step-by-step process of how they trained their vessel.

I want my vessel to travel quickly with minimum effort but great performance, and this just simply cannot be achieved by only vessel training. High-intensity trainining just works regardless of any study; ask any elite swimmer, they got that way due to body design, stroke mechanics, and power work. It is a combination package. It's fine to try to change everyone's minds on this topic, but results, again, always speak volumes for a person's inane ideas. I don't believe in useless excess yardage, but I believe in quality yardage and this is body/stroke mechanics and intensity training and interval work. It works even if you may not agree that it does.

But I do think that given what you have written here about vessel training, I have found a place for your thinking. I think it would be best suited to long distance Open Water.

Cheers,
Donna

chaos
December 29th, 2006, 09:07 AM
Two quick examples that I think address the question posed:

One: match speed with the person swimming next to me while maintaining a lower stroke rate (this is more challanging on fast sets).

Two: always try to "win" the turn without excessive kicking. (try to give the other guy 2 strokes before I break out)

Example One is a great way to do a long continuous o.w. swim (one shouldn't read this as slow)

KaizenSwimmer
December 29th, 2006, 09:09 AM
this is body/stroke mechanics and intensity training and interval work. It works even if you may not agree that it does.

Did I suggest any disagreement with that at any point?

Leonard Jansen
December 29th, 2006, 09:23 AM
If you're skeptical, take it up with Rick Sharp. I was quoting his letter to Nort Thornton.
Or perhaps take it up with Jane Cappaert who conducted the study. She was head of biomechanics research for USAS during the 90s. Not sure where either is working now.

I knew Jane fairly well - both when she was an intern at the USOC and then later when she worked for USS. She was a solid researcher and very nice person. I have no doubt that whatever research she produced was of high quality - not the same as saying it was accurate, but I have no doubt she did a fine job.

However... there was a time when the person (no names mentioned, but emphatically not Jane) who was head of the USS sport research program had a MOST dubious reputation among those in the know due to alleged data fudging in that program. Said person later "left to find other opportunities." Unfortunately, it left a large black mark on any studies that came out of the program at that time, due to suspicion that said person fudged other's data as well.

Unfortunately, some of the backwash from this carries over to the more legit people and their studies. That said, I'd trust Jane with my life, but I wouldn't even look at any studies from USS from that period due to the doubt that "X" had a hand in the study in any way, shape, or form.

-LBJ

The Fortress
December 29th, 2006, 10:13 AM
At what point can you be confident that has occurred, esp in young age groupers?

Thing is, their engines are being developed simply by virtue of the fact of their moving up and down the pool, rather than playing video games, some three to six hours a week No matter how much focus we put on vessel shaping, conditioning still "happens." The reverse (i.e. when the primary emphasis is on how many, how hard, what HR, produce lactate) is hardly ever true -- the way they swim when left to their own devices and instincts makes that clear.

Certainly seems to me as if engine-building has a powerful grasp on the public psyche.

Terry:

I think this is well said about age groupers. That's why the main focus should be on "vessel" shaping initially. I think the Caped one was perhaps saying that once kids are older, the focus should be on both and not shift solely to engine building. Shouldn't the focus always stay on both as you age? For myself, I think I'll always be working on both. I bet the people defending engine building are also focusing on vessel shaping or have natually good vessels; they're just not exclusively vessel shaping. I do agree that many of the t-shirts being sold at swim meets seem to focus on killing oneself. At my last meet, however, I did see one that said "Support Water Sports: Date a Swimmmer." I liked that one. I also like the "You gotta believe to achieve" slogan, which focuses on the mental game as opposed to the physical side.

As to Michael Phelps, he is obviously very efficient. But his low lactate levels must have something to do with his own physiology, not just his beautiful flowing strokes. I seem to recall reading similar findings regarding Lance Armstrong, and it was attributed to his unique genetics. FlyQueen says she's read that Phelps was in "pain" every practice. So he's clearly not just shaping his vessel. Maybe that engine building pain is helping him swim that 400 IM and 200 fly.

Maybe the public is hooked on engine building because it produces more endorphins and psychologically make you feel "healthier" and more fit. I know I feel more fit after engine building or running than when I hop in the pool to do restorative swimming and drills. Both are pleasurable, both have benefits, but I feel more fit after engine building. Although working on streamlining brings out my arty side ...

ande
December 29th, 2006, 12:21 PM
I do have to add that for me personally, at this very moment, I believe I'll make more strides in swimming by improving the engine rather than improving the boat, but by improving the engine, the boat should improve as well. Meaning, to get my boat closer to ideal, I should weigh in the 190's
but probably my absolute ideal body weight might be somewhere in the range of 170 - 185 lbs

There's probably little things I can do to improve how streamlined I am when I swim. I think it would help to see what I'm doing now. Changing imbedded habits is one of the most difficult things we all face.
It taked conscious effort. We have to focus on the new habit, till the old one is gone and the new one is in place.
The moment you lose concetration, you revert back to the old.

One thing I can't change is how wide my hip bones are

Paul Smith
December 29th, 2006, 01:18 PM
I've posted many times about my thoughts on this subject......and will say again that relative to all the masters swimmers I've had a chance to train with....90%+ are not focusing enough on technique and instead "training the engine".

I recently swam with evil-Goodsmith....and jumped all over him for how sloppy he's gotten working out the same way, every day, without a coach keeping an eye on him....he's in awesome shape no doubt...but he's developing a more exagerated lop in his stroke, dropping his thumbs at entry and not attacking flip turns.

Same situation last month with Ms. Susan (Von der Lippe), who in spite of breaking a couple of world records at a meet at ASU....had noticbly sloppy swims...losing in my opinion at least 1 second per turn, and possibly the same amount per 50 by "circle swimming" her races.

I talked to them both about it....and both agreed that they had been swimming more "mindlessly" than "mindfully". Neither needs more conditioning, they need to get their exceptional efficiency back.

As for the talk about "pain" and "hurting"......as I've said many times before....when those rare times occur of finding the balance between power/speed/conditioning/smoothness.....the pain is simply not there....until you stop....then it comes on!

For me there we're two very contrasting swims at worlds that this was clear: the 50 fly which at the time and in retrospect was in slow motion and effortless and a WR vs. the 200 free which felt sluggish and was "work" within the first 25 meters.....and I got beat. The problem for me in the 200 was a mix of mental & physical....I had trained for the 50 not the 200....the conditioning wasn't there and my mind caved to that.

humans are funny things.....

ande
December 29th, 2006, 01:32 PM
As I think more about this, the most important thing to do is fast swimming and fast kicking while concentrating on drag reduction.

you need to concentrate on being streamlined, being long, taking smooth powerful efficient kicks and pulls while placing your body in optimum position. It's all about proper head position, proper body position, being streamlined, being aqua dynamic.

Swimmers should do the fast effort then get efficiency focused feedback, watch video and get accurate results (times) and compare.

ande


So here's a question: In what ways would you train differently if you were to prioritize reducing the energy or work demand of your races, rather than increasing your work, power or energy capacity?

ande
December 29th, 2006, 01:46 PM
excellent points, but why would you want to help the evil goodsmith?
isn't he about to age up?

is "getting their exceptional efficiency back" like bringing sexy back?

Ande


I've posted many times about my thoughts on this subject......and will say again that relative to all the masters swimmers I've had a chance to train with....90%+ are not focusing enough on technique and instead "training the engine".

I recently swam with evil-Goodsmith....and jumped all over him for how sloppy he's gotten working out the same way, every day, without a coach keeping an eye on him....he's in awesome shape no doubt...but he's developing a more exagerated lop in his stroke, dropping his thumbs at entry and not attacking flip turns.

Same situation last month with Ms. Susan (Von der Lippe), who in spite of breaking a couple of world records at a meet at ASU....had noticbly sloppy swims...losing in my opinion at least 1 second per turn, and possibly the same amount per 50 by "circle swimming" her races.

I talked to them both about it....and both agreed that they had been swimming more "mindlessly" than "mindfully". Neither needs more conditioning, they need to get their exceptional efficiency back.

As for the talk about "pain" and "hurting"......as I've said many times before....when those rare times occur of finding the balance between
power / speed / conditioning / smoothness.....
the pain is simply not there .... until you stop .... then it comes on!

For me there we're two very contrasting swims at worlds that this was clear: the 50 fly which at the time and in retrospect was in slow motion and effortless and a WR vs. the 200 free which felt sluggish and was "work" within the first 25 meters.....and I got beat. The problem for me in the 200 was a mix of mental & physical....I had trained for the 50 not the 200....the conditioning wasn't there and my mind caved to that.

humans are funny things.....

geochuck
December 29th, 2006, 02:08 PM
It takes a big engine to drive a big vessel. To swim fast we have to train fast.:dedhorse:

SolarEnergy
December 29th, 2006, 03:52 PM
But his low lactate levels must have something to do with his own physiology, not just his beautiful flowing strokes. That's a safe and smart assumption.

Lactate level can't be compared across individuals.

Paul Smith
December 29th, 2006, 04:23 PM
Ande....what can I say....I'm a glutton for punishment!! Serioussly though....John & Susan both epitimize excellance in swimming....however I brought them both up to make a point that everyone at every level can sometimes lose focus and "slip" into bad habits....

George...couldn't agree more...I've also posted here often that I believe that the only way to gett faster is to train fast....so the bottom line is both the engine and the vessel are important.....but in my opinion the vast majority of masters swimmers I've seen/trained with could/should consider a shift into more technique based training.....and it should be done at race pace at least once a week.

knelson
December 29th, 2006, 05:43 PM
From reading many of the responses it seems like quite a few people think it has to be one or the other. Why can't you build the engine and shape the vessel at the same time? I think you can. Like Paul Smith said, you've got to train fast, but at the same time there's no need to get sloppy. While training fast you need to constantly think about what you're doing in the water and work to minimize drag and maximize thrust at the same time.

The Fortress
December 29th, 2006, 06:00 PM
Ande....what can I say....I'm a glutton for punishment!! Serioussly though....John & Susan both epitimize excellance in swimming....however I brought them both up to make a point that everyone at every level can sometimes lose focus and "slip" into bad habits....

George...couldn't agree more...I've also posted here often that I believe that the only way to gett faster is to train fast....so the bottom line is both the engine and the vessel are important.....but in my opinion the vast majority of masters swimmers I've seen/trained with could/should consider a shift into more technique based training.....and it should be done at race pace at least once a week.

Paul:

I agree with you -- you must build the engine and shape the vessel. I think most folks posting here generally seem to agree with that basic proposition, even the alleged engine defenders. But reality often diverges from what we might know to be best, i.e., we get lazy, get sloppy and fail to follow Ande's tips assiduously. Thus, I also agree that most masters swimmers err by focusing too much on engine building at the expense of technique. This is true on my team. This is also one reason I work out alone. On my own, I can do drills, SDKs and race pace speed work on slow intervals without getting in anyone's way. I don't have mega-time to train, so I focus on quality over quantity like Allen. Of course, I'm not swimming the 200 free like you. I'm doing 50s and 100s. And, c'mon, of course a 200 hurts more than a 50! You have to have more "engine" for the 200. You probably need more engine the longer your distance gets. The trick, I guess, is to not sacrifice efficiency and technique while you're busy churning out endurance sets.

As for specific vessel training, I'm going to use my new monofin to shape my vessel, improve underwater, and become, to quote Ande, more "aqua-dynamic." I'll try to do those things without the monofin as well of course.

Paul Smith
December 29th, 2006, 06:45 PM
Ms. Fortress.....be cautious training alone all the time....its that exact type of situation that can lead to bad habits....doing quality work, drills, etc. is only valuabe if the technique is correct and the "eyes" of a good coach are invaluable. If you have access to a good coach....even in a workout that may not be exactly to your liking....try to use him (her)!

Also....truth be told when I have been "ready" to swim a 200 and actually found myself in the "zone".....rarely.....the same sensation exists: no pain and sense of moving in slow motion....its an awesome thing and something I strive for in every major meet.....if it ws bottled and legal I'd buy it! :drink:

The Fortress
December 29th, 2006, 06:58 PM
Ms. Fortress.....be cautious training alone all the time....its that exact type of situation that can lead to bad habits....doing quality work, drills, etc. is only valuabe if the technique is correct and the "eyes" of a good coach are invaluable. If you have access to a good coach....even in a workout that may not be exactly to your liking....try to use him (her)!

Also....truth be told when I have been "ready" to swim a 200 and actually found myself in the "zone".....rarely.....the same sensation exists: no pain and sense of moving in slow motion....its an awesome thing and something I strive for in every major meet.....if it ws bottled and legal I'd buy it! :drink:

Paul:

I don't usually swim alone. I said I was on a team. I just don't get there as much on weekdays during the school year as in the summer because of the kidlets and their activities. Thus, I must squeeze in some workouts on my own or my engine/vessel will sink. When I do go to team practices, my teammates are always on me, not to worry. There is much trash talking in my fast boy lane. I get a lot of freestyle tips and there's a great breaststroker on my team to help me along, if in fact I can be helped in that regard.

I wish you could bottle that sensation too -- and sell it to me. I swam a 100 LC fly this summer and it was painful. I was in the "zone" for 85 meters, feeling pretty proud of myself, and then.... Well, I didn't DQ'd. But it was painful; my LC engine wasn't big enough apparently. I'm not swimming the 200 free though. I stick with the 50.

What the heck are you doing with fins and a pull buoy on your avatar? Do those devices help in vessel shaping workouts?

How is the evil-GoodSmith fellow? How is his shoulder? Being sloppy with a shoulder injury doesn't sound awfully good.

swim4me
December 29th, 2006, 07:03 PM
Like Paul Smith said, you've got to train fast, but at the same time there's no need to get sloppy. While training fast you need to constantly think about what you're doing in the water and work to minimize drag and maximize thrust at the same time.

This has been an extremely interesting thread for me as a new masters swimmer (though an experienced teenage swimmer). However, I believe the quote above summarizes it all. "you've got to train fast, but at the same time there's no need to get sloppy." Build up aerobic capacity at the same time as working on technique and streamlining (streamlining was not taught to me as an young swimmer). My coach is always pushing my aerobic capacity and right before he shouts "GO" (while I am still gasping for air :help: ), he reminds me to stay long and streamlined (especially if he sees me getting sloppy).

Caped Crusader
December 29th, 2006, 07:47 PM
From reading many of the responses it seems like quite a few people think it has to be one or the other. Why can't you build the engine and shape the vessel at the same time? I think you can. Like Paul Smith said, you've got to train fast, but at the same time there's no need to get sloppy. While training fast you need to constantly think about what you're doing in the water and work to minimize drag and maximize thrust at the same time.

I think what you've said Kirk is absolutely accurate except for the first sentence. In reading the posts, I gleaned that most posters (like me) thought you needed to do both: build the engine and shape the vessel. It seemed what they were objecting to was an all technique approach or the notion that swimming did not involve pain. I don't think training is pain free. Maybe a race can seem like it is, but I agree with Paul, at the end you're dead.

islandsox
December 29th, 2006, 09:36 PM
I don't know, I don't see any harm in training alone if the swimmer has experience and has vessel trained most of his/her life. The reason I say this is because by this time, that swimmer can "feel" what is going right and what isn't. And if they can't, then their vessel needs another tune-up, as well as their brain to map it all.

But no matter how perfected that "vessel" is, without intensity training no records will be set. And it's one thing for a swimmer to have relatively good form and fall apart slightly toward the end. I don't find this unusual especially if they are setting records along the way. Nothing is perfect.

Janet Evan's vessel looked atrocious on top of the water, lots of body movement and water splashing, but underwater and with a realtively fast turnover, she made her mark. A lot of coaches were scratching their heads over this.

Perfecting a stroke to minimize drag is extremely important, but then the energy system MUST be developed to maintain the technique perfected. It is not one or the other, it is both.

And I just realized the topic of this thread: vessel shaper only. So my apologies for getting off on the importance of intensity training. I truly can't remember all of the things I did to vessel shape; it evolved over many years.

Donna

Caped Crusader
December 29th, 2006, 09:58 PM
Given that the physical capacities of most USMS swimmers are declining over time, while the capacities of the USAS athletes coached by those Dr. Sharp was addressing are not, would it not make even more sense to Masters swimmers to favor a "shaping the vessel" paradigm?

Islandsox, your comments are well received. The question originale had a long preamble about engine building, so responsive comments on engine building and its relative value are perfectly appropriate.

I don't get it. Technique is great. But I prefer to do some hard endurance sets in all sports, as well as hit the weight room. The importance of weights for health as you age cannot be understated. But then my goal is not to be a WR holder swimmer. That tends to be primarily limited to those who were age group aces. I was doing other sports.

But I will say this. My goal is not, as referred to in the quoted post, to have my physical capacities decline over time. I think I'm doing decently on that score. But it is attributable to mental and physical discipline. I don't miss workouts. I don't make excuses. I train hard, but I have easy days. I don't like whiners. I'd rather live long, feel great and be super fit than just mindfully shaping my vessel. If that's all you're doing, then I think your physical capabilities are ineluctably going to decline. I'd rather work on steming the tide. I've seen many middle age people in physical decline, and it ain't pretty. So, if anything, the decline should be reversed, not accepted by doing even more vessel shaping swimming.

chaos
December 29th, 2006, 11:42 PM
My goal is not, as referred to in the quoted post, to have my physical capacities decline over time. I think I'm doing decently on that score.

I don't think anyone has such goals, but reality is cruel.....

No one in this thread answered the title question: How would you train as a "Vessel Shaper?" (key word here being would) Instead, everyone seemed to take the position that they do enough to work on technique while bustin their butts through "hard sets", but the question (I believe) was posed to invite the discussion of inventive technique heavy sets. So, how about it?

islandsox
December 30th, 2006, 08:31 AM
You are right, Dave, no one has discussed the specifics of how they would vessel train, not even the advocates of TI. So, I'll bite.

I will approach this as if I had almost zero swimming experience (I'll try that is).

The first thing I would know to be true is that massive stroke turnover with a high clock time would be out. I would want to get to the end of the pool with as little energy output as possible for a reasonable given time. To do this, I would have to re-think how to accomplish this. My answers would be many: low stroke count, smooth stroke, streamlining, body balance (floating and swimming), quietly swimming (low splash), gliding, hand entry corrections, body rotation to streamline to aid in breathing patterns, keeping feet underwater while kicking. These are some.

I would then throw away my thoughts on maintaining a high heartrate for conditioning as I worked on drills for each of these components. I would find that conditioning elsewhere if I wasn't receiving it in the drills I had designed because my goal here is to swim effortless-looking, conserve energy, create technique, and enjoy a new feeling of swimming.

I would be patient in each of the drills and I would be religious in doing them. My goal would be to develop a feel for the water in which we are one so I would be able to enjoy swimming with less effort but a low clock time. And the hands have many sensors in them, so hand entry drills, closed and open fist, as well as some kind of glove may be of benefit.

Because of space constraints, I have not gotten into the specifics of each drill, I'd probably have to send an email about these drills. So this was a very generalized view of the things I would spend my time on to shape my vessel. I will say that I believe body balance and hand entry, for me, have contributed to minimizing drag, especially in ocean current.

And now that I am older and have more weight on me, I still work on efficiency in the water because my vessel has changed its parameters. It is something we all have to work on as we age.

The best I could do in a short amount of space.

Donna

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 09:19 AM
You are right, Dave, no one has discussed the specifics of how they would vessel train, not even the advocates of TI. So, I'll bite.

I will approach this as if I had almost zero swimming experience (I'll try that is).Donna

Thanks Donna, but why try to approach this idea from the perspective of one with no swimming experience. This suggests that technique needs to be painted on a blank canvass. (and I think discourages newbys from pursuing a regime that would foster advances in their technique for fear that they must sacrifice their speed to do so)
I have participated in several activities in my life that showcase "quality of movement". All have stressed virtue in the pursuit of perfect form (though ever elusive) for participants at every level.

geochuck
December 30th, 2006, 09:39 AM
My first step lose another 30 lbs to make the vessel more sleek and streamlined before I enter the water. Then work on developing the major engine the arms the shoulders the back muscle structure. Then work on the technique, with very few changes. Add the three ranges of training.

Not read anything that old coaches say or read anything that Councillman or any of the many time referenced coaches say. If we do it is a very confussed mishmash of xxxx.

SolarEnergy
December 30th, 2006, 10:04 AM
I've only been giving a rapid diagonal reading to this thread.

My one and only question I guess would be :

Does anyone here really think that neglecting tuning up one's engine is a smart decision to take for someone aiming at podiums in international meets?

Is this what this thread is about? Promoting the "non development" of core fitness components up to one's genetic limits?

If I take a simple example. This would mean that a 400m IM specialist shouldn't worry too much about developing his max O2 uptake to his full potential?

And how does that translate during the training sessions? "All right I know you're good, I know that you can swim real hard and that you like that, but please don't enjoy a fast set because it may develop your engine too much"?

As a swimmer, I'd give a strange glance to a coach telling me I shouldn't enjoy a difficult set, because I like swimming hard. I don't do it because I'm forced to.

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 10:11 AM
I've only been giving a rapid diagonal reading to this thread.

My one and only question I guess would be :

Does anyone here really think that neglecting tuning up one's engine is a smart decision to take for someone aiming at podiums in international meets?

Is this what this thread is about? Promoting the "non development" of core fitness components up to one's genetic limits?

certainly not what this thread is about. i think you missed point.

SolarEnergy
December 30th, 2006, 10:19 AM
certainly not what this thread is about. i think you missed point. Thanks a lot. I'm glad I missed it.

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 10:45 AM
certainly not what this thread is about. i think you missed point.

I don't think Solar missed the point. Terry's initial post was quite long and included criticism of "engine building" and volume training. Thus, it would be natural in response to challenge that criticism as well as offering innovative ways to vessel train if you had any innovative ways besides the array of drills most know about.

I'm with Solar. I swim and train hard because I enjoy it. I'm not forced to. I'm not into non-development.

I like the sneak freestyle drill. I work on SPL too.

I also started another thread called "What's more important?" so people could comment there if they somehow agreed with you that this thread was hijacked, which I don't believe it is.

I do note that Fortress commented on doing many drills and looking forward to using her monofin to promote streamlining. Donna, KNelson, Rich Abraham and Allen Stark also offered advice. I'm not sure why Terry started this thread. He obviously has innumerable ideas about how to train as a vessel.

We could of course all just "quit" the thread like you did on the "Biggest Loser..."

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 11:09 AM
I don't think Solar missed the point. Terry's initial post was quite long and included criticism of "engine building" and volume training. Thus, it would be natural in response to challenge that criticism as well as offering innovative ways to vessel train if you had any innovative ways besides the array of drills most know about.

I'm with Solar. I swim and train hard because I enjoy it. I'm not forced to. I'm not into non-development.

I like the sneak freestyle drill. I work on SPL too.

I also started another thread called "What's more important?" so people could comment there if they somehow agreed with you that this thread was hijacked, which I don't believe it is.


We could of course all just "quit" the thread like you did on the "Biggest Loser..."

Your thread "What's more important?" illustrates your lack of understanding that a training session that is technique heavy (I think you said TI'ing your life away to look pretty) cannot produce desired performance results. Or was this just a clever little dig?

I'm glad you're "with" solar (is solar with you?)

Paul Smith
December 30th, 2006, 11:15 AM
Its interesting how time and again over the last few years this topic gets so twisted......I don't think Terry has ever said "either/or" with regard to technique based and volumne based training.....

I'll repeat my position and try and give a better answer to the original position. If your belief is that "more is better" at the expense of good technique then you simply won't see the improvements you could if you focused on good technique first......I see it all the time, VERY fit masters swimmers, working hard, with poor technique and not improving....often getting overuse injuries.

As an example....one of the sets that Popov used has been discussed frequently: descending 50's on a reasonable interval maintianing the same stroke count. Once an extra stroke is taken....back off and start over. If you don't think thats hard......

I train like this almost exclusively.....if I find myself losing feel, increasing strok count, etc. I'll move to the back of lane or move to a lane using a slower interval and start over...so to speak. I simply don't beleive that "pushing thru it" has any value......if I want to "build my engine" specifically then I'll do so on a spin bike.

Training this way hasn't seem to hurt me with regard to speed or endurance....I managed to negative split my 200 & 500 and still had a decent 50/100.

Fortress.....John's shoulder isn't getting better....and he won't get it checked out....instead he's stopped swimming back/fly. He's stubborn to say the least!

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 11:20 AM
Your thread "What's more important?" illustrates your lack of understanding that a training session that is technique heavy (I think you said TI'ing your life away to look pretty) cannot produce desired performance results. Or was this just a clever little dig?

I'm glad you're "with" solar (is solar with you?)

Why are you commenting on another thread here? And effectively calling me an idiot? That is the essential problem with the defense of TI on this forum. If anyone questions your religion, you revert to condescending comments. It's all or nothing with you guys. But what if the truth lies somewhere in between? (I think Geochuck's last comment captured that.)

I think I just agreed (on the other thread) that if you were doing endurance sets and focusing on technique, you would get a good workout.

Perhaps I shouldn't have used the phrase "TI-ing your life away." I should have said "focusing exclusively on technique at the expense of endurance sets" in my other thread, which everyone can read and comment on there.

Maybe when Terry publishes his next two books the general public will understand that TI + endurance = great workout. But until that happens, it seems like you and Terry are cornering the market on that front. Most people associate TI with technique based training. Don't call us idiots for thinking so. That's what the books say and that's what is discussed on this forum.

I know Solar likes good technique. I was just commenting that he also seems to think some hard training is appropriate.

I'm not sure what you're referring to by "clever little dig." I guess it was the "TI-ing ....pretty" quote." I think Terry himself said his wife was TI-ing, looked pretty but swam slow.

I just don't want to spend all my time in the pool or on land training slowly. I'm going back to work, but I will lift some weighs at lunch.

SolarEnergy
December 30th, 2006, 11:23 AM
Again Paul, If Terry acknoledges that both aspect are equally important, I'm more than happy to have missed this thread's point.

The engine must be developed to its full potential. Not less. And it does hurt. No pain no gain.

In that, swimming is no different than any other cyclic endurance sports.

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 11:35 AM
Why are you commenting on another thread here? And effectively calling me an idiot?

I never said idiot (perhaps i should upload a less menacing photo)


Tall Paul,
good summary.

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 11:54 AM
I never said idiot (perhaps i should upload a less menacing photo).

I know you never said it. I'm just a fesity Italian like yourself, so I have a temper. And I don't like being talked down to.

I like your photo.

tomtopo
December 30th, 2006, 11:54 AM
I love TI but the crusaders who cannot accept the fact that any vessel streamline or otherwise, requires an engine, are not on the same page as most swimmers. Even a sailboat requires some wind to get going and an Olympic sprinter, championship triathlete, and record setting Master swimmer, needs the best engine possible to win. Speed is directly proportional to the efficiency and horsepower of the engine. A winning swimmer is also very cognisant of the fact that efficient streamlining (just like aerodynamics used in race car driving) helps them improve their speed.
Cars are a great example of how various qualities differentiate models and what those models are intended to do. For instance, a hybrid Toyota Prius, is not designed to win a Daytona 500 but for efficiency it's tough to beat. There are cars built for tough terrain and long distances (six mile open water triathlons), there are cars that simply reliable and give great gas milage (recreational swims), there are cars sleek / fast and meant to break speed records (Olympic 50m sprinters), -- All have engines, all are built different, and all have different streamlining capabilities.
Swimmers need to know how to improve their: streamlining, kick, strength,
endurance, flexibility, turns, psyche, and other components important to improved swimming performance.
I'm not an engine guy though I invented a product that helps improve your engine. I've been swimming and coaching for over 40 years and know that TI is very big in this forum (almost a religion). But come'on TI isn't 95% or 50% or any percent of helping swimmers swim faster, it's merely a component that has been marketed very successfully and yes - an important component but I hope people will stop making it "the thing" because it's not. Instead of saying TI, let's refer it to the name the swimming researchers gave it in the late 60's and early 70's - Streamlining.
So, swim for fun, swim for fitness, swim to go fast, swim for the heck of it, but swim because it's an awesome way to stay in shape and meet great folk.

Good Luck, Coach T.

The Fortress
December 30th, 2006, 12:06 PM
What product, Coach T?

tomtopo
December 30th, 2006, 12:11 PM
Please go to what's more important. I hope we can discontinue this vessel and engine banter. Coach T.

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 12:20 PM
I love TI but the crusaders who cannot accept the fact that any vessel streamline or otherwise, requires an engine, are not on the same page as most swimmers.

I don't believe anyone stated anything to the effect that no engine is required.

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 12:24 PM
I'm not an engine guy though I invented a product that helps improve your engine.

If this is a refrence to the tech paddle, I would argue that its design is primarily to improve technique. Am I wrong?

tomtopo
December 30th, 2006, 12:43 PM
I've been asked not to refer to my invention or I could be banished from this forum. And I really do like to discuss swimming, so... the product you are referring to is indeed a technical tool. Coach T.

islandsox
December 30th, 2006, 01:54 PM
Thanks Donna, but why try to approach this idea from the perspective of one with no swimming experience. This suggests that technique needs to be painted on a blank canvass. (and I think discourages newbys from pursuing a regime that would foster advances in their technique for fear that they must sacrifice their speed to do so)
I have participated in several activities in my life that showcase "quality of movement". All have stressed virtue in the pursuit of perfect form (though ever elusive) for participants at every level.

As hard as I tried to explain my thought patterns for making myself slippery in water, I used the wrong phrase: "no swimming experience." I'll change that now to any swimming experience. And I don't truly think my plan would discourage any new person from pursuing a regime sacrificing their speed. I say this because when a person is learning something very new to them regardless of what it is, they cannot perform it fast until they learn it, but during that journey to learn something new, they are rewarded along the way with accomplishments of performing that new task, i.e., doing something well feels good to the person.

I have tried my best to answer the initial question. The things I wrote about are the things I not only would do, but did do years ago.

Donna

The Fortress
December 30th, 2006, 01:56 PM
I've been asked not to refer to my invention or I could be banished from this forum. And I really do like to discuss swimming, so... the product you are referring to is indeed a technical tool. Coach T.

Banishment? This seems odd. All sorts of products, DVDs, etc. are discussed on this forum, including Terry's books and their publication dates. There has been much discussion of marketing, but it still occurs. I personally don't care. Now, I do care when non-USMS members join this forum and start posting about discounts on TVs or radios. That's crap.

I am also puzzled as to why some people can implicitly call others "idiots," "clydesdales" or chastise others for a complete "lack of understanding" while other people's posts are deleted for saying much tamers things. TI prides itself on being unconventional and controversial. What's the big deal? As Coach T says, TI/technique is a "component" of swimming and the degree to which it should be endorsed wholeheartedly is the subject of controversy and crusading. What's new? Nothing revolutionary here. And everyone has freedom of "religion."

Dave:

Who cares what kind of tool it is? What does that prove? Coach T said he focuses on both technique and engine building -- like almost everyone else here.

gull
December 30th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Perhaps "pain" is the wrong term. But with respect to exercise physiology, you have to stress a system in order to achieve training adaptations. Unfortunately, this involves getting outside of your comfort zone at times. I assume swimming 60 x 50 fly fits the bill.

My question is: what is the right mix for a Masters athlete (who wants to be competitive, say, at Nationals) with a finite amount of time to train?

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 02:42 PM
Dave:

Who cares what kind of tool it is? What does that prove? Coach T said he focuses on both technique and engine building -- like almost everyone else here.

T said he invented a device that helped improve the engine. Permit me to extrapolate: If a technical aid such as that we won't mention (by the way I own a pair and have tried them out; have you?) was designed to improve a swimmers performance by improving the catch or EVF, then, for the purpose of this thread (whether applicable or not anywhere else on the planet) should fall under the category of VESSEL SHAPER.
sorry about the run-on sentence.

tomtopo
December 30th, 2006, 02:59 PM
I invented a Early Vertical Forearm Training device called the techpaddle. Coach T.

KaizenSwimmer
December 30th, 2006, 03:08 PM
I love TI but the crusaders who cannot accept the fact that any vessel streamline or otherwise, requires an engine, are not on the same page as most swimmers.

Who or where are those "crusaders?" Can you cite a quote from any of them which suggests anything remotely like that?

I should point out, as he's too modest to mention it, that Dave Barra has been a USMS champion in the 10K. Can anyone suppose that he would have believed it possible to even complete - let alone win -- a 10K without adequate attention to conditioning?

Dave would probably not disagree with me if I characterized his approach, for the first four or five years of his involvement in Masters, as more focused on the conditioning effects of his training, while not dismissive of technique.

Three years ago he committed to a technique-intensive approach, which has become more thoroughgoing and informed over time. During that period he progressed from being in the top 10% of our Masters group, to being far and away, night in and night out, the fastest swimmer in the group.

Dave swims five to six days a week, often exceeding 25,000 yards. He swims fast on a remarkably consistent basis. What has changed is that he now views the value of that yardage primarily as an opportunity to explore and improve and imprint motor programs, with the conditioning effects as an outgrowth of the very difficult skill-based tasks he executes.

I train with Dave but about 20% less volume, have twice completed the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon, perform far better in the 1500/1650 than any shorter distance and broke two USMS Long Distance records this summer. And yet, when I begin a discussion to examine the question of whether Masters swimmers might benefit from giving equal attention to reducing the demand side of swimming fast as to increasing the supply side (fitness and power), it draws a handful of understanding responses (I can't resist pointing out that two of those were from Tall Paul and Allen Stark) vs. far more like that quoted above that evidently view this as an "attack" on conditioning and power.

I can't imagine a more convincing demonstration of my thesis that vessel-shaping is little understood and little appreciated in the swim community. Thanks to all for your assistance.:smooch:

SolarEnergy
December 30th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Perhaps "pain" is the wrong term.
I agree that "pain" isn't always the best word to describe what we actually feel during a swimming set.

But still, it's a feeling I get, "pain" (not discomfort) once in a while.

The first 100 fly of a 400IM? No discomfort. The backstroke leg? Slight discomfort. The breaststroke leg? Major discomfort.

Having to sprint the last 100 freestyle in order to catch up on the guys slightly ahead of me, lighting on the kick "engine" during the final 50m. That I call it pure "pain".

I take the 400 as an example because it's a pure VO2Max effort. VO2Max means what it means. VO2Max. Not VO2 Hydrodynamism or VO2 Technique. It means getting the aerobic metabolism operating at its maximal rate. And that hurts.

It's hard to tell how much fitness training a Master wanting to compete at the nationals need. That would depend on the background, the specialties, and also on how much the swimmer likes to suffer. As a master swimmer coach, I've been told more than once by several swimmers that they often find the sessions too easy.

KaizenSwimmer
December 30th, 2006, 03:12 PM
My question is: what is the right mix for a Masters athlete (who wants to be competitive, say, at Nationals) with a finite amount of time to train?

This is a to-the-point question. I'll start another thread to address one of the primary issues for this - what's the factual role of aerobic conditioning in preparing you for racing. Might be a day or two before I can make that post.

islandsox
December 30th, 2006, 03:46 PM
Terry,

I just wanted to make a small point here even though I am not speaking for many, only myself, but feel others may have thought this also.

It is very obvious you are providing a service to swimmers, some probably new and some probably not. I think what happens is most all of your discussions only address the importance of streamlining with little discussion of the power needed. So I believe that in the process of omission, and the entire discussion only toward streamlining, it is an obvious leap of what is important as you train people. And many who believe in getting power to our engines, well, we brought that up.

I personally know of no one in the swimming community both past and present who is not trying to work on their technique. I have never met anyone who wasn't. But they also give quite a bit of their time to conditioning, interval training, etc. I guess I would like to have seen you share some of your thoughts on conditioning and examples of sets, but the thread wasn't about that; it was about training for a streamlined body and stroke. I don't feel the swim community is more about power training vs technique, at least not in my world.

Donna

knelson
December 30th, 2006, 03:47 PM
No one in this thread answered the title question: How would you train as a "Vessel Shaper?"

I did in post #19.

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 03:54 PM
I did in post #19.

kirk, true and some others did too (few) and then it turned into something else.

KaizenSwimmer
December 30th, 2006, 03:58 PM
I take the 400 as an example because it's a pure VO2Max effort. VO2Max means what it means. VO2Max. Not VO2 Hydrodynamism or VO2 Technique. It means getting the aerobic metabolism operating at its maximal rate. And that hurts.

Several studies have demonstrated a relatively low correlation between VO2Max and performance. This has been noted in running as well as swimming. There've been more thorough studies in running. For instance many Kenyan marathoners have a VO2Max more characteristic of 5K runners. What do such athletes have in common? They demonstrate a high level of movement economy. In other words, as was seen when stroking power was measured, those who did the most effective job of reducing the demand side of fast running or swimming, simply didn't require as much supply (energy or power) as those whose movements are less efficient.

Engine-building athletes might well say things like "the 400 is a pure VO2Max effort" and therefore deserving of being explicit in the design of training sets so they can increase the supply of energy.

Vessel-shaping athletes are far more likely to view neural programming as the most critical factor in deciding the outcome of the race, and therefore the factor that deserves to be explicit in design of training sets, with energy systems not ignored, but implicit in set design.

This would probably be more easily understood if Dave and I were to provide some examples of recent training sets and the factors we considered in designing them. Here's one. The amount of detail may seem unreasonable to some.

On Thursday Dave and I swam with Greg Sautner another TI coach who is a pro/elite triathlete and x-c and track coach at SUNY New Paltz where we swim.
Our main set in a 4200-yard practice was:
5 rounds of 3 x 100 (Odd rounds FR on 1:30, even rounds IM on 1:45) No break between rounds.
400 recovery
3 rounds of 3 x 100 with 50 EZ between rounds. Intervals were 1:45, 2:00, 2:00) I did FR, IM, FR by rounds. Dave did FR, IM, FL by rounds.

The set of 15 x 100 was intended as a sub-max set and "tuneup" for the set of 9 x 100
Round 1, descend on 52 strokes (Dave’s SPLs were lower than mine)
Round 2, descend on 42 strokes (i.e. 8FL, 14BK, 8BR, 12 FR)
Round 3, descend on 56 strokes (faster avg than round 1)
Round 4, descend on 46 strokes (faster avg than round 2)
Round 5 descend on 60 strokes (faster avg than round 3)
I won’t go into complete detail but each of us also had a specific, highly detailed technique focus on each length and repeat (i.e. for me “Marionette Arms” on my first round of 3 x 100 FR. That means having a sense of my hand/forearm being completely relaxed on recovery – hanging from my elbow like a marionette. Second round of 3 x 100 FR was “Mail Slot” and 3rd round was synchronizing leg drive with opposite-hand spear.)

Within each round, our challenge was to swim progressively faster without adding strokes.

From round to round, we had a “neural challenge” of frequently changing motor programs. Descending an IM set is different from descending a FR set, but descending FR at 56 strokes employs a different combination of SL and SR than descending at 52 strokes.

Further, because of the combination of increasing velocity within each round and changing SL from round to round, every single 100 in the set of 15 was a slightly different task than every other 100. The intensity of neural training that goes on in such a set is unrivaled in engine-building workouts. And those people who are most knowledgeable in the field of performance are unified in their conviction that neural performance is more influential to race results than physiology.

The 400 recovery was done at lower SPLs (I did it at 11-12SPL).

The objective in the set of 9 x 100 was to make use of the “stroke tuning” we did in the earlier set and to test your control by swimming at higher rates and speeds and greater physical demand. Basically to swim at the top range of SPLs on longer intervals and see how fast -- yet efficiently -- we could go.

All of us experienced that our performance on the 2nd set, while good, was somewhat compromised because we got a bit "carried away" by excitement over how well we were swimming on the 1st set and had too much residual fatigue to do our best. That's an important lesson for all of us, particularly at this time of the swimming year. We feel the excellence of our motor programming is FAR more critical to how we might swim in April and May than how much “toughness” we might demonstrate at this point

Taking it a bit deeper, during those IM reps, I found myself mainly thinking about how to minimize resistance on the SA strokes and a bit more focused on how to increase propulsion on the LA strokes -- but there were elements of both in each.

Dave might have further information to share from his own focus during this set.

knelson
December 30th, 2006, 03:59 PM
kirk, true and some others did too (few) and then it turned into something else.

That's sort of the nature of the beast in these forums, isn't it? :)

KaizenSwimmer
December 30th, 2006, 04:03 PM
I think what happens is most all of your discussions only address the importance of streamlining with little discussion of the power needed.

I wouldn't quibble entirely with this characterization. And there's a reason. There's no shortage of discussion of power and fitness all across the swim spectrum. There's a distinct shortage of discussion of the demand-reduction side of the equation. What sort of service would I be providing if I parrotted what others are already advocating? Where I can provide some kind of service is by exposing people to alternative approaches. I don't think I neglect to mention that integration of both approaches is critical to success.

Allen Stark
December 30th, 2006, 04:36 PM
Every month in Swimming World they interview a successful coach and EVERY ONE of them spends the first few paragraphs explaining why technique is important.Every one!! Most of them are quoted as saying it is the most important thing to focus on. Obviously a boat without a motor won't go and a cube shaped barge won't go fast regardless of motor size. If you do 5000 "mindful" yd you are obviously going to get more benefit than 5000 "mindless" yd. I expect we have much more agreement in practice than is apparent in discussion.
I have a suggestion,Terry has said his ideas are evolving and his first book is no longer a good representation of them. Lets take him at his word and focus on what is said in the forum and not on old readings or hearsay.

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 05:14 PM
This is a to-the-point question. I'll start another thread to address one of the primary issues for this - what's the factual role of aerobic conditioning in preparing you for racing. Might be a day or two before I can make that post.

I think this question was previously asked once or twice several pages ago, but not answered. I'm glad it's to-the-point now.

geochuck
December 30th, 2006, 05:29 PM
The pitfalls of swimming books times change new things happen, what happened to the S Stroke.

I even read a story about a cult that believed they could walk on water. They had one surviving member he arrived 2 minutes late and watched all the cult members drown. He left the cult.

The Fortress
December 30th, 2006, 05:30 PM
I think this question was previously asked once or twice several pages ago, but not answered. I'm glad it's to-the-point now.

Yes, I asked this precise same question in posts #13 and #34. I also noted that I was training 50/50 or 60/40 vessell to engine (and currently 100% vessel), but I seem nonetheless to get lumped in with the engine builders. Or at least in some other category than Paul or Allen. But I agree with Allen, for purposes of this discussion, let's forget about TI book #1, which is for newbies (and is great for them, no doubt), and move forward with the new ideas that combine building technique and speed and endurance. Now, since I've been called the "drill queen" and stated over and over how important technique is, I think my position should be clear. The fact that I believe you also have to have an engine for certain events appears to be very non-controversial. I also do not believe that engine building gets more "press" on this forum than technique. To the contrary, at least here, people seem more intent on improving their technique. Now, it may be quite different in the swimming community at large.

Dave:

No, I haven't used the tech paddle. I have said many times that I do not use paddles or any other swimming device besides fins. It just seemed like you were focusing on the vessel/engine distinction with respect to the paddle to tweak Coach T.

SwimStud
December 30th, 2006, 05:32 PM
I even read a story about cult that believed they could walk on water. They had one surviving member he arrived 2 minutes late and watched all the cult members drown. He left the cult.

:laugh2: :laugh2: :laugh2: :laugh2:

geochuck
December 30th, 2006, 05:32 PM
This is a to-the-point question. I'll start another thread to address one of the primary issues for this - what's the factual role of aerobic conditioning in preparing you for racing. Might be a day or two before I can make that post.

It depends where you select your facts.

SolarEnergy
December 30th, 2006, 05:39 PM
Several studies have demonstrated a relatively low correlation between VO2Max and performance. I'm not saying there's a correlation between VO2Max and performance.

I'm saying there's a correlation between VO2Max and the 400m. It's true for the 400 free, but even more for the 400 IM which is the event I used as an example.

Would you argue that an event of 5min duration belongs purely to the aerobic capacity domain?

As for the correlation between VO2Max and performances (50, 100, 200, 1500, 10000, 25000), I tend to agree with you up to a certain point.



Engine-building athletes might well say things like "the 400 is a pure VO2Max effort" and therefore deserving of being explicit in the design of training sets so they can increase the supply of energy.

Vessel-shaping athletes are far more likely to view neural programming as the most critical factor in deciding the outcome of the race, and therefore the factor that deserves to be explicit in design of training sets, with energy systems not ignored, but implicit in set design.
I understand the message you're that trying to get through this thread.

But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not an Engine-builder nor a Vessel-shaper. With all due respect (I truly read most of your posts and enjoy them very much), I think that with TI's past record in trying to make people believe that swimming fast required no hard training, there's a danger of not being understood in the way you're trying to pass this thread's message.

Still, I'm a fan of yours and these threads are important indeed.

gull
December 30th, 2006, 05:40 PM
I even read a story about a cult that believed they could walk on water. They had one surviving member he arrived 2 minutes late and watched all the cult members drown. He left the cult.

Or you could say the cult left him.

My wife would use that story as justification for not being on time.

The Fortress
December 30th, 2006, 05:53 PM
Who or where are those "crusaders?"

It draws a handful of understanding responses (I can't resist pointing out that two of those were from Tall Paul and Allen Stark)

I can't imagine a more convincing demonstration of my thesis that vessel-shaping is little understood and little appreciated in the swim community. Thanks to all for your assistance.:smooch:

Well, in defense of Coach T, I have heard you call yourself a "crusader." In another thread, you admitted to a "grandiosity" complex and said you were on a "crusade" to eradicate a certain epidemic that could be eliminated "mainly" by technique. So I believe you've put yourself in that category.

I think you got more than a handful of "understanding responses" though. Most people including myself seemed to agree that technique was important. And I'm glad you "can't resist" pointing out Allen and Tall Paul. I think that speaks volumes as to who you are willing to listen to. Perhaps that's why when you're "providing a service" to the rest of us who apparently have "little understanding" of your vision, we don't always kneel down. You have a way on picking on folks who largely, but don't always, agree with you. :shakeshead: I think you'd win more "converts" with a different approach.

geochuck
December 30th, 2006, 05:55 PM
V02Max is very important but no one should use it more than once or twice a week. It should be used once you have found out the way you should swim. It is only a minor part of building an engine. Just as Aerobic swimming is a small part, Lactic threshold swimming is a very minor part of be able to swim fast and smooth. But all are essential in a well rounded program.

Technique is also part of a smooth running engine that does not break down.

Almost forgot Anerobic swimming very important but also only a small portion of the complete swimmer

chaos
December 30th, 2006, 06:32 PM
No, I haven't used the tech paddle. I have said many times that I do not use paddles or any other swimming device besides fins. It just seemed like you were focusing on the vessel/engine distinction with respect to the paddle to tweak Coach T.
Not my intention to "tweak" coach T at all. (am i now known as a "tweaker":thhbbb: )I only wanted to state that my opinion and experience of the tech paddle is that is is a device designed to promote technique unlike most other paddles. Swimming "hard" would be difficult and probably not advisable using them.

geochuck
December 30th, 2006, 06:42 PM
Not my intention to "tweak" coach T at all. (am i now known as a "tweaker":thhbbb: )I only wanted to state that my opinion and experience of the tech paddle is that is is a device designed to promote technique unlike most other paddles. Swimming "hard" would be difficult and probably not advisable using them.
There is a time to learn Technique and that is when to use the Tech Paddle.

islandsox
December 30th, 2006, 09:17 PM
This is finally tiresome and boring. After receiving criticism, which I don't mind at all, I got more when I actually tried to answer the intial thread question. But low and behold, one TI advocates (Dave) came back and found fault with my attempting to try to answer the question. It seems that no matter what answer is given, it is faulted. This is their downfall; not listening to people who actually have swimming experience, records under the belt, and have actually made it to the Olympics, even if those records were long ago. But maybe to them, they think we were only working on conditioning which is not the case at all.

It is sad that "today" only matters. It seems to be more important to dispel what we, as Olympians and alternates, achieved. No one can even fathom what I and others went through to get to and through Olympic trials and finally to the Games. We are a great part of the history of swimming. Please keep this in mind even if some of us are now older and not setting records today. Our time came and went, as will everyone here. No one stays on top for very long even with minimizing drag and streamlining. Age will happen to each of us; this is life, and no amount of streamlining nor swimming like a fish will be of much benefit in the big picture.

I guess my thought is to stop thinking a particular group of people have all the answers; no single person has all the answers, never have. And, I have never professed to have them, I only know what worked for me and still does. Emphasis on streamlining and minimizing drag is not new at all, but several here insist that it is not emphasized enough in today's world of swimming. I have found this to be totally untrue through 4 coaches and 3 masters teams. And I am starting to wonder if this propaganda is not invented so we will listen.

I wish you all great swimming for life. It, to me, is the most perfect exercise in the world especially for those whose bodies are aging and joints are hurting. A swimmer for life, and, as a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind being put in a tupperware bowl and set out to sea when my life ends. And, I do streamline, always have.

Donna

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 10:49 PM
After receiving criticism, which I don't mind at all, I got more when I actually tried to answer the intial thread question. But low and behold, one TI advocates (Dave) came back and found fault with my attempting to try to answer the question. It seems that no matter what answer is given, it is faulted. This is their downfall; not listening to people who actually have swimming experience

Well said. I hope this is not your swan song, Donna. I agree that it appears that unless you hold LD records, and everyone knows that you do because you tell them, or are well known (Paul and Allen obviously can't help this), you're not accorded much deference on this forum. You did attempt to answer the original question, which appeared to set up "engine building" as the proverbial, and now detested by everyone, "straw man."

I think Ande advocates the "rage to master." Not that I fall into any of these categories, but people who have experience, are gaining experience, attempting to "master" the sport or themselves have good (although not publicized) stats should also be accorded some modicum of respect. Just my :2cents: .

Caped Crusader
December 30th, 2006, 10:58 PM
For instance many Kenyan marathoners have a VO2Max more characteristic of 5K runners. What do such athletes have in common? They demonstrate a high level of movement economy. In other words, as was seen when stroking power was measured, those who did the most effective job of reducing the demand side of fast running or swimming, simply didn't require as much supply (energy or power) as those whose movements are less efficient.


My understanding of Kenyan runners is that their economy of movement is not necessarily attributable to "mindful" application of running techniques taught by the running version of TI coaches. To the contrary, I thought the Kenyans were a physiological phenomenon. That as a result of their socioeconomic culture, they for many, many decades have had to run everywhere as a necessary mode of transportation. After decades and decades of running, their genetics (longer legs, stronger cartilege and tendons, etc.) adapted to promote the ease of running, which was a necessity of life. Thus, over time, Kenya began producing more and more great distance runners. Nothing at all to do with using TI to vessel shape right now.

The Fortress
December 30th, 2006, 11:17 PM
Or you could say the cult left him.

My wife would use that story as justification for not being on time.

I think the moral of George's story is that you should not join a cult ... and I am not speaking of that taboo subject of religion.

After this thread, I'm ditching vessels completely. I'm going to be a speedboat, not a tugboat. The word "vessel" needs to be re-shaped.

Peter Cruise
December 30th, 2006, 11:43 PM
Okay, so I've been preoccupied for awhile and I examine this thread upon returning: I will repeat my previous observation that some could be more careful in their choice of words in targeted replies. Having said that, I will point out to TL that he can be patronizing at times; just as much, I will remind others that a great deal of admiring talk within masters' socializing concerns gnarly sets we have done rather than concentrated work on minimizing drag (yet, as Terry points out, vital to our progress). I feel that whilst we pursue these dancing technical threads that we all preach to the converted; personalities become the only issue.

The Fortress
December 31st, 2006, 12:07 AM
I feel that whilst we pursue these dancing technical threads that we all preach to the converted

I agree, TL is preaching to the converted. :snore: He just seems unwilling to accept that we are converted. I think someone said we were willing to accept that he has been converted since he now acknowledges the value of engine building.

Aside from that, the thread does indeed reflect personalities, as they all do (I wish you had injected yours more!), but the thread was also about potentially declining physical capacities of masters swimmers, physiological factors in dictating swimming performance, desired ratios of technique vs. endurance training, lactic acid tolerance, pain tolerance and the definition of pain. So we weren't all sitting on rocks humming a barbed tune.

Now, once I get my engine into high gear (which will take some doing after this last month of physical declination) and work on my new speedboat, I'm going to start bragging about my gnarly, nasty, chow blowing endurance sets -- which you and TL admit are of some benefit. :rofl:

I just have to add that my mother-in-law walked by awhile ago when I was viewing this thread. She looked confused and asked what boats and vessels and cults had to do with swimming. I guess to a non-swimmer the whole notion of "vessel-shaping" or "vessel-training" is absurd and foreign ... She now thinks I'm nuts and wonders what I'm actually doing at practice.

KaizenSwimmer
December 31st, 2006, 07:27 AM
Well, in defense of Coach T, I have heard you call yourself a "crusader."

What I was responding to was the suggestion that I and/or Dave have pushed the notion that you don't need an engine. That interpretation of my original question came up over and over, no matter how often I corrected it. We can probably all agree that this thread has played itself out.

KaizenSwimmer
December 31st, 2006, 07:31 AM
desired ratios of technique vs. endurance training,

Can we all agree that all training results in conditioning? Does it therefore follow that all training should also teach or reinforce technique? Separating them creates an artificial distinction.

The Fortress
December 31st, 2006, 09:40 AM
Can we all agree that all training results in conditioning? Does it therefore follow that all training should also teach or reinforce technique? Separating them creates an artificial distinction.

Depends on how you define "training" I guess.

I agree that this thread is over, since everyone has converted to technique training. I also doubt there's much anyone could tell you about how to vessel shape/train. You already know how.

I note again that when Gull asked the same question, it was "to-the-point" and you were proposing to start a new thread. When I ask it, I get dissed and you're back to blurring the distinction. I just don't get it... Why the disparate treatment? I don't think Gull has exactly been an angel in the past if he's proposing to attend TI clinics under an assumed name. No way to conquer the world ....

I agree with Allen's post on the "USMS Threadies." Let's :dedhorse: all TI evangelists and all TI debunkers. Since my comments throughout this thread reflect that I'm somewhere in the middle (although I probably value technique more highly) and that I actually read all the posts, I'm riding off on my speedboat.

geochuck
December 31st, 2006, 09:43 AM
Can we all agree that all training results in conditioning? Does it therefore follow that all training should also teach or reinforce technique? Separating them creates an artificial distinction.
Terry even when I do V02Max I use technique. As a matter of fact every swimmer I know swims with technique whether they are relaxing or working hard. I don't have to agree with their technique.

geochuck
December 31st, 2006, 09:54 AM
Fortress - Is it better to have a 5 hp motor or a 150 hp on a speed boat???

Caped Crusader
December 31st, 2006, 10:11 AM
After receiving criticism, which I don't mind at all...Age will happen to each of us; this is life, and no amount of streamlining nor swimming like a fish will be of much benefit in the big picture.

Constructive criticism is always good. Mindless criticism isn't.

Age will happen. I'm trying to fend it off with some gnarly well-rounded workouts using whatever means and guile I can find.

The Fortress
December 31st, 2006, 10:13 AM
Fortress - Is it better to have a 5 hp motor or a 150 hp on a speed boat???

I believe that is a rhetorical question, George. :)

SolarEnergy
December 31st, 2006, 10:23 AM
This is finally tiresome and boring. After receiving criticism, which I don't mind at all, I got more when I actually tried to answer the intial thread question. But low and behold, one TI advocates (Dave) came back and found fault with my attempting to try to answer the question. It seems that no matter what answer is given, it is faulted. Donna we love you.

This thread, while being interesting, is half thread, half troll. Just to get a discussion around streamlining going.

chaos
December 31st, 2006, 10:44 AM
Tonight I will be practicing both endurance (staying up past 2am) and technique (high elbow champagne delivery) at a ratio of 50/50.

When everyone starts getting cuddly, its time to kill the thread.

Wishing every one a happy and intensely focused 07!:wave:

poolraat
December 31st, 2006, 01:00 PM
Tonight I will be practicing both endurance (staying up past 2am) and technique (high elbow champagne delivery) at a ratio of 50/50.

I'll be lifting 12 oz. weights.:D

geochuck
December 31st, 2006, 02:31 PM
Tonite I will lift a large vessel of Tequilla, Mango juice etc. and toast to the world of master swimming. :groovy: :groovy:

Paul Smith
December 31st, 2006, 04:37 PM
George.....you've inspired me....I to will indulge in a couple of shots of Patron!

Happy New Years All! :drink:

geochuck
January 1st, 2007, 09:03 AM
Paul I see you live in Evergreen Co. I thought we had something in common I live in Delta BC on Evergreen Lane.

I guess I did not drink too many vessels New Years Eve I feel great this morning got up at 5.30 am and had my usual small 8 cup pot of coffee.

Heading for the pool to start working on my new years resolution to be consistent in my swimming, swimming fast, smooth with technique, making sure I am streamlined. Not over doing the V02Max, just enough, 25s, 50s and 75s.

The Fortress
January 1st, 2007, 10:16 AM
I guess I did not drink too many vessels New Years Eve I feel great this morning got up at 5.30 am and had my usual small 8 cup pot of coffee.

Heading for the pool to start working on my new years resolution to be consistent in my swimming, swimming fast, smooth with technique, making sure I am streamlined. Not over doing the V02Max, just enough, 25s, 50s and 75s.


Much better use of the word "vessel." I had a few vessels last night. Then I switched to the :coffee: vessel this morning. I wish I could work on my streamlined speedboat today. How come your pool is open? No fair.

poolraat
January 1st, 2007, 10:22 AM
It was a tough one last night. I went to bed around 10.:snore: Up at 5:30. Am now sitting here with :coffee: trying to decide if I want to go swim in the hot, short, not very clean hotel pool. One more week and the city pool re-opens:groovy: .

SwimStud
January 1st, 2007, 11:49 AM
Happy New Year All

I had a few vessels last night too, but I did not feel like going to the pool to squeeze in a short workkout in overcrowded conditions b/c the YMCA shuts by noon--thus everyone goes.

I've gone from feeling great last week, to feeling like crud this week. I now have sore throat and coughing. I will be undergoing hot tub therapy today. I think I'll hit the pool tomorrow or Wed...depending on my chest.
At least I am resting my pulled thigh/groin, which is feeling better anyhow. :dunno:

Paul Smith
January 1st, 2007, 01:00 PM
Geochuck......we need to get back up to BC sometime soon.....keep me updated on any great meets this coming year....Peter, same for you!

Quiet night....celebrated New Years on NY time.....got up.....took a yoga class at 8am...swam about 600....now time to watch some football!

SwimStud
October 24th, 2007, 10:24 PM
Well I'm a little intrigued. I'm doing 100FR around 1the 1:05 mark and working on swimming fast to get under a minute.

How much time would vessel shaping be worth versus engine building in the 100 FR. Is it worth worrying about? I Mean I'm only what 5'8" so I have no business even being in the race...but should I focus on my power, or try to eke out to the longest I can. It feels good to stretch right out but it certainly slows down my stroke. Is not being ripped a bad thing for me at my height?

Thoughts?

islandsox
October 24th, 2007, 10:57 PM
Wow, Rich, you're already down to a 1:05 in the 100 free? You haven't even been swimming a full year yet! How'd you do that? I am in no way in a position to talk about vessel shaping, not until I lose 30 pounds! I know what to do, but just don't want to do it, so I do those LONG swims instead! Only did a 6 miler two days ago; our ocean is very angry right now! I'd say whatever you are doing, it is working!!!

donna

The Fortress
October 24th, 2007, 11:08 PM
Having reviewed this old thread, I now think this is partly why Solar Energy is no longer posting. :(

Rich:

Carry on with the vessel shaping portion of your workout. But also do loads of race pace training, work on your kick, and do some strength/core training if you have time. Sprinters need upper body strength. Forget about being 5'8". As a relatively short swimmer person, I beat people at sprints that crush me in longer events. 100 free? No problem. Just keep at it.

SwimStud
October 25th, 2007, 08:13 AM
Wow, Rich, you're already down to a 1:05 in the 100 free? You haven't even been swimming a full year yet! How'd you do that? I am in no way in a position to talk about vessel shaping, not until I lose 30 pounds! I know what to do, but just don't want to do it, so I do those LONG swims instead! Only did a 6 miler two days ago; our ocean is very angry right now! I'd say whatever you are doing, it is working!!!

donna

Well I did a 1:09 at SCY Zones in May. Then went 1:16:xx at LCM Zones in August which converts down to 1:05:xx I'm hoping adding the walls back into the race will perhaps allow me to do better....who knows. Rumour has it that Geek has started lifting more now...

quicksilver
October 25th, 2007, 08:56 AM
The majority of Princeton University's mens team is under six feet tall at the moment.
And they have several of their top sprinters going in the :45 range for the 100 free.


Height doesn't always pose a benefit. Decreasing resistance does.

SwimStud
October 25th, 2007, 09:54 AM
The majority of Princeton University's mens team is under six feet tall at the moment.
And they have several of their top sprinters going in the :45 range for the 100 free.


Height doesn't always pose a benefit. Decreasing resistance does.

Oh you are just way too contraversial for me. You are just trying to stir up trouble and acrimony!!

:bump:

quicksilver
October 25th, 2007, 11:36 AM
I would respond, but my communicationing skills are inferiorite to yours.

I'm struggling to grasp the full understantion of your statement. :)

Allen Stark
October 25th, 2007, 12:25 PM
Rich,as a breaststroker you must have powerful legs.Use them,with great streamlining,to blast the turns.If you can SDK fast even better.Go at least 5 M underwater on each turn,more if you have a fast SDK. At 5'8" I can't keep with the Tall Pauls on the turns in free,but I can beat most 6'ers with surperior push offs and streamlining.

SwimStud
October 25th, 2007, 12:53 PM
...At 5'8" I...

this is why I use the "Stark's Law" approach to BR. I figure if we're similar structure, similar techniques will work for us in similar ways...
:notworthy:

RecreationalSwimmer
October 25th, 2007, 01:33 PM
In what ways would you train differently if you were to prioritize reducing the energy or work demand of your races, rather than increasing your work, power or energy capacity?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3203723600014312332&q=michael+phelps+site%3Avideo.google.com&total=20&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=8

Lots of butterfly drills and tech tips in this video with then 16 year-old Michael Phelps. The drill section starts at 21:20. These drills will enhance everyone's freestyle too.

Peter Cruise
October 25th, 2007, 02:58 PM
My vessel currently resembles a garbage scow, fully loaded.

bobbyhillny
October 25th, 2007, 08:50 PM
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3203723600014312332&q=michael+phelps+site%3Avideo.google.com&total=20&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=8

Lots of butterfly drills and tech tips in this video with then 16 year-old Michael Phelps. The drill section starts at 21:20. These drills will enhance everyone's freestyle too.


That's a great video. Thanks!

chaos
October 25th, 2007, 10:22 PM
Height doesn't always pose a benefit. Decreasing resistance does.[/QUOTE]

vessel shaping as i understand it relating to the improvement of ones swimming is precisely that....decreasing resistance, not trying to grow to 6'5"...but trying to maintain a long body line.

i watched two guys doing a set of 5 x 200 on 2:30 both were holding sub 1:50's, both were +/- 6' 3", one was holding 10 spl, one was holding 16 spl.
which would you rather be?

Blackbeard's Peg
October 25th, 2007, 11:49 PM
i watched two guys doing a set of 5 x 200 on 2:30 both were holding sub 1:50's, both were +/- 6' 3", one was holding 10 spl, one was holding 16 spl.
which would you rather be?

With the times they're holding, Either one!

I'm guessing the 10spl dude was more a full-time distance guy, and the 16spl guy a 100/200 sprinter (and probably the one with the most arm soreness after that set). Obviously 10spl guy is more efficient w/ his strokes (and/or doing a lot of SDK).

SwimStud
October 25th, 2007, 11:53 PM
With the times they're holding, Either one!

I'm guessing the 10spl dude was more a full-time distance guy, and the 16spl guy a 100/200 sprinter (and probably the one with the most arm soreness after that set). Obviously 10spl guy is more efficient w/ his strokes (and/or doing a lot of SDK).

Well I get about 17 on a sprint and my best was about 14 stretching...but I'm not 100% of what I'm doing. No coach. We can all laugh at me on Sunday and point out my problems (swimming ones) over a Yeunglings..which I promise to still mispronounce just for BlueMuppet.

MAC swimmer
October 26th, 2007, 05:46 AM
I think this is an interesting topic. It certainly seems like the easiest way to improve speed would be to reduce drag rather than to increase propulsion.

Here's one thought on training differently based on this. As another poster mentioned, there are times when your stroke feels almost effortless. I think especially for distance swimmers this is what we strive for in races. We know the longer into a race we can keep this feeling the better. Now part of this is conditioning, but another part is drag reduction. Feeling "long and smooth" is just a mnemonic for swimming with the least drag possible. So maybe in training we should try to maintain this feeling even if it means sloing down. In a hard training set we usually get to a point where our stroke breaks down and we just try to bull through the rest of the set however we can. This usually means looking ugly in the water. Maybe when we get to the point where our stroke breaks down it would be better to slow down to the point where we can maintain a smooth stroke instead, even if it means you'll miss the send off or get passed by other swimmers.

This is it. This is the essence of why I have hit a plateau. I am always trying to make the set time. Stroke breaks down--I am trying to survive. 12 X 100 odds are free, evens are IM on 1:50. That's a good rest for the free but I am completely wrecked on the IM. If I am going to improve, I need to "shape my vessel". This is the first time I have read this thread so bear with me.

MAC swimmer
October 26th, 2007, 06:14 AM
Wow, Rich, you're already down to a 1:05 in the 100 free? You haven't even been swimming a full year yet! How'd you do that? I am in no way in a position to talk about vessel shaping, not until I lose 30 pounds! I know what to do, but just don't want to do it, so I do those LONG swims instead! Only did a 6 miler two days ago; our ocean is very angry right now! I'd say whatever you are doing, it is working!!!

donna


Donna,

But didn't you say earlier that you can hold 12 strokes per 25 for a mile--that is an outstanding "vessel". I too am trying to break 1:00 in the 100 free. Brute force and ignorance is not working for me (hard training and weight lifting). Getting down to 12 strokes a length is my goal.

chaos
October 26th, 2007, 08:24 AM
With the times they're holding, Either one!

I'm guessing the 10spl dude was more a full-time distance guy, and the 16spl guy a 100/200 sprinter (and probably the one with the most arm soreness after that set). Obviously 10spl guy is more efficient w/ his strokes (and/or doing a lot of SDK).

yes, mr 10spl had better walls but also created much less disturbance

Syd
October 26th, 2007, 08:13 PM
"It is important to realise that in the top ranges of racing speed, minimization of resistance takes priority over increases in propulsive force." Bob Bowman
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3203723600014312332&q=michael+phelps+site%3Avideo.google.com&total=20&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=8
This makes me think of those wind tunnel tests they do when developing new car models. I guess this luxury is only reserved for the athletes who actually manage to attain these top speeds. Or maybe not. Interesting, nevetheless, where Bob Bowman thinks the priority should be when fine tuning to sqeeze out those extra hundredths of a second.

I guess the bottom line is that all aspects (vessel shaping, engine building, starts and turns, mental approach) are all equally important in the sense that they all need to work together as a team to attain the perfect swimmer. In certain situations one will take priority over another but in the grander scheme of things they are all of equal importance. Just try leaving one out and see how far that gets you.

Syd

mj_mcgrath
October 30th, 2007, 11:33 AM
A New York Times article on increasing running economy also talks about swimmers. See:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/fashion/11Best.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=6343f3cdc7cd1cc4&ex=1349755200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Apparently, an Olympic Gold Medal winner tested very low for V02 max for an elite athlete but was a very efficient swimmer. How to become very efficient? Hours and hours of training, according to the authors' anecdotal advice.
From the NY Times:
With swimmers, Dr. Coyle said, speed depends a great deal on technique, which can improve to a certain extent with coaching and training. Swimmers must overcome the drag of the water, and anything that interrupts the fluid dynamics of their motion will cause them to decelerate.
But physiological economy can also have a huge effect in swimming. Dr. Daniels studied a woman who won an Olympic gold medal even though her VO2 max was only average for a recreational athlete and was very low for an elite athlete. Her gift? She wasted little energy, and that skill more than compensated.
No one has rigorously studied swimmers and documented that training improves economy. But exercise physiologists note that competitive swimmers practice for hours a day, even though their races last just minutes.
“Some physiologists say, ‘Look you don’t need to do that,’” Dr. Coyle said. “But the athletes think it is beneficial.” The reason, he suspects, is that all that training is needed to improve economy.

quicksilver
October 30th, 2007, 12:47 PM
Good post. Interesting article.


I train with an MD who states that we as swimmers can achieve a very high heart rate because most of the work is done while our bodies are horizontal....as opposed to runners who's hearts are working to pump both up and down.

As a swimmer who now also runs...I can say firsthand that being in top swimming shape is not an indicator to being fit for running. Until a swimmer finds their legs...a test on Vo2max by way of a treadmill could give a mixed result.

On the other hand...take a very fit runner with poor swimming skills....throw them in a lane....and watch them struggle with maximal effort to keep up with the slippery swimmer who's got great stroke mechanics. Economy of movement is everything.









A New York Times article on increasing running economy also talks about swimmers. See:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/fashion/11Best.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=6343f3cdc7cd1cc4&ex=1349755200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Apparently, an Olympic Gold Medal winner tested very low for V02 max for an elite athlete but was a very efficient swimmer. How to become very efficient? Hours and hours of training, according to the authors' anecdotal advice.
From the NY Times:
With swimmers, Dr. Coyle said, speed depends a great deal on technique, which can improve to a certain extent with coaching and training. Swimmers must overcome the drag of the water, and anything that interrupts the fluid dynamics of their motion will cause them to decelerate.
But physiological economy can also have a huge effect in swimming. Dr. Daniels studied a woman who won an Olympic gold medal even though her VO2 max was only average for a recreational athlete and was very low for an elite athlete. Her gift? She wasted little energy, and that skill more than compensated.
No one has rigorously studied swimmers and documented that training improves economy. But exercise physiologists note that competitive swimmers practice for hours a day, even though their races last just minutes.
“Some physiologists say, ‘Look you don’t need to do that,’” Dr. Coyle said. “But the athletes think it is beneficial.” The reason, he suspects, is that all that training is needed to improve economy.

NotVeryFast
November 1st, 2007, 12:08 PM
Can we all agree that all training results in conditioning?
Conditioning is very complex and consists of a large number of different physical adaptations. The intensity of training will be a key factor in determining what adaptations take place. All training will result in some sort of adaptation, but that isn't to say that satisfactory overall conditioning can be achieved by any random training program.


i watched two guys doing a set of 5 x 200 on 2:30 both were holding sub 1:50's, both were +/- 6' 3", one was holding 10 spl, one was holding 16 spl.
which would you rather be?
I'm assuming that's SCY? 10 still seems like a very low stroke count, I have a video of Michael Phelps from the 2004 World SC Champs where he did 1:43.59, and even he takes 16 strokes on his 7th length.

Personally I find I have to trade off stroke length with efficient muscle usage to some extent. I can do one 25m length in 11 strokes, but there is no way I can keep that up at any sort of decent speed for a significant distance because my muscles tire as the lengths go on. It's more efficient for me to take more strokes, but do less work per stroke, typically in the region of 17-19 strokes per 25m length. It's like choosing your gear on a bicycle, you don't always choose the longest gear. Or in a gym, if you find the heaviest weight you can bench press for one rep, then halve the weight, you will be able to do far more than 2 reps after halving the weight. The total work you can achieve is maximized at a lower workload per rep, analagous to using a shorter stroke in swimming, or a shorter gear on a bicycle. Of course, you can go too far the other way, there is an optimum in the middle. If you bench pressed 1lb, you would only be able to work at a much lower rate than if you bench pressed 30lb, because you can't bench press 1lb 30x faster than 30lb. And spinning in too short a gear on a bicycle is no good either, neither is flailing your arms around in a swimming pool and getting nowhere with each stroke.

Perhaps what we should be looking to do is to maximize the distance travelled per stroke for a given energy input rather than maximize distance per stroke in absolute terms. Of course this is hard to measure, but we should aspire to measure what is important, not make important what we can measure.

The way I see it, people with clearly defective technique will achieve the biggest improvement by eliminating their obvious technique problems. But once you have your technique reasonably close to that of an elite swimmer, the difference will mainly be conditioning. I suspect one reason why a lot of coaches emphasise conditioning is not because they see technique as unimportant, but because their best swimmers are people who have natural feel for the water and naturally achieve extremely good technique.

I personally feel that I am mostly limited by conditioning. That isn't to say I believe my technique is perfect, but when I look at myself swimming in video recordings I see someone who appears primarily to be unable to sustain as high a workrate as faster swimmers. I even did a comparison of myself with Grant Hackett, both of us doing the first 200 of a 1500:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE7xoadEj90
I'm the one between the blue and white lane rope and the yellow lane rope. I'd prefer it if my technique looked a little more "pretty", but some aspects of it are limited by what my shoulders can do. The girl in the lane next to me looks to be mainly going faster by pushing her arms harder through the water and sustaining a vigorous kick.